R-S Central High School is a beautiful school in the rural foothills of western North Carolina. It is one of three traditional public high schools in Rutherford County. The school serves nearly 850 students with an average class size just under 20 students. Rutherfordton, Spindale, Chimney Rock, and Lake Lure are just a few of the townships within R-S Central’s footprint. Numerous studies and publications have been produced on the economic impact that the recent recession has had on our area. The Post and Courier found Rutherford County to be the 13th hardest hit county in the country. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, in February 2010, Rutherford County had an unemployment rate that soared to 19%. While things seem to be improving, our area has still not fully recovered. In spite of any financial constraints, R-S Central is firmly committed to the progress of our students. We are extremely proud of our academic programs, extracurricular opportunities, and facilities. We offer a number of Advanced Placement and Honors level courses, as well as early college opportunities supported through our partnerships with NCVPS and Isothermal Community College. As of the start of 2017, the school had 60 classroom teachers. Of those teachers, 100% are Highly Qualified, approximately a quarter of the faculty have advanced degrees, and 9 are National Board certified. Nearly 50% of the teaching staff have more than 10 years of teaching experience. All students have access to 21st century learning tools, including Promethean boards in every classroom. The school is also a one-to-one laptop school, providing each student with the opportunity to use a MacBook for academic purposes both at school and at home. Our School Improvement Plan has been developed to ensure that all R-S Central High School students are challenged and prepared for successful futures. Development of the plan is based on data collection from a number of sources, including student performance metrics and survey results.
Performance results on state End-of-Course (EOC) tests, over the last two years, show that proficiency rates for R-S Central students are on the rise. The table below illustrates EOC performance for the last two school years. While our proficiency levels are on the rise, EVAAS (Education Value Added Assessment System) data indicators for 2016-2017 show improvement in student growth over the previous year, yet it is still in the negative range. The overall growth composite for 2016-2017 was -3.35, compared to -4.47 in 2015-2016. Strategies for improvement need to continue the pattern of growth seen in 2017 while also increasing the number of students that are considered proficient in these core subjects.
Biology 2015-2016 52.3% 2016-2017 54.2%
English II 2015-2016 42.1% 2016-2017 52.3%
Math I 2015-2016 39.8% 2016-2017 47.3%
The next data set shows the percentage of students meeting the minimum UNC system admission requirement score of 17 or higher on the ACT. This percentage is the one used by the state of North Carolina in the calculation of school accountability grades. R-S Central would like to see improvement of the composite score for all students. The data indicates a need to provide additional support in reading and test taking strategies.
2014-2015 50.0% 2015-2106 52.6% 2016-2017 55.8%
Career-Technical Education completers are required to take the ACT WorkKeys test during their senior year. The percentages in the table below illustrate the percentage of those students who achieved at least a Silver level performance on the test. An emphasis on the test’s importance as well as a targeted effort by staff has contributed to dramatic gains over the last few years.
R-S Central High School would like to continue to challenge students to take courses to develop their skills in mathematics. For the last 3 years, 95% of graduating students had taken Math III or higher. Challenging students in mathematics will further our goals in preparing students to improve their scores on tests like the ACT.
R-S Central High School is proud of its graduation rate and has attained record numbers over the last few years. In fact, the most recent report indicated the highest 4-year graduation cohort rate ever achieved at R-S Central, 90.1%. The chart below shows cohort graduation rates over the last three years. Counselors work in concert with our graduation coach to support students and help them see the importance of graduation. Reaching our goal of improved testing results will assist us in further improvements to our graduation rate. Additionally, Rutherford County Schools has agreed to take part in the pilot program that raises the legal age for dropout from 16 to 18, a testament of our commitment to seeking new heights for our graduation standards.
Graduation Cohort Rate (GCR):
4 year GCR 2014-2015 86.8% 2015-2016 86.6% 2016-2017 90.1%
5 year GCR 2014-2015 87.7% 2015-2016 87.8% 2016-2017 87.7%
Additional profile data elements have been reviewed in the development of our school improvement plan. R-S Central High School serves a population of students that is around 24% minority. Approximately 20% of the students are identified as exceptional children and have individualized education plans. The school’s partnership with the Robert and Janice McNair Educational Foundation provides staff and students with additional supports that enable our students to graduate career and college ready.
Stakeholder perspectives are key in creating a positive school culture that adds to the overall school profile. According to 2016 AdvancEd survey results, 85.25% of our parents either agree or strongly agree that our school’s purpose statement is clearly focused on student success. 98.11% of R-S Central teachers believe that our purpose statement is rooted in student success. R-S Central takes tremendous pride in the diversity of its course offerings. Through our partnership with ICC, students have the opportunity to receive certifications in vocational courses or receive college credit in a variety of offerings. In fact, 72% of our students feel that R-S Central creates opportunities for students to participate in activities that interest them. Improved communication has come through online platforms, like Canvas. These programs serve as a medium for communication with students and parents. Parents can maintain a clear picture of student progress, academic purpose, and relevant data. Through the school website, details about events and school policies allow for access to procedural order. Leveraging positive attitudes about our school along with appropriate strategies for continuous improvement will help us work toward a long term vision of ensuring that students graduate ready to be successful in a global community.
Beliefs and Mission
School Vision: All students will be successful in a global community.
School Mission: R-S Central High School is committed to providing all students the opportunity to learn in an environment that fosters excellence, recognizes achievement, and instills the self-discipline to become a productive citizen in a global community.
School Beliefs: - All students can reach their full potential when provided appropriate opportunities in a safe and supportive environment. - Students need to be challenged and see relevance in the curriculum. - All students can become life long-long learners. - School staff should have high expectations for all students. - All school staff must commit to the continuous improvement of the school. - Community involvement and parental support are vital to the success of the school. - Technology enhances teaching and learning, providing a level playing field for students to compete in a global community.
Identification of Vision, Mission, and Beliefs: The administration met during the summer of 2017 with a committee of staff members including teachers on the school’s executive leadership team. The group reviewed data results from performance metrics on state mandated tests and from surveys that had been distributed to students, parents, and staff in prior years. Based upon data review, the committee developed goals for improvement that were in line with the school’s vision, mission, and beliefs.
Communication of Vision, Mission, and Beliefs to Stakeholders: The vision, mission, and beliefs of R-S Central High School are communicated to internal and external stakeholders in a variety of ways. The information is contained on our website and posted throughout the school. Students are provided this information during class meetings at the beginning of the year. Parents receive this information during freshman orientation and open house events. We have also worked with local businesses and community stakeholders to apprise them of our vision, mission, and beliefs, as well as attempt to involve them with the implementation of strategies to reach our goals.
School Decisions Based on Vision, Mission, and Beliefs: R-S Central High School’s vision, mission, and beliefs are at the heart of all decisions made within the school. Programs that provide support in reading and test taking skills are being implemented to help students reach their potential academically. Extracurricular activities are also integrated within the school culture to ensure that students can reach their potential as well-rounded individuals. Policies and procedures within the school are developed to establish a safe and caring environment where students can be comfortable reaching high standards. In order to establish buy-in and investment, community feedback is welcomed when making programmatic, policy, and procedural decisions.
Process for Regular Evaluation of the Vision, Mission, and Beliefs: Regularly scheduled meetings with our local advisory council (LAC) and our school improvement team (SIT) are used to obtain feedback that is applied to the evaluation and validation of our vision, mission, and beliefs. The administration and school improvement team members then apply stakeholder prescribed updates to the vision, mission, and beliefs as necessary to student benefit and impact. Parent representatives are a part of the school improvement team. School improvement team members meet on a regular basis.
Desired Outcomes and Results
As previously noted, the administration met with a variety of stakeholders including teachers, students, and parents to review various school data and make revisions on the vision, mission, and beliefs of R-S Central High School. Following that meeting, additional data was released by the state that was reviewed and integrated within the plan for improvement. School Improvement Team members also met with their departments to review data and collect additional feedback. Based on feedback and discussion with those groups, the R-S Central High School Improvement Plan will work toward meeting its vision of graduating students prepared to be successful in a global community by addressing four major goals:
- R-S Central High School will meet or exceed district-wide average performance in Math I, English 2, and Biology EOC proficiency by June 30, 2019. - The percentage of juniors demonstrating college readiness by earning at least the UNC minimum composite score of 17 on the ACT assessment will increase to 60% by June 30, 2019. - At least 83% of CTE completers will achieve Silver or better performance on the ACT WorkKeys assessment by June 30, 2019. - R-S Central High School will raise the four-year cohort graduation rate to at least 95% by June 30, 2019.
Our goals were formulated with collaborative data analysis sourced from local, state, and national educational priorities. Data used in the determination of the above goals included assessment data released by DPI, EVAAS, parent and student survey data, and Teacher Working Conditions survey data.
In reviewing the testing data listed above, our School Improvement Team, while pleased with the improvement from 2015-2016, is concerned with student growth still falling in the negative range. Continued focus will be placed on ensuring that all students are reached as we strive toward our improvement goals. Additionally, to continue our focus on academic skills, testing preparedness, and post-secondary ambitions, R-S Central High School has remodeled and bolstered its use of the flex time (Topper Time) built into the school day. Each grade level has an area of focus and teachers assigned with achievable, manageable expectations. Freshmen students will focus on the 9th grade transition, Big Deal, and Study Island activities. Sophomores will direct their focus to PreAct, PSAT, and Method Test Prep. Juniors will benefit from three teams of core teachers, on a rotating schedule, that will provide direct instruction for their content area as it is assessed on the ACT exam. Seniors will work with our college liaisons on college admissions and their homeroom teachers will also provide preparatory practice for the WorkKeys assessment. R-S Central has benefitted from an enormous upswing in WorkKeys success. We are determined to maintain this trend. It is the hope of the team that our district’s ambitious and worthy commitment to the pilot that raises the legal dropout rate from 16 to 18 will further improve our graduation rate successes. This opportunity will require student attendance and allow staff members additional opportunities to help students stay on track for graduation. The continued services of a graduation coach is also critical to our goal of continued improvement of the cohort graduation rate.
All students should leave R-S Central High School with basic knowledge in a variety of subjects and have the soft skills needed to compete in today’s workforce. It is the hope of our School Improvement Team that the above named goals for improvement will help each student find success in their post-secondary lives. We strive to ensure our work in school improvement will help students to think critically, problem solve, understand the opportunities available to them beyond high school, and contribute positively to the community around them.
Analysis of Organizational and Instructional Effectiveness
R-S Central High School strives to ensure that the goals of our School Improvement Plan mirror the strategies of our district strategic plan. Part of the work of our School Improvement Team, so far, has been to reflect on our school’s strengths and weaknesses in addressing those strategic plan goals. Capitalizing on our strengths as a team of educators and addressing our weaknesses in instructional delivery are necessary elements to any plans for improvement.
In order to engage all students in demanding modern instruction that focuses on preparing students for postsecondary success, we have continued to expand and support our AP courses and early college opportunities. We are also rich in 21st century educational technology resources. In preparing students for postsecondary success in today’s world, our School Improvement Team has identified a challenge with aligning our vast technology resources to standards based instruction. Our ITF has identified a more concerted effort at standards based instruction as a cornerstone for this year’s PLC meetings. As part of an initiative we have had for several years, we plan to continue our use of instructional coaches and instructional rounds as one method to support our teachers in fostering student opportunities for genuine application of the knowledge gained in course work.
R-S Central High School will continue to work diligently on being responsive to students’ ever changing social, emotional, and developmental needs. Ongoing efforts in this area have been strongest in the area of student counseling. Counselors meet with each student multiple times in the school year to determine scheduling needs. Our Student Services Management Team (SSMT) meets weekly, with specific groups of students, to encourage them and help with academic problems, attendance issues, and/or personal issues that form barriers to academic success. Additionally, our graduation coach makes regular contact with struggling students and their parents to help plan pathways toward graduation. A potential weakness in the area of responsiveness to student need is ensuring that all teachers are communicating regularly with parents about student progress, behavior, and attendance. Communication is critical. While we have directed teachers to keep contact logs with parents and facilitate routine communication, we have also implemented the use of School Messenger, the Hilltopper Stakeholder Center, Canvas portals, the school website, local media, and the front office monitor as additional methods of increasing communication and rapport with stakeholders. Our faculty and support staff are also working hard to coach and mentor students in the value and importance of taking ownership of their learning. Flex time (Topper Time) will be another tool used for facilitating this message to our students. Additionally, a mentoring program specifically geared toward at-risk students, called Check and Connect, will begin this year.
R-S Central High School is blessed to have modern and safe learning facilities along with its technology rich learning resources. Traditional classrooms, vocational classrooms, gymnasiums, athletic fields, an auditorium, a cafeteria, and a media center are all a part of the school facilities. Vocational classrooms include space and resources for hands-on learning. Social areas of the school, such as the media center and commons area, allow students to work collaboratively and also provide space for the display of student work and awards. Technology resources have expanded the available resources teachers and students can use in the learning process. Every classroom has an interactive whiteboard and every student is issued a laptop, that in most cases may be taken home, for use in completing assignments. The school Help Desk, located within the media center, provides assistance to students when they need help with their computers. Through the use of software like iMovie and online tools like Google Apps for Education, students can do more project based, real-world assignments than ever before. Our learning management system, Canvas, allows teachers to provide assignments to students digitally and allows parents to track student progress through the observer portal.
As focus for this SIP cycle, R-S Central intends to improve in the areas of EOC proficiency, ACT and WorkKeys achievement, and graduation rate.
R-S Central High School will meet or exceed district-wide average performance in Math I, English 2, and Biology EOC proficiency by June 30, 2019. R-S Central has significantly improved in EOC proficiency of the last few years. It is the belief of the administration and SIT that continued focus may be met with continued success.
The percentage of juniors demonstrating college readiness by earning at least the UNC minimum composite score of 17 on the ACT assessment will increase from approximately 55.8% to 60% by June 30, 2019. At least 83% of CTE completers will achieve Silver or better performance on the ACT WorkKeys assessment by June 30, 2019. This will mark a greater than 7% improvement from the current 75.7%. As R-S Central continues to guide students to post secondary ambitions, it is critical that we make our students competitive with students from across the state. Consequently, continued and sustained improvement in the area of ACT and WorkKeys achievement will help to level the playing field for our students as they matriculate from the high school setting.
R-S Central High School will raise the four-year cohort graduation rate from 90.1% to at least 95% by June 30, 2019. In collaboration with our district's participation in North Carolina's Compulsory Attendance Pilot Program, R-S Central is driven to make the most of an opportunity to extend the legal term of high school attendance. This opportunity will give our dedicated teachers two additional years to redirect and mentor students that may have otherwise dropped out.
Stakeholder perspectives are key. While we are excited by opportunities to further our growth and successes, we also have significant stakeholder feedback for which to proud. According to 2016 AdvancEd survey results, 85.25% of our parents either agree or strongly agree that our school’s purpose statement is clearly focused on student success. 98.11% of R-S Central teachers believe that our purpose statement is rooted in student success. Of our teachers, 98% agree that R-S Central uses multiple assessment measures to determine student learning and school performance. Likewise, 100% of our teachers agree that school leaders monitor data related to student achievement and to school continuous improvement goals. District leadership ensures adequate facilities conducive to student learning. Parent survey results indicate stakeholder acknowledgement in this area with 86% agreeing that the facilities support student learning and 86% maintaining that our school provides a safe learning environment. Furthermore, 100% of our teachers and 96.39% of our parents believe that R-S Central provides students with technology necessary to learn and succeed.
Our School Improvement Team intends to use the variety of technology resources, available through subscriptions and open sources, to expand and differentiate instruction. We also encourage the use of areas within the school where collaborative projects can be done. Examples of such areas are the Learning Commons, the reading center, the seminar room, and the green screen room. By ensuring students know how to self advocate and evaluate their own performance, we intend to build on our counseling work concerning students with scheduling issues. Timeframes and deadlines associated with the contrast between the ICC and high school calendars create complexities and concerns with scheduling that may need further attention.
R-S Central High School will address weaknesses related to instructional delivery through meetings with individual teachers that need additional support, PDP development, the beginning teacher committee, and instructional rounds. We will continue to strengthen each department PLC’s ability to review, evaluate, and act appropriately in response to data results collected. The administration also will increase classroom walk-throughs and observations to ensure implementation of school wide strategies for improvement. Scheduling strategies will also be implemented to provide additional teacher support and collaborative planning time. For example, common planning for teachers of EOC courses will continue to be built into the master schedule. Innovative practices such as our implementation of the Fusion reading program and our participation in the Mathematics Design Collaborative (MDC) and Literacy Design Collaborative (LDC) programs will also be leveraged to address noted weaknesses in targeted areas for instructional improvement.