Types of Public Schools in North Carolina

Explanation of Types of Public Schools in North Carolina

Note: All of the school types below are public schools, in that they are funded primarily through public tax dollars.

  • Regular School: a public school that students are assigned to attend because they live in the school's attendance area or attendance zone. Such schools are sometimes called “zoned schools,” “neighborhood schools” or “ZIP code schools,” and are normally only open for enrollment to students from a predetermined set of neighborhoods or ZIP codes. Regular schools are by far the most common type of school in the Charlotte area.
  • Magnet School: a public school that provides unique or specialized curriculum. Magnet schools differ from regular public schools in that they offer specialized academic themes, such as math & science, the arts, foreign languages and so on. Magnet schools are usually open to students well outside of their immediate geographic location. Unlike charter schools, magnet schools are normally not completely independent, and receive their funding from the school system in the city or county in which they operate.
  • Alternative School: a school that serves students at any level, serves suspended or expelled students, serves students whose learning styles are better served in an alternative program, or a school that provides individualized programs outside of a standard classroom setting.
  • Charter School: a tuition-free, public school created on the basis of a license or “charter” made with the State Board of Education. Charter schools typically have greater freedom than traditional public schools in personnel policies, curriculum and teaching philosophy. In return, they must make a commitment to meet state standards of accountability. Charter schools are also normally open to students from counties and towns outside of where they are located. Enrollment decisions at charter schools are often lottery-based, with special consideration given to siblings of currently enrolled students.
Student Growth Index Explained

Student Growth Index Explained

The Student Growth Index of a school is meant to measure how well the school has been growing student learning over time (i.e., years). North Carolina's public schools receive web-based reporting through the Education Value-Added Assessment System (EVAAS). EVAAS is meant to offer an objective way to measure student progress and the value schools add to students' educational attainment. EVAAS is a statistical analysis of North Carolina state assessment data, and the system provides NC schools with growth data to consider, in addition to achievement data.

If a school has a Student Growth Index of between -2.0 and 2.0, the school is deemed to have "met growth", (i.e., met its average projected growth target). A school with a Student Growth Index of less than -2.0 is considered to have "not met growth". Finally, a school with an index of greater than 2.0 is deemed to have "exceeded growth".

Best School Districts: Overall Rankings

Best School Districts Around Charlotte, NC

Below is our ranking of the best public school systems in Charlotte and its North Carolina suburbs based on Carolina School Hub's independent school ratings.

The rankings below are based on multiple measures of various Charlotte-area public school districts developed by Carolina School Hub. Those measures include: end-of-grade test scores, end-of-course test scores, high school SAT scores and the Student Growth Index for schools in the various districts. Reading and math end-of-grade test score percentages were included below for the sake of providing our site visitors with a simple snapshot of two key district indicators. However, please keep in mind that other measures were used in creating these rankings - i.e., SAT scores, student growth data and end-of-course scores.

If you're interested in seeing how the area school districts compare strictly on improvements in student growth, CLICK HERE.

Please note that charter schools are not part of public county or city school districts, and normally draw students from multiple counties. Each charter school is independently run. In the rating below we've mixed the charter schools into a composite "system" for the sake of comparison of these schools with traditional school systems. However, one should keep in mind that each charter school is run independently and the educational outcomes can vary greatly from one charter school to the next.

Rank School System Location Grades 3-8: % at or Above Grade Level
Reading Math
1 Mooresville Graded School District Iredell County, NC 54% 59%
2 Union County Public Schools Union County, NC 57% 60%
3 Lincoln County Schools Lincoln County, NC 50% 52%
4 Charter Schools (no school system) Various Counties 55% 47%
5 Cabarrus County Schools Cabarrus County, NC 49% 47%
6 Iredell-Statesville Schools Iredell County, NC 48% 47%
7 Catawba County Schools Catawba County, NC 43% 42%
8 Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Mecklenburg County, NC 46% 46%
9 Newton Conover City Schools Catawba County, NC 40% 41%
10 Stanly County Schools Stanly County, NC 41% 40%
11 Hickory City Schools Catawba County, NC 44% 42%
12 Kannapolis City Schools Cabarrus County, NC 34% 36%
13 Gaston County Schools Gaston County, NC 39% 37%
14 Rowan-Salisbury Schools Rowan County, NC 34% 32%

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