R-S Middle School’s original building opened in 1925 as Rutherfordton, Spindale, Ruth High School. The current eighth-grade building and gym were constructed in 1962 with the current cafeteria and library following three years later. R-S Central High School moved to a new campus in the fall of 1992. In the fall of 1993, R-S Middle opened on the old High School campus. The most recent construction on the property is the sixth-grade building erected in the mid 90s. Currently a new R-S Middle School is under construction and will open for the 2022-2023 school year. In the summer of 2022, R-S Middle moved into a new 105,180 square foot facility. The facility provides a safe, modern location for students and staff to call home.
R-S Middle School has 28 core teachers for the 2022-2023 school year. There are also ten exploratory teachers, five exceptional children teachers, 1.5 counselors, one technology facilitator, one media coordinator, one part time instructional coaches, two assistant principals, and a principal. There has been a considerable amount of turnover in the past five years. Thirty percent of the teachers at RS Middle have less than five years of experience.
R-S Middle School has a total enrollment of 614 students, which has been stable over the last two years. This stabilization follows a period of declining enrollment that existed from 2003-2015. The decline in student enrollment is a trend that started approximately 14 years ago when the school educated more than 1,000 students annually. Pinnacle Elementary School, Mount-Vernon Ruth Elementary, Spindale Elementary, and Rutherfordton Elementary are kindergarten through fifth-grade schools that feed into R-S Middle School.
For the 2021-2022 school year, around thirty-five percent (35%) of students come from low-income families. Approximately twenty-eight percent (28%) of students are of minority ethnicity. Most identify themselves as African-American (13%), though an increasing number identify as multi-racial (8%). Although seven percent (7%) of the student population identifies themselves as Hispanic, less than half a percent (0.5%) are non-English-speaking students and only a few that speak English as a second language. Approximately 17 percent (17%) of the student population are identified as exceptional children.
R-S Middle School uses a team approach to the middle school concept. Every student has on average a 60-minute math class each day. Every student on average also has a 60-minute language arts class daily. Students also receive instruction in science for 6 minutes and social studies for 60 minutes throughout the school year. Time occurs for 40 minutes in the schedule each day for Multi-Tiered System of Supports intervention. In addition to core areas, students receive instruction in two exploratory classes daily. These classes include Art, Business and Marketing/STEM, Physical Education & Health, Excel Drama, Band, General Music, and Academic Enrichment/Intervention. Band is a yearlong course while the other exploratory offerings rotate on a six weeks reporting period basis. R-S Middle School offers four courses for high school credit to advanced students. These courses include; Math I, Math II English I, and Environmental Earth Science.
Under the Ready accountability model for North Carolina, R-S Middle School met expected growth and was assigned a grade of “C” for the 2013-2014 school year. For the 2014-2015 school year R-S Middle School did not meet expected growth and the grade assigned dropped to a “D”. For the 2015-2016 school year, R-S Middle once again met growth and improved its school grade to “C”. 2016-2017, 2017-2018, 2018-2019 school years saw R-S Middle’s proficiency maintain a “C” grade. Sixth, seventh and eighth grade students complete North Carolina End-of-Grade (EOG) assessments in reading and math. Eighth-grade students also complete an EOG in science. Data for the 2013-2014 through 2018-2019 school year may be found in a chart located in the supplemental material. R-S Middle School takes great pride in preparing students to be successful in high school and beyond. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic schools were closed in March of 2020. No testing occurred for the 2019-2020 school year. In Addition no state reporting of testing results occurred for the 2019-2020 or 2020-2021 school year. During the 2019-20 school year, R-S Middle initiated a Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) Model regiment to help teachers understand the individual levels of their students and more appropriately meet those needs. All students completed Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) testing in the fall, winter, and spring to track academic growth in reading and math as well as identify areas for strengthening performance. Beginning in the 2019-2020 school year, the data obtained from MAP was to be utilized to develop student groups for WIN, What I Need Now, Groups that focused on reading and math. Students were served in Tier 1 (Enrichment), Tier 1 (On Grade Level), Tier 2 (Below Grade Level), and Tier 3 (Significantly Below Grade Level). These groups were served twice weekly with instruction on alternate weeks for reading and math. In addition, all eighth-grade science and Math I students completed district benchmark testing on three occasions to monitor students’ progress. From school closure in March of 2020 until spring 2021, interventions for students were handled through remote and hybrid strategies. Due to extreme learning loss in math during school closure, beginning with 2021-2022 school year MTSS interventions will focus on improving math instruction for students. Every student will complete a unit pre-test to determine the tier of placement for MTSS/WIN. Students will be placed in small groups based on their pretest scores. Students will be served in Tier 1 Enrichment, Tier 2 Below Grade Level, and Tier 3 Significantly Below Grade Level in math. Students will also have social-emotional learning during this intervention time at least one day a week. Reading interventions will be layered into content instruction as needed through small group instruction.
R-S Middle School is a one-to-one school with each teacher and student having an Ipad for their academic use. Each classroom is equipped with an interactive whiteboard and an Apple TV. Several technology programs are used throughout the school. Freckle Education is used to support reading and math. PlayPosit, Assistments, Khan Academy, ReadWorks, CommonLit, Gimkit, Kahoot and Prodigy are other programs used throughout R-S Middle School to reach students. During the 2019-20 school year, R-S Middle initiated a Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) Model regiment to help teachers understand the individual levels of their students and more appropriately meet those needs. We will continue to utilize these resources throughout the 2021-2022 school year.
The effort R-S Middle School has placed on improving student performance and increasing rigor over the last several years is supported by the results of the AdvancEd Survey completed by parents in the spring of 2016. When asked, “All of my child’s teachers give work that challenges my child”, less than six percent (6%) disagreed. When responding to the question, “All of my child's teachers use a variety of teaching strategies and learning activities “, eighty seven percent (87%) responded favorably.
Beliefs and Mission
Our vision is that all students that leave R-S Middle School will be prepared for success in high school and beyond. In order to recognize our vision, the mission is that R-S Middle School, together with parents and community, will enable students to excel in a 21st-century society. Students are encouraged to be focused on starting fresh each day as they follow on their “Quest for Excellence” and find their individual success. Our faculty and staff believe every student who comes to R-S Middle has the ability to be successful. All stakeholders must work together to achieve our goal and provide the best educational experience possible to each student. The faculty and staff of R-S Middle School believe we live in a constantly changing society where students must learn skills to prepare them for success.
Our vision, mission, and beliefs have been developed through SIT after careful examination of state, district and school data. These were then presented to all faculty and staff for feedback. Staff, grade level, and team meetings are opportunities where internal stakeholders have this information communicated to them for a constant consistent focus. External stakeholders have this information disseminated to them through school documents and the R-S Middle School website. The school vision and mission statements are evaluated annually when new School Improvement Team members are elected. Decisions are made based upon the vision, mission and beliefs of our school.
Desired Outcomes and Results
The School Improvement Team at R-S Middle School has worked diligently with all stakeholders to develop a shared vision for student learning. Our team used our belief and mission statements along with state educational trends and objectives. In addition, our team examined state testing results, discipline records, parent contact logs and anecdotal evidence to arrive at goals we believe will strengthen our school and benefit student learning. One important measure of success is the proficiency of students in the school. The state of North Carolina uses End-of-Grade (EOG) testing to determine a student’s achievement level in math and language arts for all middle grades (6-8). North Carolina also uses EOG’s to assess eighth-grade science. In 2014 North Carolina lawmakers passed legislation assigning a school performance letter grade to public schools. The grading criteria has been based upon a 15-point scale since the inception of the letter grade format. Any school receiving a letter grade below ‘C' is considered “low performing”. Recently, state lawmakers made the current 15-point scale permanent beginning with the 2019-2020 school year. As a result, the school improvement team of R-S Middle has chosen to focus a school improvement goal on each academic area included in the school performance grade calculation.
Math Achievement: Our Goal - R-S Middle School will raise overall student proficiency on the North Carolina End-of-Grade Test of Mathematics to 55% or higher by June 30, 2022, and to 65% or higher by June 30, 2023.
During the 2013-2014 school year, RS Middle School posted average percent passing scores on the EOG of 41.8% in sixth grade, 37.4% in seventh grade, and 27.3% in eighth grade. For the 2014-2015 school year, sixth grade rose to 46.6%, which was an increase of 4.8%. Seventh grade rose to 41.9%, which was an increase of 4.5%. Eighth grade fell to 23.7%, a decrease of 3.6% year over year. From the 2013-2014 school year to the 2014-2015 school year, math performance rose from 35.5% to 37.4%. During the 2015-2016 school year math performance rose to 53.4% in sixth grade, an increase of 11.6% over the base year of 2013-2014. Performance rose to 49.3% in seventh grade, an increase of 11.9%. Math proficiency is eighth grade jumped to 46.2%. This represented an increase of 18.9% from the 2013-2014 data. During the 2016-2017 school year math EOG proficiency for the sixth grade was 50.5%, down slightly from the year before, but up 8.7% over the baseline year of 2013-2014. Seventh grade math EOG proficiency for the 2016-2017 school year was 48.4%, down 0.9% from the previous year, but up 11% points from 2013-2014. The eighth-grade performance continued to climb, up to 48.6%. This represented an increase of 2.6% from the previous year and 21.5% from the baseline year of 2013-2014. During the 2018-2019 school year math EOG proficiency for the sixth grade was 65.5%, up from the year before by 8.4% and an increase of 23.7% over the baseline year of 2013-2014. Seventh grade math EOG proficiency for the 2018-2019 school year was 62.4%, up from the year before by 17.9% from the previous year, and an increase of 25% points from 2013-2014. Eighth-grade performance was 42.8%. This represented an increase of 15.7% from the previous year and an increase of 8.5% from the baseline year of 2013-2014. Significant with math data in eighth grade is the fact that the data from the baseline year includes all eighth-grade high school math students completing the eighth grade EOG for math. In the current data, these students are not required to complete the eighth-grade assessment. Our goal over the next two years is to move from 57.2% to 63% of our students proficient in the 2019-2020 testing cycle and 65% proficient in the 2020-2021 year.
Our Goal - R-S Middle School will raise student proficiency on the North Carolina End-of-Grade Test of Reading at grade eight to 60% or higher by June 30, 2022, and to 65% or higher by June 30, 2023.
During the 2013-2014 school year, RS Middle School posted average percent passing scores on the EOG of 56.4% in sixth grade, 56.8% in seventh grade, and 49.2% in eighth grade. For the 2014-2015 school year, the sixth grade fell to 51.0%, which was a decrease of 5.4%. Seventh grade fell to 54.8%, which was a decrease of 5.4%. Eighth grade rose to 51.6%, an increase of 2.4% year over year. From the 2013-2014 school year to the 2014-15 school year, reading performance fell from 54.1% to 52.6%, showing a decrease. During the 2015-2016 school year reading performance rose to 62.6% in sixth grade, an increase of 6.2% over the base year of 2013-2014. Performance finished at 55.2% in seventh grade, an increase from the previous year, but 1.6% below the baseline year of 2013-2014. Reading proficiency in eighth grade finished at 49.5%, which was .3% higher than 2013-2014. During the 2016-2017 school year reading EOG proficiency for the sixth grade was 61.2%, down slightly from the year before, but up 4.8% over the baseline year of 2013-2014. Seventh grade reading EOG proficiency for the 2016-2017 school year was 58.2%, up 3% from the previous year, and up 1.6% points from 2013-2014. Eighth-grade performance was 48.2%. This represented a drop of 1.3% from the previous year and 1% from the baseline year of 2013-2014. During the 2018-2019 school year reading EOG proficiency for the sixth grade was 63.8%, up slightly from the year by 1.1%, but up 7.4% over the baseline year of 2013-2014. Seventh grade reading EOG proficiency for the 2019-2020 school year was 63.4%, up 1.9% from the previous year, and up 6.6% points from 2013-2014. Eighth-grade performance was 54.5%. This represented a drop of 1.6% from the previous year but a gain of 5.3% from the baseline year of 2013-2014. Our goal over the next two years is to move from 60.7% to 63% of our students proficient in the 2019-2020 testing cycle and 65% proficient in the 2020-2021 year.
Our Goal - R-S Middle School will raise student proficiency on the North Carolina End-of-Grade Test of Science at grade eight to 80% or higher by June 30, 2022, and to 83% or higher by June 30, 2023.
During the 2013-2014 school year, RS Middle School posted an average percent passing score on the EOG of 70.4% in eighth-grade science. For the 2014-2015 school year, the percent passing fell to 69.3%, which was a decrease of 1.1%. During the 2015-2016 school year, EOG proficiency rose to 72.1%. For 2016-2017, school year science performance continued to climb to 76.2%. For 2019-2020, school year science performance experienced a decline to 77%, down 3.5% from the 2018-2019 year but an increase of 6.6% points from the baseline data. Our goal over the next two years is to move from 77% to 80% of our students proficient in the 2019-20 testing cycle and 83% proficient in the 2020-2021 year.
The School Improvement Team believes student learning is the fundamental purpose of our school. The team has set aggressive but achievable goals for the next two years. These goals will be attained through teaching a rigorous curriculum, MAP testing to monitor student progress throughout the year, collaboration among teachers and grade levels, and the expertise of the R-S Middle faculty using various programs and resources to deliver a quality education. Students have individual learning needs that require differentiation. R-S Middle provides an individualized learning experience in a variety of ways including the use of Freckle, tutoring sessions and small group or inclusion learning opportunities. The continued implementation of WIN Time for the 2021-2022 school year will also directly meet skill-based deficits that students have in reading and/or math. R-S Middle will partner with parents and the community to provide positive outcomes for all students.
Analysis of Organizational and Instructional Effectiveness
R-S Middle ensures that all students have equitable access to safe, modern, educational facilities and appropriate learning resources. R-S Middle School ensures that all students are safe in a variety of ways. All teachers are trained yearly on safety measures for security and health. Our school has a full-time School Resource Officer (SRO) who is on campus every day to protect and serve the students. The SRO makes daily rounds checking classrooms, hallways, cameras, parking lots, restrooms, and other facilities. R-S Middle has a school crisis team that works with the principal and SRO to create a school crisis plan that is updated yearly. This plan takes into account a variety of situations and offers protocols for each to provide maximum safety should a time of crisis arise. Fire drills are conducted monthly in accordance with state law. The school nurse is split between R-S Middle and R-S Central. She is on campus two and a half days per week to offer medical assistance to any student in need. In addition to the school nurse, two staff members are certified in CPR and first aid. Our school and district lead the way in North Carolina with our expansive use of technology. Every student has a personal iPad available for school use that they may also take home. In our recent AdvancED survey, over ninety-five percent (95%) of parents agreed when asked, “My child has up-to-date computers and technology to learn.” The one-to-one initiative is supported by a fast, highly dependable WIFI system that can enable every student to be online at the same time. R-S Middle School has an aged facility, with the main building being 96 years old. Students often have to change buildings when moving between classes or climb sets of stairs to move to the cafeteria or gym. However, since the school is a former high school, it does have an auditorium, football stadium, and full athletic fields that many middle schools do not have. R-S Middle School is currently in a building construction process. The current timeline will see a new facility opening for the 2022-2023 school year. The school will be located on property adjacent to R-S Central High School.
There are many areas that RS Middle is striving to improve. The school wants to continue to refine and improve all teachers’ skills so students receive the best education possible. As teachers learn new and innovative practices we want those ideas to spread and be shared throughout the school. R-S Middle has shown steady improvement in student outcomes as measured by EOG testing over the past seven years. However, the rate of improvement could be more rapid. Additionally, the learning loss during the COVID-19 pandemic that began with school closure on March 14, 2020, continued to decline the level of proficiency for our students. Students learn best when the school works in partnership with families to focus on positive outcomes. The more communication that R-S Middle faculty and staff have with parents and community stakeholders about learning the more successful students will be.