How soon do you think the New York Times will do another story about Wake's academic results?
As noted in today's article, things have changed since the Sept. 2005 Sunday front-page Times article on Wake. Tougher math and reading EOG exams have lowered Wake's passing rate from 90.4 percent in 2005 to 70.8 percent this year.
That article, along with the ensuing coverage in other publications, helped boost Wake's national reputation. Wake school and community leaders would often argue that Wake is one of the best school systems in the nation.
"The Wake County Public School System is among the best in the nation, in large part because of many decades of great leadership by some courageous school board members and educators in the district, and great support from community and business people in the county," wrote former Gov. Jim Hunt.
Hunt penned those words in "A School District's Journey to Excellence: Lessons From Business and Education," the recent book written by former Superintendent Bill McNeal and former school board member Tom Oxholm.
So, can Wake still make that claim now? Folks in the district say the answer is yes.
"It doesn't take away any of the luster from Wake County," said Donna Hargens, chief academic officer, of the new test results.
School board member Patti Head agreed that Wake is still among the best school districts in the nation.
"People who come to Wake County will still get a good school," Head said.
School board member Lori Millberg said no parents have questioned her why the test scores have dropped. She said people understand that it's because the tests have changed.
Millberg and other school officials stand behind the 91 percent passing rate of a few years ago as having been a valid measure of academic performance in the district.
"It doesn't take away from the fact that we made great gains," Millberg said. "The results encouraged other school systems that they could do it too."