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Parents, We welcome feedback and questions on this site, but please be respectful. We encourage you to remember that others love their school as much as you love yours. Questions and comments that focus on academics and logistics are helpful to us and to other parents. Personal attacks and, of course, vulgarity have no place in this discussion and will be deleted. We encourage you to find out more about any school at this page. Better yet, visit schools. The benefit of visiting a school greatly outweighs any information you can glean from a single letter grade or third-party web site. Thanks in advance for your feedback – critical or not – and other helpful contributions to this forum.


UPDATE 10/16: All public information sessions will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. They are Open House style, so you may arrive when you like and stay as long as you like. See below for dates and locations. Please plan to attend the session closest to you.

UPDATE 10/03: We have set the dates and locations for information sessions regarding Draft 1. These Open House-style sessions will focus on providing information about the changes in their respective geographic areas. Please plan on attending the session nearest to you. All events will take place in the evening. We will announce specific times soon, but we are sharing the dates now for your planning convenience. 


  • 10/24: Salem Elementary School, 6116 Old Jenks Road, Apex
  • 10/29: Fuquay-Varina High School (future home of Willow Spring High School), 1704 Old Honeycutt Road, Fuquay-Varina
  • 10/30: Wakefield High School, 2200 Wakefield Pines Drive, Raleigh


On Oct. 1, staff members presented Draft 1 of a new Student Enrollment Proposal to the Board of Education.

The proposal includes proposed school assignment changes for both the 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years.

This is the beginning of a community conversation that is scheduled to conclude with the school board adopting a final plan on Dec. 3.

Find out if you are proposed to be affected.

You are encouraged to visit for more information about the proposal and to check for updates as the process moves forward.


Why is this being proposed?

To keep up with population growth and prevent the overcrowding of schools, we’re building two new schools: 

  • South Lakes Elementary, 1433 Old Honeycutt Road, Fuquay-Varina, opening in August 2020

  • Willow Spring High School, 1704 Old Honeycutt Road, Fuquay-Varina, opening in August 2021

The majority of proposed school assignment changes will be related to the opening of these two new schools in Fuquay-Varina.

Other components of the proposal are aimed at relieving overcrowded schools, better utilizing under-enrolled schools, and improving transportation efficiency. 


How can I ask questions and provide feedback?

The best way to provide feedback and ask questions about the proposal is to visit our online forum. This will ensure staff members, school board members and your fellow parents see your questions and feedback. Staff members will respond to questions in a timely fashion. Staff members and board members will also review and consider all feedback as they work toward a second draft of the proposal and, ultimately, the final approved plan. 


What is the process for arriving at a final plan?

We will respond to questions and review feedback online for the next several weeks. We also will host three Open House public information sessions where you can learn more about the proposal and ask questions of staff members. We will announce dates and locations soon.

Staff members will present Draft 2 to the school board for discussion on Nov. 5. A public hearing will be held on Nov. 19, providing the opportunity to speak before the full board. A final vote is expected on Dec. 3.

Parents, please take a moment to read this, and share feedback and questions below.


Wake County is one of the nation’s fastest growing areas. When families move to the Research Triangle, they often choose Wake County because of the high quality of our public schools. And, when shopping for those neighborhoods, they often look at school ratings from sites like GreatSchools, Niche and NC school letter grades.  


It may make you wonder - how can a building full of teachers, students, parents and staff - be distilled down to one score? 


It can’t.


Here’s the real issue -- all school rankings are based almost entirely on test scores. And as research has found, test scores often tell us much more about socioeconomic status of their students than about the quality of the schools.  Regardless of which school they attend, studies show that the average scores of students from low income families are almost always lower than the average scores of their more affluent peers, even if they attend schools with generally high scores. 


The opposite is also true: The average scores of students from higher income families will be higher than the average score of their less affluent peers, even when they attend schools that have lower overall scores.


This means that when you see a “letter grade” attached to the school, it’s almost entirely a reflection of the household income level of the children that attend that school. 


A school with a lower “letter grade” isn’t a bad school. That letter grade won’t tell you how your child will perform. Every school in WCPSS provides personalized learning for each individual child, to meet the unique needs,  skills and interests of every student. If your child requires additional help learning to read, your child’s teacher will develop a plan to provide support. If your child is an AIG student, your childs’ unique gifts and learning styles can be identified and nurtured at each of our WCPSS schools. 


Your child will have every opportunity to thrive at any WCPSS school they attend, regardless of the school’s “letter grade."


That is why we ask parents and families to consider the following:


  • Visit the school to which your student has been assigned and take a tour. Give yourself and your child the opportunity to see for yourselves what it’s like. Meet the teachers. Talk to the principal. This action often not only allays fears but also unveils many desirable traits that might not be readily apparent via word of mouth.

  • Our teachers, administrators, support personnel and others work together to ensure that every child is met at his or her level with engaging, rigorous and challenging instruction, regardless of which school they attend. All of our schools focus on the 4 Cs of collaboration, critical thinking, creativity and communication - the skills research shows prepares students best for college, career and productive citizenship.

  • Check out all the data that is available on schools - not just one score or letter grade. We’ve put together a fact sheet for each of our schools to make this easier for you: Bring this sheet with you on school visits and talk to the principal about what your child and family needs.


To learn more: 

News and Observer: NC public school letter grades reflect wealth of students' families


Washington Post: What to know before using school ratings tools from real estate companies,


NPR: Race, School Ratings And Real Estate: A 'Legal Gray Area'


11 Responses

Tara McMahon 4 months ago

Thank you for posting this information on how schools are graded in Wake county. However, for many of us in the Preserve at White Oak neighborhood, a lower graded school is not the issue. Our main issues are: being forced to transfer from a traditional to year round school, having a longer and more treacherous route to take our children to school, and being forced to leave our neighborhood base school instead of rezoning new construction communities that haven’t even moved into the community yet.

4 Votes
Sarah Penley 4 months ago

I would agree with Tara, but on the topic of scores, Salem is much lower performing than other schools in this area and one of the lowest in Wake County per the Wake County progress reports. Why is that?

0 Votes
Matt Dees admin 4 months ago

Sarah, don't want to oversimplify, but as we state in the above: "studies show that the average scores of students from low income families are almost always lower than the average scores of their more affluent peers." The fact is that the percentage of students at Salem Elementary who receive free and reduced lunch (26.7%) is about four or five times higher than that of White Oak (6.2%) or Highcroft Drive (4.6%). But this does not mean Salem is somehow a "worse" school. In fact, it exceeded both the state's and the district's academic proficiency growth rate last year. Academic growth is a very good indicator of quality instruction.

You can find this data, as well as other indicators of school climate, by viewing our school progress reports here:

To close, will reiterate one other passage from our post: "A school with a lower 'letter grade' isn’t a bad school. That letter grade won’t tell you how your child will perform. Every school in WCPSS provides personalized learning for each individual child, to meet the unique needs, skills and interests of every student. If your child requires additional help learning to read, your child’s teacher will develop a plan to provide support. If your child is an AIG student, your child's unique gifts and learning styles can be identified and nurtured at each of our WCPSS schools."

0 Votes
Matt Dees admin 4 months ago

Also, where are you getting it's one of the lowest performing in Wake County? Its performance composite is near the district average.

0 Votes
Tim Riley 4 months ago

Matt - I think this was mentioned in the other forum, but would like to reiterate it here. Ashley Woods is the neighborhood with the lowest median income of any neighborhood in the Highcroft district (according to census data), and you are choosing to remove it. Ignoring the fact that removing Ashley Woods will do nothing to alleviate overcrowding at Highcroft and in turn put us into a school in a higher growth zone with less stability, you are also moving in the complete opposite direction of your goal to diversify schools from a socioeconomic standpoint (discussed in the last several board work sessions).

1 Vote
Matt Dees admin 4 months ago

Hi Tim, that is good feedback for the board to consider. I will say that crowded schools and underutilized schools are the sole drivers of these proposals in Draft 1. The board does intend to have many community conversations in the coming year about how we might address socioeconomic disparities among our schools.

0 Votes
Tim Riley 4 months ago

This is where I get a little confused. If this is about removing kids from Highcroft, it's still unclear to me why the smallest neighborhood was targeted. Also while the Salems are currently slightly underutilized, it's very apparent that this won't be for long due to already under construction and approved developments within Salem's zone. For the very tiny impact that Ashley Woods has to Highcroft and Mills Park's enrollment numbers, the benefit does not outweigh the disadvantages. The disadvantages include another calendar change, a school that is less proximate than four other elementary schools (none of which are capped except for Highcroft, which is not likely to be uncapped after this proposal), taking our year-round families out of Turner Creek (not overcrowded and walking distance to Ashley Woods) and moving them to a school further away, taking away stability by moving us from a school in a lower growth area to a very high growth area, and taking the lowest median-income neighborhood out of Highcroft. I know you don't like to hear "why not other neighorhoods" comments, but from a high level view, choosing Ashley Woods (a 20 year old neighborhood who has been at Highcroft and MP since opening) makes very little sense if the goal is to reduce enrollments.

2 Votes
Matt Dees admin 4 months ago

A reminder that tonight's meeting will focus on proposed assignment changes to Salem Elementary and Salem Middle. The other proposed changes will be discussed at the Open Houses next week.

0 Votes
Tim Manhardt 4 months ago

The tone of this message feels too political. Please focus on the successful outcomes of student education and social preparation not on test scores. Rise about standardized tests. Focus on pursuit of additional education, placement and success in the workplace, reduction in crime, et al..

0 Votes
Chris Teodorski 4 months ago

I'm not sure exactly what site people are using to assess these schools that are based solely upon test scores -- but Great Schools uses more than just test scores and still these two schools score poorly.

0 Votes
Veronica Goodwin 4 months ago

Since it was hard to ignore the fact that you copy and pasted the link to this article in response to numerous parents on this forum who have voiced serious concerns about being redistricted and concerns about the school I took your advice and reviewed the progress report for Smith. One of my biggest concerns after reviewing it is Smith scored a 62.5% for "The school environment is safe". This is well below WCPSS and NC average of nearly 89%. When schools in the county do not perform up to county and state averages, what does the county do to support the schools to help improve these scores?

2 Votes