Share of NCHSAA titles won by non-traditional schools continues to drop under current realignment formula

Share of NCHSAA titles won by non-traditional schools continues to drop under current realignment formula

The 2023-24 school year saw the lowest number of N.C. High School Athletic Association state championships won by non-traditional public schools.

The NCHSAA is mostly made up of regular public schools, but it also has 55 schools that are either charter schools or private parochial schools which don’t abide by the same style of attendance zones as the traditional public schools.

This school year, 18.2% of the state titles were won by non-traditional public schools. This number was 20.9% in 2022-23, 23.3% in 2021-22, and 25.0% in 2020-2021. The highest percentage coming from that 2020-21 school year is notable, as it was the final year of the previous realignment cycle. During the NCHSAA’s past realignment cycles, schools were sorted into classifications by their average daily membership (i.e. student attendance on any given day). The schools with the most students went into 4A, the smallest went into 1A, and so on.

During the process for the 2021-2025 realignment, the NCHSAA elected to use a realignment score to sort the teams into the four classifications. The new formula took into account three factors: the ADMs, a three-year average of State Up scores, and a three-year average of Individual Student Percentages, or ISP. The ISP data displays the percentage of students who receive some form of government assistance. The association removed the highest ISP data point for each school to account for some anomalies related to natural disasters in recent years, mostly hurricanes in the eastern part of the state.

Effectively, the realignment formula was implemented to boost extraordinarily successful and wealthy schools up a classification to make for more equal competition on the playing fields (or courts).

Here’s a breakdown of how many state championships that traditional public schools have won over the past five full years, as well as the numbers for the non-traditional public schools. We went back to the 2018-19 school year as that was the last full year of championships pre-pandemic. We did not get the numbers for 2019-2020, as half of those championships didn’t happen.

Keep in mind the following: The 2023-24 school year had 40.54% non-traditional public schools in 1A, 6.6% in 2A, 0.9% in 3A, and 1.94% in 4A.

One more note: The only state championships that we did not include for the 2018-19 and 2020-21 school years were the football championships, which had eight total state championship games due to the subclassification playoff set up. For the record, three private schools appeared across the 16 state championship games (Cardinal Gibbons and Charlotte Catholic twice) and only Charlotte Catholic won its games.

# of Championships Won

2018-2019 2020-2021 2021-2022 2022-2023 2023-2024
4A Public Championships 20 13 20 20 22
4A Non-Trad. Championships 2 4 3 3 2
3A Public Championships 19 14 21 22 20
3A Non-Trad. Championships 3 2 1 0 2
2A Public Championships 15 11 14 14 14
2A Non-Trad. Championships 1 2 3 3 3
1A Public Championships 4 5 9 8 12
1A Non-Trad. Championships 12 8 8 9 5
Combined Class Public Champs 3 5 2 4 4
Combined Class Non-Trad Champs 3 0 5 3 4

% of championships won by Non-Traditional Public Schools

2018-2019 2020-2021 2021-2022 2022-2023 2023-2024
4A Non-Trad. Champ % 9.09% 23.53% 13.04% 13.04% 8.33%
3A Non-Trad. Champ % 13.64% 12.5% 4.55% 0.0% 9.09%
2A Non-Trad. Champ % 6.25% 15.38% 17.65% 17.65% 17.65%
1A Non-Trad. Champ % 75.0% 61.54% 47.06% 52.94% 29.41%
Comb. Class Non-Trad. Champ % 50.0% 0.0% 71.43% 42.86% 50.0%

For the NCHSAA’s next realignment (2025-2029), the association is expanding to eight classifications from four. Additionally, the classifications will be determined by ADMs only once again after the realignment formula was unpopular with football coaches. It could be reasonable to expect the non-traditional public schools to go back up to winning 25% of the state championships now that only their enrollment size will matter.

See more on the upcoming ADM-only realignment below: