posted Jan 21, 2015, 11:08 AM by SHANE CASSIDA

Curriculum Director Shane Cassida informed the Board at the January 5, 2015 meeting that the members of the Credit by Demonstrated Mastery District Team consisting of himself, Student Services Director Pete Peterson, MHHS Principal Kevin Huskins, Cane River Principal Alton Robinson, East Yancey Principal Angie Anglin, and Career and Technical Education Director Cynthia Deyton had developed and were requesting Board approval on the YCS Credit by Demonstrated Mastery (CDM) Plan.  Mr. Cassida continued that this plan would allow students to earn credit in a particular course without require “class seat time”.  Mr. Cassida shared in a PowerPoint presentation information detailing that for the 2014-15 school year, two courses – Microsoft Office (CTE) and Civics/Economics are offered for CDM.  Mr. Cassida added that the district team would meet in the summer of 2015 to determine the success of implementation and the possibility of adding additional courses and access to middle school students for CDM.  Mr. Cassida then detailed the requirements for a student to earn CDM and there was discussion regarding this opportunity for students.  The District Team will report back to the Board the progress and implementation of this plan.  The following link provides the detaild Credit by Demonstrated Mastery Plan for Yancey County Schools.

Bus Drivers Training Class

posted Jan 14, 2015, 10:54 AM by Kay Ball

Yancey County Schools will be hosting a School Bus Drivers Training Class on February 9th, 10th and 11th.  The class will be at Yancey Mayland Campus Room 122. Time: 8:30-3:00.

For more information call Yancey County School Bus Garage at 828-682-2167

Data Shows Yancey County Schools Making the Grade

posted Jan 7, 2015, 2:34 PM by Kay Ball

At the January 5th Yancey County Schools Board Meeting, Shane Cassida, Curriculum/Instruction Director, and Pete Peterson, Testing/Accountability Director, presented the preliminary results of the NC General Assembly’s School Performance Grades for the 2013-14 school year. The Department of Public Instruction has delayed the release of the official grades until February 5th, 2015 due to changes in the calculation formulas presented in the original legislation, the Excellent School Act of 2012 (GS 115C-83). 

Cassida and Peterson explained that the nine public schools of YCS, six elementary, two middle, and one high school, of the district were graded on a variety of performance criteria, the majority of which involved assessment data from the End of Grade (EOG) and End of Course (EOC) Accountability Program. The EOGs and EOCs went through a “re-norming” process before the 2012-13 school year that significantly increased the level of difficulty in the content being assessed and a higher proficiency standard that students have to meet in order to “pass” the assessment. As expected, all districts throughout the state, including YCS, saw declines across the board in 2012-13; however in 2013-14, as predicted the individual schools and Yancey County Schools as a whole saw increases in proficiency (passing the test) and a dramatic increase in growth (improvement in performance).

These increases from the school system have coincided at a time when the county is facing very difficult challenges as a community. The Public School Forum of North Carolina recently released the “Roadmap of Need – 2014”, an in-depth assessment of 20 different indicators (economic, health, education, etc.) that affect success for youth. According to this data, Yancey County youth face severe economic hardship as the county ranks 61st in childhood poverty, 65th in median household income, 77th in adult unemployment, and 95th in childhood food insecurity among North Carolina’s 100 counties. Yancey ranked 84th in terms of overall health and wellness factors for the community at-large as well. On top of these challenges, YCS faculty and students are asked to produce 21st Century work in a mid-20th Century infrastructure, as the average age of the school buildings in YCS are 62 years old, what is believed to be the oldest average age of any district in the state. The rapid deterioration of these buildings has forced the system to make difficult financial choices in the midst of overall economic hardships at the local, state, and national levels while still trying to maintain positive economic outcomes. Even the geographical layout of the county presents an obstacle as the YCS Transportation department runs buses on more miles of road than most other district in North Carolina. Needless to say, Yancey County Schools faces a unique set of barriers each day the school doors open.

The General Assembly’s School Performance Grade is assigned based 80% on the school’s proficiency on all EOGs/EOCs and 20% on the school’s growth in performance on those EOGs/EOCs. The High School formula also takes into account the performance of students on the ACT College Entrance Exam and students’ ability to take and pass upper level mathematics courses. Cassida and Peterson further explained that the legislation calls for each elementary and middle school to receive a letter grade for Reading and Math individually in addition to the overall school letter grade. For the 2013-14 year only, the General Assembly’s School Performance Grade will be on a 15-point grading scale. In succeeding years, the legislation calls for a return to a traditional 10-point grading scale. The projected grade for each school and the district for the 2013-14 school year are as follows:

Mountain Heritage HS B
Cane River MS C
East Yancey MS B
Bald Creek ES B
Bee Log ES B
Burnsville ES C
Clearmont ES D
Micaville ES C
South Toe ES B

“We are certainly concerned, as are all school systems in North Carolina, going into the process that the grading system from the General Assembly will not accurately portray the quality education students receive each day in Yancey County. Given the challenges a rural school system faces in trying to meet the demands of a 21st Century education system, we are pleased with our relative ranking in the state. However, we are never satisfied with our work, as we see areas that need improvement and have already started to address those needs,” said Dr. Tony Tipton, Superintendent of Yancey County Schools. “The General Assembly’s grading system is what it is, and it is a factor that is out of our control. Instead, we wish to focus in Yancey County on the parts of our work that are within our control, namely improving our instruction each and every day for each student,” Tipton continued.

How Yancey County Schools Compare to the 100 other County School Systems

Yancey County Schools’ overall student achievement in all tested subjects (End of Grade tests, 3rd-8th grades & End of Course tests, 9th-12th grades) indicate that our school system is one of the most successful school districts in North Carolina. There are 115 public school systems in the state of North Carolina made up of 100 County School districts and 15 City School districts. There are also over 125 individual charter schools in the state’s public education system. To simplify and to draw a fair comparison using this large amount of information, the data in the following section only includes the 100 county school districts. While there are many areas where our students have excelled, the data also points to specific areas that are being monitored for improvement.

Of the 100 county school districts across North Carolina, Yancey County ranks 9th in overall student achievement. In other words, Yancey County students scored better in North Carolina’s testing program than 91 other counties. The data shows that Yancey county students did very well in the areas of Math and Science which are key subjects for developing “globally competitive” students. Yancey County Schools Graduation rate is 92.1 which is 7th highest in the state.

Yancey County students performed very well on the End of Grade tests at the elementary and middle school level when compared with the other 100 county school districts. At the elementary school level, our 4th grade and 5th grade reading scores are in the top 12 of the 100 counties. Our 5th grade Science scores are 8th best in the state.
Yancey County students really excel at the middle school level in comparison with the rest of the state. For 6th grade, 7thgrade and 8th grade Math, we rank 4th, 3rd, and 5th respectively. In 6th grade reading, our students scored 5th highest in the state.

Mountain Heritage High School’s End of Course test results are also impressive. When compared to other county school districts across North Carolina, Mountain Heritage’s combined EOC results rank them 8th overall. For Biology, Mountain Heritage has the second highest test scores in the state. MHHS also ranks in the top 25 for student achievement in English II.

There are approximately 2,023 individual schools, including charter schools that participate in North Carolina’s End of Grade (grades 3-8) and End of Course (grades 9-12) testing program. When we dig deeper into the data, we can see many areas where Yancey County’s public schools are shining examples of excellence. When we look at individual schools EOG scores by grade level, Yancey County has individual schools that are in the top 150 in the state at almost every grade level 3rdthrough 8th grades.

The charts below provide a more detailed look at how Yancey County compares with the other 100 County School Districts.

Subject Areas 100 County School Districts
All Subjects 9th
Reading Overall 13th
Math Overall 9th
Science Overall 5th
Graduation Rate 7th
Grade Level EOG Scores 100 County School Districts
3rd Grade All Scores 50th
4th Grade All Scores 10th
5th Grade All Scores 18th
6th Grade All Scores 3rd
7th Grade All Scores 6th
8th Grade All Scores 8th
Reading Scores 100 County School Districts
3rd Reading 46th
4th Reading 11th
5th Reading 12th
6th Reading 5th
7th Reading 11th
8th Reading 17th
English II 24th
Math Scores 100 County School Districts
3rd Math 54th
4th Math 14th
5th Math 44th
6th Math 4th
7th Math 3rd
8th Math 5th
Science Scores 100 County School Districts
5th 8th
8th 16th
Biology 2nd

Other Indicators of YCS Excellence

“We understand that there is much more to a quality education than just test results. A high-performing, 21st Century school provides a well-balanced program that produces globally competitive students, which is not always shown in numbers alone,” Peterson explained. He went on to explain that the community-school model that has always been at the heart of education in Yancey County Schools has proven effective beyond the sheer numbers. In light of that, Cassida explained that each school asked parents on “Parent – Teacher Day” in October to participate in a survey to “grade” their child’s overall school experience. The results of those surveys were as follows:

Overall Instruction (out of4.0 scale) Overall School (out of 4.0 scale)
Mountain Heritage HS B(3.4) A(3.5)
Cane River MS A(3.5) A(3.6)
East Yancey MS A(3.5) A(3.7)
Bald Creek ES A(3.9) A(3.6)
Bee Log ES A(4.0) A(3.9)
Burnsville ES A(3.6) A(3.6)
Clearmont ES A(3.5) B(3.4)
Micaville ES A(3.7) A(3.8)
South Toe ES A(3.8) A(3.7)
Yancey County Schools A(3.7) A(3.6)

South Toe, Micaville and Bald Creek Elementary Schools all received recognition as a Title I Reward School, with Bald Creek receiving a nomination as a “National Title I School of Distinction” for 2014-15. East Yancey Middle school is one of only three schools in North Carolina to be designated as a “National School to Watch” for 10 consecutive years. All YCS elementary and middle schools received recognition in the Positive Behavior Intervention and Support Initiative (PBIS). South Toe is one of only two schools in the state that has maintained Exemplar status for the past seven years. East Yancey has held Exemplar status for the past six years.

As a final sign of the overall health of the district, YCS just completed a once every five year Federal Programs Monitoring Visit and received “No Findings” – the only system to receive such a distinction in 2014. This includes an overall monitor of how the system addresses the needs of our most at risk populations. The report concluded that YCS is going above and beyond to meet the needs of all students.

“The data and information collected over the past few months, from assessment data to parent survey data, only prove what we believed going into this process…the taxpayers of Yancey County can be assured that the investment they are making is paying off with proven results. We have nine quality schools that are meeting the needs of students, and we will only work to improve each day,” Dr. Tipton concludes.

Holiday Card Winner and Runner-Ups

posted Dec 4, 2014, 11:33 AM by Kay Ball   [ updated Dec 4, 2014, 12:04 PM ]

Middle school art students participated in a holiday card contest. East Yancey Middle School student Dawson L.'s drawing of an elaborate snowflake was selected as the winner and will be printed on the holiday cards and mailed to school districts across North Carolina. 

(All cards selected as finalists are scrolling across YCS homepage.)

Holiday Card Winner Dawson L. with Ms. Anglin East Yancey Middle School Principal and East Yancey Middle School Runners-Up

Holiday Card Runner-Ups with Art Teacher Keli Miller ; Superintendent Tipton and YCS School Board Members 

Three Yancey County Schools are North Carolina Title I ‘Reward Schools

posted Nov 6, 2014, 5:19 AM by Kay Ball   [ updated Nov 6, 2014, 6:02 AM ]

Three Yancey County Schools are North Carolina Title I ‘Reward Schools




Three Yancey County Schools are among only 78 other schools from around the state that have been recognized as Title I Reward Schools for High Performance for 2014-15, based on results from 2012-13 and 2013-14 school years according to the NC Department of Public Instruction.


These three schools are South Toe Elementary, Micaville Elementary, and Bald Creek Elementary. By Title I standards, a “High Performance” school has the highest absolute performance over a number of years for all subgroups, including the “all students” group, on statewide assessments.


Based on these standards, Bald Creek Elementary School has qualified to apply to represent North Carolina in the National Title I Distinguished Schools Program. Cane River and East Yancey Middle Schools have both been honored as National Title I Reward School nominees in the past.  The announcement of North Carolina’s national representatives for 2014 will be made sometime after the first of the year.


According to State Superintendent June Atkinson in a press release, “It is no small accomplishment when high-poverty schools are recognized for strong student achievement. By maintaining high expectations and engaging in hard work, these Title I schools collectively demonstrate the belief that all children can learn."






Mountain Scaritage Friday Night Football

posted Oct 31, 2014, 7:28 AM by Kay Ball

Mountain Scaritage Friday Night Football

Don’t miss out. The Mountain Heritage Varsity Cougars will take on the Avery Vikings at 6:30pm on October 31st at E.L.Briggs Stadium. In the spirit of the season, Mountain Heritage High School, along with local businesses and community groups, will be hosting the first annual Mountain Scaritage Trick-or-Treating and Fall Festival from 6:30pm through half-time of the football game. Children 12 and under in costume will be admitted free into the stadium for the football game and festival with a paying adult.

Festival will be free to participants and will include Trick or Treating, creepy (or not so creepy) face & body painting, train rides on the Haunted Scaritage barrel train (6:30-National Anthem), lots of carnival games, creepy corn hole, spooky tales around the campfire, freaky photo booth, haunted trails, lots of prizes to win, and much, much more. You might even get locked up in the prison of potions….but, don’t worry, Sampson will be sure to bail you out.

At half-time, you will have an opportunity to rattle your bones in our hair raising dance-off and enter the Scaritage Costume Contest. So, come join in the fun as we celebrate Fall and watch our Cougars Vanquish those Vikings.

Mountain Heritage banner sponsors are invited to host an activity or booth. If you are interested in sponsoring a student group booth or hosting an activity, contact Cindy King for details.

Cane River Middle School Principal Alton Robinson as the Yancey County Schools 2014 Principal of the Year.

posted Oct 24, 2014, 6:51 AM by Kay Ball

Displaying 10-21-14 POY Alton Robinson.jpg

At its regular monthly meeting on October 6, 2014, the Yancey County Board of Education recognized Cane River Middle School Principal Alton Robinson as the Yancey County Schools 2014 Principal of the Year.

In announcing Mr. Robinson as POY, School Board Chair Mike Orr stated, “Everyone in this room knows Mr. Robinson’s work ethic, his heart, and his steadfast persistence to make whatever school he is a part of a better place. We thank Mr. Robinson for his commitment to Yancey County Schools and for being our Principal of the Year.”

In being recognized, Mr. Robinson asked his Cane River Middle School staff in attendance to join him at the front of the room to be recognized as well. Mr. Robinson stated, “This recognition is a reflection of the outstanding efforts of the faculty, staff, students, parents, and community of Cane River Middle School.” Mr. Robinson added, “It is a blessing to be principal of Cane River Middle School.”

Mr. Robinson holds a Masters of Arts Degree in Teaching from East Tennessee State University and a Masters of Arts Degree in Administration from Western Carolina University.

During his time with Yancey County Schools, Mr. Robinson was a Science/PE Teacher at Cane River for 1 year, a Science Teacher at Mountain Heritage for 11 years, Assistant Principal at Cane River for 2 years, Assistant Principal at Mountain Heritage for 1 year, Principal at Mountain Heritage for 7 years, and in his current role as Principal at Cane River Middle School for 7 years.

Mr. Robinson has been named MHHS Teacher of the Year twice, was recognized for High School Physical Science EOC Test Scores #1 in the State of North Carolina in 1994, and has been named Yancey County Principal of the Year three times.

While at Cane River, Mr. Robinson is proud to boast of the accomplishments of his students and staff with the following recognitions:

2008-09 & 2009-10 NC School of Distinction

2010-11 Honors School of Excellence

2011-12 Honors School of Distinction

2012-13 & 2013-14 High Performance School Recognition for

NC Department of Public Instruction

2010-11 Public Schools of NC Title I Distinguished Schools Award (Sustained Student Achievement) – Exceptional student performance for two or more consecutive years.

Mr. Robinson will represent Yancey County Schools at the regional level in Principal of the Year competition.

Yancey County Schools with a Top Ten in the State Award for the High School Graduation Rate

posted Oct 10, 2014, 10:51 AM by Kay Ball   [ updated Oct 10, 2014, 10:51 AM ]


On October 3rd State Superintendent Dr. June Atkinson presented Yancey County Schools with a Top Ten in the State Award for the high school graduation rate at a banquet in Raleigh. It marks the first time in Yancey County Schools’ history that the graduation rate has been recognized for such an accomplishment. The 2014 graduation rate at Mountain Heritage High School was at 92.1% which has steadily increased over the past few years.

4 Year Graduation Cohort Rates Percentages
2007-2008 75.1%
2008-2009 80.6%
2009-2010 77.2%
2010-2011 78.2%
2011-2012 82.3%
2012-2013 82.7%
2013-2014 92.1 %

Yancey County Schools Superintendent Dr. Tony Tipton stated, “Our schools from kindergarten through twelfth grade are identifying at-risk students and supporting them in as many ways as possible to enable them to graduate from high school. This award represents the systems dedication to students and highlights the efforts all Yancey County Schools employees make daily.” Mountain Heritage High School Principal Kevin Huskins and Assistant Principal Erik Buchanan were in attendance at the event.

Yancey Schools Receive $600,000 Grant

posted Oct 9, 2014, 11:34 AM by YCS Webpage

Yancey County Schools received word last week that it will receive approximately $600,000 from the U.S. Department of Education to support on-going efforts to improve student achievement, address dropout prevention, and improve college access.

The seven-year grant will be awarded in partnership with Appalachian State University to implement strategies that lead to graduation and ultimately increase the number of students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education.

Specifically, the funding will help support and expand GEAR UP, standing for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs. This new funding ensures the program will be in place in Yancey County Schools until the 2020-2021 school year. The grant is also potentially renewable.

“This federal funding will bring much-needed resources into the school system,” said Dr. Tony Tipton, Yancey County Schools superintendent. “The grant award will boost continuing efforts for students to reach for the goal of graduation while putting an extra focus on early intervention. It will also provide crucial resources to aid in a student’s decision to continue their education past high school. The more support we have to ensure students don’t fall through the cracks, the better our school system will be.”

The funding provides a variety of interventions to students and their families including college visits, summer programs, career exploration, mentoring, job shadowing, tutoring, college advising, and financial aid. In addition, professional development is offered to school and district staff to share best practices and to assist with the creation and strengthening of a college access culture in the schools and the community.

“We have excellent students in Yancey County,” Tipton continued. “We know they have the drive to continue their education after high school, but are also aware that sometimes, just a fraction of them actually attend and more importantly graduate. The program is a tremendous resource that is available to every student in the targeted grades. We feel that a potent GEAR UP program in our school district has demonstrated in the past and will continue to prove the importance and accessibility of a multitude of post-secondary options.”

In partnership with Appalachian State, the GEAR UP grant allows the University to engage the western North Carolina region to promote improved access and preparation for the university experience.

“We are very appreciative to have Appalachian State as a partner in our effort to ready students for college or career,” said Colby Martin, Director of Grants and Compliance for the school system. “To add them to what is already an impressive GEAR UP program led by community partnership liaison Eric Klein and student services coordinator Samantha Briggs, will help us market the schools as a checkpoint to each individual student’s broader lifetime goals.”

The GEAR UP program has yielded amazing results since its inception in 2000. 92% of students in middle schools and 90% in high schools where GEAR UP funding has been put in place plan to attend college. 95% of 9th grade students in GEAR UP high schools are currently registered for a college preparation course of study.

“We want to help students develop their college ready skills, critical thinking, problem solving and analytic skills,” Jennifer Wilson-Kearse, the executive director of Appalachian’s GEAR UP program, said. “We know that employees need a certain set of skills to be successful. Those skills are the same across a broad range of employment opportunities, but sometimes our students are coming out of their educational experience without those skills.”

“We have the capacity to touch so many lives,” she continued, “in a way that we know is going to ultimately increase the economic development in Western North Carolina because we will be increasing the (educational) capacity of the students in the region who are our future workforce.”

Eighty-five Percent of YCS Third Graders Meet Reading Proficiency Standards

posted Oct 9, 2014, 11:31 AM by YCS Webpage

Eighty-five percent (84.7 percent or 155 students) of Yancey County Schools third grade students met the reading proficiency standards under North Carolina’s Read to Achieve program according to the Improve K-3 Literacy Accountability Measures Comprehensive Plan for Reading Achievement report. In comparison, seventy-nine percent (79.2 percent or 91,919 students) of North Carolina public school third grade students met those proficiency standards. The State Board of Education members received the report at their meeting in Charlotte on Thursday.

These third graders demonstrated reading proficiency through one of the following options:
passing the Beginning-of-Grade 3 English Language Arts/Reading assessment;
passing the End-of-Grade 3 English Language Arts/Reading assessment;
passing the retest of the End-of-Grade 3 English Language Arts/Reading assessment;
passing the Read to Achieve Alternative Test;
passing an alternative assessment for reading; or
successfully completing the reading portfolio.
Another 12 percent (22 students) from the YCS third grade population were exempt from third grade retention for good cause (impacts English Language Learners and some students with learning disabilities). In total 97 percent (177 students) were promoted to the fourth grade, 10 percent higher than the state average.

The remaining three percent of third graders were either retained in the third grade or placed in a transitional class or accelerated class with a reading label and identified to receive additional help. Overall, across the state, 116,128 third grade students were tested.

State Superintendent June Atkinson said, “We are glad that third grade reading is receiving additional attention under Read to Achieve. As students move through elementary school, this additional focus on reading will help to keep them on track to succeed at the next grade level.”

State Board of Education Chairman Bill Cobey said Board members fully support programs that help ensure student academic success. “We know that third grade is a pivotal year for future academic success, and reading proficiency plays a critical role. We want to make sure that we support not only our early learners, but also our elementary school teachers so that they can work in concert to ensure students build a strong foundation in reading.”

The North Carolina Read to Achieve Program is a component of the Excellent Public Schools Act passed by the North Carolina General Assembly during its 2012 session. The goal of the program is to ensure that every third grade student is reading at or above grade level by the end of the school year. Students who are not reading at grade level by the end of third grade receive extra support, including reading camps, guaranteed uninterrupted blocks of reading time, and intensive reading interventions so that they will be more prepared to do fourth grade work.

Of the 18,373 students eligible to attend a reading camp held by local districts during the summer, 12,827 (69.8 percent) students attended. Of that number, 3,426 (26.7 percent) were reading proficient at the end of the camp. Yancey County School’s Summer Camp was able to take 20 of the 26 students required to attend to reading proficiency by the end of the six-week camp.

Students who are retained may be placed in a third grade accelerated class, in a third/fourth grade transition class with a retained reading label, or in a fourth-grade accelerated class with a retained reading label. If these students retake the reading test by Nov. 1, complete a reading portfolio, or pass a local alternative test and demonstrate proficiency, they are promoted to the fourth grade and the retained reading label is removed. These students continue to have the opportunity to show proficiency by local alternative or completed portfolio throughout the rest of the fourth-grade year to have the retained reading label removed.

To view the full report, please visit Questions may be directed to the NCDPI Communications division at 919.807.3450.

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