Rutherford County Schools

382 West Main Street
Forest City, NC 28043


All Rutherford County students will graduate prepared for college and career success.

2021-2023 School Improvement Plan

Sunshine Elementary School

Mr. Neil Higgins, Principal

231 Toney Road
Bostic, NC 28160
Telephone: 828-245-0658 | Fax: 828-245-0658

Section 1: School Profile

Sunshine Elementary School is nestled in the majestic foothills of North Carolina's Rutherford County and continues its long-standing tradition of serving as the heart of this community. Current enrollment is approximately 175 students with a 92% daily attendance rate. All 17 teachers at Sunshine Elementary School are fully licensed and hold the "highly qualified" teaching status as defined by the state. In addition to this status, 25% of teachers hold an advanced degree, and 17% hold the designation of National Board Certified. We currently employ 6 full-time teacher assistants.

An AdvancED survey given to parents, staff, and students in April 2016 showed school satisfaction results were greater than 90%. The school is continuing to seek ways to garner input from all stakeholders, especially regarding the development and fulfillment of the school’s vision and mission. The staff at Sunshine Elementary School is dedicated to helping each student reach his or her maximum potential. Based on the 2018 Teacher Working Conditions Survey, one hundred percent of our teachers have sufficient access to a broad range of professional support personnel. Also, 94% of our staff agree that teachers have access to reliable communication technology, including phones, faxes, and email.

The school annually competes in tournaments such as the Elementary Book Challenge and Rutherford County Robotics. In 2015-16, the school celebrated a win of first place honors in Robotic Performance at the robotics regional event and was named one of the top three teams in the overall competition. In 2018 we competed in the Carolina Isobots Regional Competition where we won the Robot Award for Programming. During the 2018-2019 school year Sunshine placed second during the county Battle of the Books competition. In the 2019-2020 school year, the school placed 2nd overall in the robotics company.

Like all schools, Sunshine has unique challenges. The community has a limited number of businesses and few opportunities for economic partnerships, however, we are able to form partnerships with county-wide businesses. Due to high unemployment rate in the county, families are migrating away from the community. Fortunately, many of our educational challenges are addressed through participation in federal programs that provide additional resources to support students. Also, beginning with the 2014-15 school year, Rutherford County Schools participated in the Community Eligibility Program (CEP), an amendment to the National School Lunch Act, which provides all students with free breakfast and lunch each school day. We will continue our participation in the CEP program.

Our student population consists of 95% White and 5% Other, which is made up of Multi-racial, Hispanic, and Middle Eastern. 62% of Sunshine Elementary students are male, and 38% are female. The school has a high percentage of students who are economically disadvantaged with 82% of the students qualifying for free or reduced price meals, as referenced by a USDA formula. Twenty-one percent of our students participate in the Exceptional Children's program, and 33% of fourth and fifth grade students qualify for Academically & Intellectually Gifted (AIG) program services.

The 2018-2019 school year, Sunshine Elementary's mClass Reading 3D data showed improvement in DIBELS from 67% proficient at beginning of year to 69% proficient at end of year. We are slightly above the county average of 47% in TRC with a 56% proficiency. Spring results from Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) indicate that school-wide proficiency is 78% in math and 71% in reading. Eighty percent of Sunshine students received passing scores on the North Carolina end-of-grade assessments during the 2018-19 school year, a trend which continues to place Sunshine's performance in the top three elementary schools within the Rutherford County district. Students in grades 3-5 continue to show improved performance on their end-of-grade assessments. The percentage of students scoring proficient on the 2019 Reading EOG assessment was 79.5% (up from 72.7% in 2018.)The percentage of students scoring proficient on the 2019 Math EOG assessment was 79.5. On the 5th grade Science EOG test, 87.9% of students were proficient. Students scored above both district and state average proficiency scores on all three academic areas. As a result of this success, Sunshine Elementary received a School Performance Grade of "B" for the 2018-19 school year.

Due to the pandemic that affected the North Carolina school system, students were released in March 2020 and were sent home to complete remote learning. End of Grade testing and spring MAP testing were suspended for the 2019-2020 school year.

During the 2020-2021 school year, students began the year learning remotely. There were many changes with instruction throughout the year. Students had the option to select in-person learning or remote learning and were able to change their course of learning during the year. Some students selected remote learning the whole year. Despite the many challenges during the pandemic, 100% of Sunshine students participated in end-of-year assessments. Overall, the school scored 62%, down from 81% in 2018-2019.

Section 2: Beliefs and Mission

Sunshine Elementary School's vision is to equip students with the foundational skills needed to continue their education, allowing them future opportunities to successfully participate within a global community.

Sunshine Elementary School's mission is to provide a safe and supportive environment in which all students are encouraged to grow academically, socially, and emotionally. Through collaborations with parents and the community, students are empowered to discover their own strengths and achieve their maximum potential. High expectations are set for all students, providing support when needed through enrichment, intervention, and remediation activities.

Stakeholders were involved in the development of the school's vision and mission through participation in annual parent surveys, periodic local advisory board meetings (held during each school reporting period), and scheduled School Improvement Team meetings held throughout the year.

Our vision and mission are communicated to our stakeholders during PTO meetings, in parent-teacher communications, on school letterhead, revivals that are held at our school, Advisory Board meetings, Heritage Day supporters/community members, and on postings throughout the school.

Discussions with stakeholders have unveiled the belief that, by the time they leave Sunshine, our students should be able to:
* develop a curiosity to seek and further explore the world around them
* learn not only how to read but how to read with purpose and for enjoyment
* write fluently for a variety of purposes
* gain an understanding of mathematical concepts and real-life applications
* acquire an interest and understanding of scientific concepts
* integrate technology to enhance their learning
* persevere through the use of problem-solving & critical thinking skills

Section 3: Desired Outcomes and Results

The School Improvement Team met to consider and identify the school’s broad vision for learning outcomes. Each member provided input from other staff members in regard to academic expectations. Along with school data from the Education Value-Added Assessment System (EVAAS), the following formative and summative assessments were used to help define the school's desired outcomes: Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) district benchmarks, mClass assessments, NC Check-ins, NC end-of-grade tests (EOGs), NC Read to Achieve guidelines, and Standardized Test for Assessment of Reading (STAR) assessments.

School Accountability Growth was met during the 2018-19 school year. Based on combined EOG scores in reading, math, and science data shows an improvement in overall student proficiency, increasing from 76% in 2018 to 80% in 2019.

Rutherford County Schools' strategic performance outcomes state that students will meet or exceed regional averages in the percentage of students achieving Level III or better on NC End of Grade Tests of Mathematics, Reading, and Science. The goal for Sunshine is for 75% of students to achieve a Level lll or better in Reading, 75% or better in Mathematics, and 80% or better in Science. This outcome is aligned with our school's focus, as mentioned above. Our desired outcomes also align with state and national educational priorities that focus on developing college and career readiness skills in 21st Century learners. We will work to achieve these goals by fully implementing MTSS in classrooms. This process allows struggling students to be focused on in their weakest areas, borderline students will be in small groups to have focus placed on their strengths and weaknesses, and high-level students will be placed in groups to further their learning and given challenges to broaden their learning experience.

Section 4: Analysis of Organizational and Instructional Effectiveness

Review of Our School’s Strengths and Weaknesses Relative to Transformation Strategies

Transformation Strategy 1: Engage every student in rigorous, personalized learning focused on college and career success.

Current strengths of our school:
* a strong teaching staff (as outlined in the school profile section) and strong leadership that effectively manages school resources and supports relationships with all stakeholders
* on-going enrichment, intervention, and remediation opportunities (e.g., Academically & Intellectually Gifted program, “Bear Time” daily interventions that are based on Responsiveness to Instruction principles)
* implementation of district-wide initiatives that support teaching and learning (e.g., MIF-Math Instructional Framework websites that encapsulate a wealth of research-based instructional tools)
* unique opportunities to promote rigorous 21st Century learning
* specialized academic opportunities that include membership on the Elementary Book Challenge, Robotics Team, or chance to compete in the District Spelling Bee.

Current needs of our school:
* decrease deficits in student vocabulary skills
* cultivate excitement for reading in students
* increase student perseverance and motivation to complete challenging assignments
* provide professional development to support the implementation and impact of new technology

Transformation Strategy 2: Ensure that a comprehensive, integrated system of support fosters students’ social and emotional health.

Current strengths of our school:
* community partnerships that support both social and academic goals (66 participants in Backpack Food Program supported by area churches; special programs led by
School Resource Officers and other volunteers)
* frequent interactions with parents (Activities include: meet your teacher night, open house, STEM Day, Grandparents Day, fall festival, curriculum-related field trips, book fair, Book Character Parade (book character dress-up with books and treats), Veteran’s Day program, etc.)
* opportunities to address student school-related needs outside of the classroom (e.g., transition meeting for 5th graders going to middle school)
* fifth-grade annual field trip to Walt Disney World, Florida

Current needs of our school:
* address academic deficits associated with low socioeconomic status, such as vocabulary weaknesses (79% of our students come from homes that meet Title 1 criteria for low socioeconomic status, based on data from 2018-19 school year)


Transformation Strategy 3: Ensure all students’ equitable access to safe, modern, educational facilities, and appropriate learning resources.

Current strengths of our school:
* a strong emphasis on safety (e.g., safety panels, locked doors, and security cameras installed throughout the building; required visitor check-ins at the front office using the Lobby Guard safety check-in system; daily visits by School Resource Officers from the Sheriff’s Department; procedures for crisis prevention and intervention reviewed annually with staff and posted throughout the building)
* classrooms equipped with tools for 21st-century learning (e.g., Promethean boards, document cameras, iPads, Apple TV)
* media center containing 10,000 books available for student check-out
* teachers' resource book room, school-wide web links, STEAM Lab, instructional coaches and technology facilitators.

Current needs of our school:
* monitor and share to show consistent implementation of strategies and programs
* monitor consistent implementation of IABS (Integrated Academic & Behavior Systems), which was once known as PBIS (part of MTSS)


Transformation Strategy 4: Initiate, sustain, and leverage strong external partnerships that support student learning and school success.

Current strengths of our school:
* our annual Bear Foot Run is our largest school-wide fundraiser which is supported by local and county-wide businesses.
* the funds that are raised for this event are used for supplemental supplies, such as copy machine fees and school-wide tutors.
* our annual Heritage Day event allows local, home-based business/hobby holders to showcase their talents to our students.
* during this event, our community is invited to partake in the day's activities

Current needs of our school:
* communication with our external partnerships could be increased to make them more aware of the needs of our students and school

Identified strengths of our school that will be leveraged to help address school goals include the following:
* Title I funds are conscientiously used to allow our school to maintain smaller class sizes, limit the need for multi-grade combination classes, and fund literacy tutors
* opportunities for students to participate in competitive programs (e.g., Robotics Team, Spelling Bee, Elementary Book Challenge)
* volunteer participation from a variety of community-based sources (e.g., faith-based organizations, law enforcement officers, retired teachers)

Additional ways to address identified areas of weakness:
* participate in necessary trainings through professional learning communities and programs offered by the district and state (e.g., grade level and cross grade level collaborations, regular collaboration with Instructional Coaches and Technology Facilitators)
* continue use of on-going programs that are effective (e.g., use of Math Instructional Framework, Bear Time intervention groups, literacy tutors, daily walk-throughs monitoring fidelity of instruction and interventions)
* implement new programs being offered for instructional support (e.g., 1:1 technology initiative, Canvas training, iStation training)
* continue to offer additional parent and teacher resources (e.g., take requests for new additions to Parent Bookroom, renew licenses for online educational websites)
* address lack of parent participation in school programs by changing the format of events, based on parent and staff input

Innovative Practices Needed:

Based upon this close analysis of our school’s strengths and weaknesses, and after obtaining input from all stakeholders, we have decided to increase our focus on Transformation Strategy Number 1. Our goals for Strategy Number 1 will reconsider the effects of student motivation, problem-solving, and critical thinking skills.

To sharpen focus on Transformation Strategy 1, our school will develop a goal to implement a school-wide system that rewards students for completing special rigorous assignments designed to challenge students at all levels. These assignments will correspond to our desired outcomes and beliefs.


Section 5: Action Plan

Roster of School Improvement Team Members

Schedule of School Improvement Team Meetings

Supplemental Material

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