Section 1: School Profile Student and Community Demographic Data
The students of East Rutherford Middle School (ERMS) come from rural communities with a population of 9,992. The current enrollment of the school is 580. There have been shifts in the percentage of racial or ethnic groups represented in our student population in the last two years. The percentage of African American students has decreased from 15% in 2016 to 13.4% in 2019-2020. The percentage of Hispanic students has increased from 5% to 10% in the last three years as well. Furthermore, the percentage of students with limited English proficiency has also increased from 2% to 4% in the last five years.
Numerous textile and manufacturing plants dominated Rutherford County’s economy from the late 1800s until recent years. In fact, in 1990, 48% of the jobs in Rutherford County were in the manufacturing sector. The percentage of employment in manufacturing dropped to 35% in 2002, but was still a significantly higher influence in the local economy compared to 15% of the workforce employed in the manufacturing industry in 2010 (North Carolina Employment Security Commission, 2010). The closing of many manufacturing plants in Rutherford County throughout the past two decades has caused hardships for families. Previously, sixty percent of our students that were served by RCS qualified for free or reduced lunch. Starting in 2014-2015 all students receive free breakfast and lunch as a result of the Community Eligibility Provision Program (CGP) offered through the USDA. Also, we started offering a 2nd chance breakfast for students who missed the first breakfast; this program began in the 2017-2018 school year. According to the report referenced above, the median hourly wage for all occupations in Rutherford County in 2011 was $13.20. The unemployment rate for the county has decreased from 14.8% (2011, North Carolina Employment Security Commission, 2011) to 4.8% (2018, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). Rutherford county moved from Tier 1 to Tier 2. Tier 1 counties are generally the most economically distressed and Tier 3 counties are generally the least economically distressed. Rutherford County’s total population is 66,826 (2018) which is divided by 37% living in urbanized clusters, 1.3% living on farms, and 61.7% living in rural, non-farm classified areas. There has been a 2% increase (79% to 81%) in the county’s population 25 years of age or older have attained at least a high school diploma, and 3% increase (14.6% to 17.3%) have earned at least a Bachelor’s degree (U.S Census, July 2018).
Rutherford County’s motto of “Small Town Friendly” describes the county well. People smile, wave, and speak when you pass by them in the grocery store or on the street. This rural county is continuing to adapt to the changes brought about by technology. The construction of a Facebook data center, the completion of the Public Safety Fiber Network, and the development of the Foothills Connect Business and Technology Center have helped usher Rutherford County into the twenty-first century, providing the necessary tools and infrastructure for the county’s citizens to be globally competitive (Miller, 2010; Golden LEAF, 2009).
East Rutherford Middle School (ERMS) is a public institution within a rural area serving the towns of Bostic, Ellenboro, Forest City, and Sunshine. ERMS emerged in stages. In 1995, its first year of operation, students in grades 6-8 from Bostic Elementary School, Ellenboro Elementary School, and Sunshine Elementary School attended classes in the newly constructed building. At the start of the 1998-1999 school year, 7th and 8th grade students from Cool Springs Junior High and 6th grade students from Dunbar Elementary School joined the 6th, 7th, and 8th graders enrolled at ERMS. In order to accommodate a larger student body as well as additional faculty and staff, each wing of ERMS was extended. Four classrooms, faculty restroom facilities, and additional storage rooms were added to each the 6th, 7th, and 8th grade halls.
ERMS demographics have steadily maintained. As of now, ERMS has 580 students enrolled with the average class size being 25. ERMS has 40 certified personnel and six support staff. Based on the North Carolina School Report Card 2018-2019, the years of teaching experience for certified staff is as follows: 0-3 years is 21.6%, 4-10 years 18.9%, and more than 10 years is 59.5%. The number of faculty with advanced degrees is 37.8%, and there are seven National Board certified teachers. Funding for students across the state of North Carolina has decreased over the past several years, despite the rising operational costs and increased learning needs of our students we continue to provide the best resources for our students and teachers. We receive funding from our local LEA.
ERMS also provides a One-to-One environment in which every student has an iPad for use at school and home. All classrooms are equipped with Promethean boards and Apple TVs. Teachers also have access to a document camera, Macbook, and iPad to use for teaching and learning. We also have a green screen room where students can create videos. A variety of academic support and enhancement programs are offered to our students during our daily WIN time. The WIN time is a forty minute intervention block that supports our MTSS school-wide goals. Students have the opportunity to receive small group instruction centered around reading and math goals. Teachers also have access to a variety of online instructional resources such as: Power Reading Online, Freckle for all core class content, USA Test Prep, Khan Academy, and NewsELA. Teachers also use a learning management system called Canvas to deliver the content and collection of assignments and data.
ERMS also follows the Rutherford County Middle School rigor program, which allows students who are identified as Academically Gifted or who meet high performance requirements to take advanced classes. These students qualify to take high school level courses in the 8th grade. These students are also working above grade level in language arts and follow a school-based curriculum that employs above grade level materials and higher level thinking strategies and activities. ERMS offers a variety of clubs and sports. There are 12 sports including football, baseball, cheerleading, basketball, cross country, soccer, golf, softball, tennis, track, volleyball, and wrestling. Clubs and organizations at the school are the North Carolina Junior Beta Club, Student Council, Quiz Bowl, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, New Century Scholars, Heart of a Champion, Battle of the Books, Buddy Club, robotics, band, and chorus.
School safety is vital to providing a quality learning environment for students and teachers at East Rutherford Middle School. In the 2016-2017 school year ERMS implemented Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS). ERMS has been awarded a Green Ribbon for this work in the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 through PBIS.
Student Performance Data
State-wide assessments of student learning are conducted in reading, mathematics, science and social studies. All students in grades six through eight are required to participate in statewide testing. The percentage of our students who are grade level proficient based on state standards in reading and math for the 2017-2018 school year is lower than the state and county averages. In Table 2 below are the percentages of students at each grade level who passed in the areas of reading, math, and science for the 2018-2019 school year. In comparing the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 data, we decreased slightly in grade level proficiency in English from 55.1% to 54.8%, increased significantly in grade level proficiency in Math from 50.9% to 59.1%, and decreased in grade level proficiency in science from an 81.4% to 80.3%. A portion of our students qualify to take a select number of high school classes. One such class is Math I. Our Math I grade level proficiency for the 2018-2019 school year was 91.8%.
Table 2. East Rutherford Middle School EOG/EOC Results for 2018-19
2018-2019 EOG Proficiency Data
6th Grade Math 62.4% 6th Grade Reading 65.3%
7th Grade Math 61.6% 7th Grade Reading 52.0%
8th Grade Math 53.6% 8th Grade Reading 46.4% 8th Grade Science 80.3% EOC Math I 91.8%
According to 2017-2018 EVAAS data, East Rutherford Middle School did meet expected growth and received a performance score of 64 C, which showed significant improvement from the previous three school years. East Rutherford Middle made a performance score of a 55 C in the 2014-15 school year, then a performance score of 52 D in 2015-16, and a 53 D in 2016-17. AMO results indicate the following subgroups as areas of concern for our school; Blacks, Economically Disadvantaged, English Learners, Homeless, and Students with Disabilities. These subgroups scored significantly lower than the average norms for East Rutherford Middle School for the 2017-2018 school year.
Stakeholder Perspectives on the Quality of Education
The School Improvement Team closely monitors various sources of data to drive our decision making, one of which is the NC Teacher Working Conditions Survey. East Rutherford Middle School's focus on providing quality teaching and learning is supported by the results of the NC Teacher Working Conditions Survey for 2018, which claims "teachers have time to collaborate with colleagues" in our school (86.7%), and that "teachers are allowed to focus on instruction with minimal interruptions" (86.7%). Teachers agree that "teachers are recognized as educational experts" (84.3%) and that "teachers are trusted to make professional decisions about instruction (84.7%) and see themselves as effective leaders" (87.5%). According to the results, some areas for concern include "differentiation of professional development" and "evaluation of professional development and feedback." Overall, teachers agree that "professional development enhances the teacher's ability to improve student learning" at East Rutherford Middle School. Teachers agree "that East Rutherford Middle School is a good place to work and learn" (87.1%).
Beliefs and Mission
Section 2: Beliefs and Mission VISION: Preparing Students Today for Success Tomorrow! MISSION: East Rutherford Middle School, as part of Rutherford County Schools, is committed to partnering with family and community to ensure the success of our students today and in the future. Through excellence in instruction and technology, we will shape thoughtful, articulate young adults who are constructive members of a diverse, dynamic, and global society.
BELIEFS: ERMS staff collaboratively composed the following six statements: * All students can learn. * Students learn in different ways and should be provided with a variety of instructional approaches to support their learning. * Challenging expectations increase individual student performance. * Each student is a valued individual with unique physical, social, emotional, and intellectual needs. * A safe and physically comfortable environment promotes student learning. * Teachers, administrators, parents, and the community share the responsibility for advancing a school’s mission.
East Rutherford Middle School staff met during the back to school faculty meeting (August 2013) and divided into groups based on ranges of years of experience. Each group read the current mission statement, and through brainstorming and looking at school belief statements, each team generated their own suggested mission statement. Each team’s statement was then added to a survey and sent out to the entire school staff for a vote. The mission statement with the most votes was selected as our new mission statement.Through the process of writing, revising, and approving the School Improvement Plan each year, the faculty and staff reviews, discusses, and edits as needed the vision, mission, and belief statements. Each classroom displays the ERMS Vision and Mission statements. The vision statement is displayed in the entryway of the school building. ERMS's website also promotes the vision statement. In addition to developing a vision and mission statements, East Rutherford Middle School is working toward Tier 3 support for students. In the 2017-2018 school year, the faculty and staff were trained in Tier 1 and implemented this tier within the school. In 2018-2019, the faculty and staff were trained in Tier 2 and implemented this tier within the school. For both of these school years, East Rutherford Middle School was awarded the PBIS Green Ribbon. The faculty and staff was also trained in Tier 3 and the school has been recognized as a Green Ribbon School for this school year.
Desired Outcomes and Results
Section 3: Desired Outcomes and Results East Rutherford Middle School’s School Improvement Team has established a shared vision for our school by reviewing our previously established belief statements, past and present performance data, and our desired outcomes for all students. Our school vision, mission and beliefs continuously drive all important decisions made within the school, including policy and resource allocation decisions. These key decisions are initially brought to the school improvement team for discussion and evaluation to determine if they support the vision of preparing students to be successful in the future. The school improvement team continuously focuses on improving student and teacher performance, as well as effectively using available resources to best meet the needs of all stakeholders. In addition, the team closely monitors performance indicators to ensure that our efforts are focused on carrying out our mission. To this end, we acknowledge that performance on standard assessments, both proficiency and growth, must be a priority for the work of our school improvement team. In order to evaluate our performance and identify areas of specific need, ERMS uses EVAAS, NCFE and EOG data, as well as local data such as MAP and district benchmarks.
East Rutherford Middle School recognizes that in order to truly be successful in meeting the needs of our students and our community, we must align our school improvement plans with the plans of the district, state, and nation for improving public education. In order to prepare our students for careers of the future, ERMS has committed to working together to ensure that our students are fully equipped.
East Rutherford Middle School’s vision of preparing students today for success tomorrow reflects the district’s same vision of preparing students for college and career success. In order to meet the challenge of preparing ERMS students for their future, we recognize that the ERMS mission must include partnering with families and community members. These partnerships are invaluable to ensuring student success because they provide students with much needed support and resources. This same appreciation for the need to form partnerships with families and communities is reflected in the district’s mission statement as well. In addition, ERMS’s mission also reflects the district’s mission of preparing students to be successful in a global society or community. Both the ERMS and the district recognize the need to prepare students for the demands of a larger, more global community as the jobs of the future will exist outside the bounds of our community or state. In addition, East Rutherford Middle School’s mission of providing excellence in instruction to shape thoughtful, articulate young adults who are constructive members of society aligns perfectly with the North Carolina State Board of Education’s stated vision of graduating students that are “prepared to be globally engaged and productive citizens,” as well as the US Department of Education’s mission of promoting “student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access.”
East Rutherford Middle School also recognizes that it is not enough to align the vision and mission to that of the district, state, and nation, but that must also align ERMS expectations for student outcomes. ERMS must determine the desired student goals in order to carry out our stated vision. To that end, ERMS set about identifying our expected student outcome as detailed in the following paragraphs.
By the time students leave East Rutherford Middle School, it is anticipated that they will have a solid understanding of core subject area content, as well as a knowledge of and ability to demonstrate the skills needed to be successful in high school and beyond. This includes the ability to collaborate well with others, complete tasks on time, work independently, critically evaluate information, solve problems, generate ideas, communicate efficiently, and effectively use technology. To further align with the district’s strategic plan and ensure that students have a solid understanding of core content, East Rutherford Middle has set the goal of meeting or exceeding regional averages on the percentage of students achieving Level III or better performance on North Carolina End-of-Grade Tests of mathematics, reading, and science, as well as on North Carolina End-of-Course Test for Math I. In addition, in order to shape thoughtful, articulate young adults who are constructive members of a diverse, dynamic, and global society, there is an emphasis to help students develop healthy habits and strong leadership skills.
Goal Statement 1: By June 2021, 57% of students who are tested on the NC EOG 6th - 8th grade ELA assessment will demonstrate proficiency. Goal Statement 2: By June, 2021, 62% of students who are tested on NC EOG 6th - 8th grade Math assessment will demonstrate proficiency. Goal Statement 3: By June 2021, 83% of students who are tested on the NC EOG 8th grade Science assessment will demonstrate proficiency.
ERMS goals for school improvement plan will focus on the following: Focus 1: Extended Time for Learning *Students will gain foundational knowledge and core knowledge through remediation using Tier 2 and Tier 3 academic lessons centered math, Eureka Math, Khan Academy, and Freckle. *Students will gain foundational knowledge and core knowledge through remediation using Tier 2 and Tier 3 academic lessons centered around literacy, the District Literacy Framework, and Freckle.
Focus 2: Formative Assessment of Student Learning *Teachers will use MAP assessments three times during the year as well as district benchmarks, Khan Academy, and Freckle to progress monitor students
Focus 3: Teacher-Centered Support *Teachers will be supported by administration through weekly grade level/subject level PLCs focused on standards-based instruction as well as monthly subject level PLCs focused on standards-based instruction
Focus 4: Student-Centered Support *ERMS will continue with implement MTSS WIN time daily for at least 40 minutes, continue PBIS goals and implement Tier 3 strategies for behavior through PBIS this year
Analysis of Organizational and Instructional Effectiveness
Section 4: Analysis of Organizational and Instructional Effectiveness East Rutherford Middle School Improvement Team conducted an analysis of the school’s instructional and organizational effectiveness using the March 2018 NC Teacher Working Conditions survey, the 2019 FAM-S survey, as well as parent and student feedback. The School Improvement Team identified areas of strength, as well as areas for potential improvement. The team also analyzed the Rutherford County School’s strategic plan that identified three transformational strategies to inform this analysis. These strategies include: (1) engaging every student in rigorous 21st century instruction focused on college and career success, (2) deploying a comprehensive, integrated system of support that is responsive to students’ evolving social, emotional, and developmental needs, (3) ensuring all students’ equitable access to safe, modern, educational facilities and appropriate learning resources and (4) initiate, sustain, and leverage strong external partnerships that support student learning and school success.
In the area of engaging students in rigorous instruction focused on college and career success, East Rutherford Middle School uses a number of programs and activities to engage students in rigorous instruction that prepares them for college and career work. As part of the Rutherford County Middle School rigor program, ERMS provides opportunities for students identified as Academically Gifted or who meet high performance requirements to take advanced level classes in the areas of reading, math, and science. These students follow an advanced course track that provides the opportunity to take high school level courses in the 8th grade, including English I, Math I, Math II, and Earth & Environmental Science. From sixth grade through eighth grade, these students are challenged using a curriculum that employs above grade level materials and high level thinking strategies and activities. In addition, a variety of academic support and enhancement programs are offered to all students at East Rutherford Middle. These programs include: Power Reading Online for students who are identified as needing intensive reading support, Read Theory for all core class content, USA Test Prep for science content, Khan Academy for core class math content and intervention support, Prodigy for core class math content and intervention support, and Freckle for intervention support in the areas of reading and math. Our school has developed a daily WIN “What I Need Now” time to offer forty minutes of intervention or enrichment support based on the MAP data. Once a month we provide character education lessons during WIN as well as internet safety courses through www.learning.com.
To support the focus on college and career success, ERMS offers mentors to all 7th and 8th students to support them in being successful in school and preparing them for college and career. Mentors meet with students three times throughout the school year. ERMS uses the ABA Team, a student assistance team comprised of administration, teachers, guidance counselor, and district social worker, to identify at risk students and develop plans and strategies to address the needs of these students. Our school implemented a ERMS Lunch Buddy Program which is designed to reach students who would benefit from having an additional positive role model in their life. Lunch Buddy mentors are people from our community who desire to get to know our students and help them be successful at school. They meet with students once a month in the Commons Area and serve as an additional support system academically, emotionally, and socially. We have other external partnerships that include local businesses and church sponsorships. This year we have implemented the “Adopt a Hallway Program” where a church adopts a hallway and provides snacks, birthday cards, words of encouragement, etc for the staff on their assigned hallway. Each month our local churches visit our school and volunteer their time to our staff and students if desired. We also have had several businesses support our school providing items for school enhancement such as lawn decor and banners. Community members also speak to students during WIN time at least once every twelve weeks to provide social/emotional needs for specific student needs. Our school guidance counselor plans and implements these events for our school. These external partnerships support our students social, emotional, and academic needs in order to ensure that our students are successful. ERMS also provides an after-school Homework Help program Tuesday through Thursday from 3:00 - 4:00 PM for students for all students who want teacher assistance on homework. This allows all students to work on homework in a safe environment with free internet access.
In order to provide high quality instruction, teachers actively collaborate in grade level and vertical PLC meetings to strengthen continuity among content areas and share teaching strategies. Strong and effective PLC teams are a strength for ERMS and allow teachers to support each other by sharing resources, best practices, and encouragement. ERMS teachers meet weekly on Thursday during their planning time. On Tuesday during planning time ERMS teachers plan and develop WIN lessons centered around specific skills identified by MAP reports. In addition, over the last several years, professional development opportunities at ERMS have been focused on improving CORE instruction, MTSS, integrating technology and using iPads, Literacy Design Collaborative, Math Design Collaborative, and Eureka Math. These strategies have all had a positive impact on the quality of instruction at East Rutherford Middle School.
Quality instruction alone is not enough to meet all of the needs of students. ERMS staff recognize the need to address the whole child, including the social, emotional, and developmental needs of students in order to ensure their success. To this end, the school provides assistance with meeting the physical needs of students using an Outreach Specialist. This specialist works with the guidance counselor and school administration to identify student needs, whether it be for clothing, food, medical assistance, or even housing assistance. She then works in the community to pull resources to meet these needs. While each student is provided a free breakfast and lunch during the school day, often students do not have an adequate food supply at home in the evenings or on weekends. To combat this, the school partners with community churches as well RCS Educational Foundation to provide a backpack program that ensures students have food when they are not at school. In order to meet the emotional needs of students, ERMS employs a school counselor who counsels students individually, mediates student conflicts, and conferences with teachers and parents. Additionally, our school counselor also partners with local community members to mentor students or speak to small groups of students during WIN time. The school employs a part-time nurse to address the physical needs of students while on campus. In addition to the school counselor and nurse, ERMS consults with parents and makes referrals for students in need of additional support to local agencies, such as Department of Social Services, Department of Juvenile Justice, and outside counseling services. Mentoring services are also provided by the McNair Educational Foundation mentoring program. Our mentors are local community members who meet with 7th and 8th grade students four times a year. The McNair Educational Foundation provides an annual Connect Tour for 8th Grade students to visit local businesses and learn about the community as partners. They also provide a get REAL week and a college knowledge survey to promote 6-8th grade college and career readiness. Additionally, there is a Reality of Money event that provides 8th grade students with the opportunity to create a budget, learn how to manage money, and support financial literacy with the resources of our local State Employees Credit Union. Additional clubs and organizations help to build the social skills of students at ERMS. These include: Buddy Club (where students assist in the self-contained Exceptional Children’s classroom), Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Student Council, Beta Club, Chorus, Band, Quiz Bowl, Robotics, Battle of the Books, and Athletic Teams.
In addition to rigorous instruction and a comprehensive plan to meet student’s needs, ERMS is devoted to ensuring all students’ equitable access to safe, modern, educational facilities and appropriate learning resources. In fact, this has been a strong focus of Rutherford County Schools for many years. East Rutherford Middle School students have benefited greatly from this focus as they have been fortunate enough to be a part of the Going G.L.O.B.A.L. initiative that provided all 6-12th grade students with access to an individual iPad and a robust infrastructure for wireless communication, as well as a learning management system (Canvas) and modern digital content for delivery of instruction and resources. ERMS strives to provide access to modern, high quality instructional resources, including Khan Academy, SchoolNet, Power Reading Online, Prodigy, Read Theory, Prodigy, NewsELA, CommonLit, and Freckle addition the educators at ERMS are supported by the administration team as well as central office staff. The middle school director and middle school instructional coach provides important information about analyzing data and creates opportunities for educators to learn from others at district level PLCs. The school based instructional technology facilitator and media specialist are also utilized to support teachers as they plan and deliver instruction. Each classroom is also equipped with an interactive Promethean Board for direct instruction, document camera, and Apple TVs. The school also has access to a green screen room and a portable screen where students can create their own digital projects that supports the standards they are learning in the general education classroom. For example, science teachers have used the green screen room to create digital videos on weather. With the various types of technology resources inside the classroom our students have access to learning technical skills and communication skills that will one day employ in college and the workforce. It has also allowed teachers to provide students with access to up-to-date information and interactive and engaging content. The equitable access to technology within the school has allowed all students the opportunity to access programs that foster creativity, global communication, collaboration, skill development, and much more. It has truly revolutionized teaching and learning at East Rutherford Middle School.
In addition to quality teaching and learning tools, a school must provide a safe and inviting environment in order for students to learn. East Rutherford Middle School offers a safe facility for all stakeholders. The entire facility is handicapped accessible. There are cameras throughout the building and a school resource officer on duty each day to ensure safety. The school has keyless entry points for staff, guided admittance by office staff for visitors, and an alarm system tied to the county sheriff’s office. The entire staff participates in safety training each year, with administration and the school resource officer receiving additional, more specialized training as well. All staff members must complete safety videos each year, including videos on blood borne pathogens, slips and falls, and emergency health concerns for students and staff. The school crisis plan is updated yearly and each classroom teacher is provided a copy. ERMS practices monthly fire drills and annual tornado drills, with evacuation routes posted in all classrooms.
While the analysis of East Rutherford Middle School’s instructional and organizational effectiveness revealed many positive strengths of the school, it also identified several limitations or areas for improvement. As is likely the case across many school districts, lack of funding for resources, personnel, and equipment was an apparent limitation in all three areas of analysis. Specifically, the team would like to see more staff development on student engagement, strategies and quality teaching practices for the CORE classrooms, as well MTSS and social/ emotional needs of students. The team also identified a need for an additional teacher assistant to meet the needs of the growing population of students in the exceptional children’s program, as well as the need for the additional staff to help prepare intervention lessons for MTSS. Additional concerns of the team included support for developing and growing teachers in the profession, as well as methods for creating a sense of student accountability for their own learning and performance.
After careful analysis of the school’s effectiveness related to the four transformational strategies, the team has identified several key goals that will result in school wide improvement in instructional effectiveness and student performance. These include:
*Improving classroom instructional practices by focusing on CORE content, standards, and student engagement. *Support teachers by providing instructional support during weekly PLC meetings. *Improve student learning by analyzing MAP data, discipline data from Educators Handbook and student grades in CANVAS to determine who is at risk of scoring a level 1 or level 2 on math and/or reading EOG. *Develop and foster leadership skills among staff and students through the use of PBIS. * Improve academic supports for students who need academic interventions, enrichment or social and emotional support through the MTSS model.