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 750 students. Rutherfordton, Spindale, Chimney Rock, and Lake Lure are just a few of the townships within R-S Central’s footprint. Enrollment numbers have declined in recent years, likely a product of a decrease in the population of school-aged children across the county as well as the addition of Lake Lure Classical Academy within our district boundaries and Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy within the county. R-S Central boasts a rich and distinguished tradition featuring numerous notable alumni. Stakeholders, staff members, and students share a sense of pride in our academic programs, extracurricular opportunities, and exceptional 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 2019, the school had 57 certified personnel. Of those teachers, 95% were licensed, 100% were Highly Qualified, approximately a quarter of the faculty had advanced degrees, and eight were National Board certified. Nearly 50% of the teaching staff had more than ten years of teaching experience. All students have access to twenty-first 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.
The table below illustrates EOC performance for the last four school years. While our Proficiency levels, overall, are on the rise with a slight drop in the 2018-19 school year. Although the magnitude of growth decreased from one year to the next, in both 2017-18 and 2018-19 R-S Central met its growth expectations outlined by NCDPI. Strategies for improvement need to continue the pattern of growth while also increasing the number of students that are considered proficient in these core subjects.
English II 2015-16 42.1% English II 2016-17 52.3% English II 2017-18 59.6% English II 2018-19 57.9%
Math I 2015-16 39.8% Math I 2016-17 47.3% Math I 2017-18 54.5% Math I 2018-19 48.0%
The next data listed shows the percentage of students meeting the minimum UNC system admission requirement score of 17 or higher on the ACT. This percentage is 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, math, and test taking strategies, but also indicates a steady rise for five consecutive years.
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.
R-S Central High School would like to continue to challenge students to take courses to develop their skills in mathematics. For the last seven 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, while making tremendous gains over the last decade, has experienced a slight drop in the graduation cohort rate over the last few years. The chart below shows cohort graduation rates over the last five 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 sixteen to eighteen, a testament of our commitment to seeking new standards for our graduation expectations.
Additional profile data has been reviewed in the development of our school improvement plan. R-S Central High School serves a population of students that is around 27% minority. Approximately 17% 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 a 2018 working conditions survey results, 93.7% of our certified personnel believe teachers are held to high professional standards for delivering instruction. 95.4% of R-S Central teachers believe that teachers are encouraged to reflect on their practice. 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. 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 2019 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 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 three major goals:
SMART Goal 1 Statement: R-S Central High School will meet or exceed district- wide average performance in NC Math I, Math III, English II, and Biology EOC proficiency by June 2021.
SMART Goal 2 Statement: 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%; 83% of CTE "completers" will achieve Silver or better on the ACT WorkKeys; and R-S Central’s combined indicator measure will be 75% or better by June 2021.
SMART Goal 3 Statement: R-S Central High School will raise the four-year cohort graduation rate to at least 90% by June 2021.
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 is pleased with the improvement with student growth from 2017-2019. For two consecutive years (2017-2018; 2018-2019), R-S Central has met student growth. Continued focus needs to be placed on improving overall testing proficiency scores. While our proficiency scores have declined, it is encouraging to see that teachers are growing students and meeting them where they are and moving them towards where they are capable of going - ensuring that all students are reached as we strive toward our improvement goals. R-S Central High School has continued to remodel and bolster 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 MTSS intervention groups with content specific teachers and lessons. 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 ACT WorkKeys assessment. R-S Central has benefitted from upswing in ACT WorkKeys success. We are determined to maintain this trend. It is the hope of the team that our district’s ambitious commitment to the pilot that raises the legal dropout rate from 16 to 18 will pay positive dividends towards our graduation rate. 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 support our AP courses and early college opportunities. To this cause, we have attempted to modify scheduling practices and offerings for our AP classes in hopes of improving the access for our students. We are also rich in 21st century educational technology resources. 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 increase our teachers’ access and usage of use of instructional rounds as one method to support our teachers’ application of the knowledge gained in course work. Likewise, administration intends to significantly increase the use of walkthroughs as an additional tool, non-evaluative, for teachers to get additional feedback about the instruction taking place in classrooms.
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 position 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, 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. Topper Time will be another tool used for facilitating this message to our students.
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, and the R-S Central Maker Space, 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.
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 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. Innovative practices such as the Fusion reading program, structured school-wide tutoring, and 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.