SCHOOL SYSTEM RECOGNIZED FOR EXCELLENCE IN EDUCATION
Three service learning projects for environmental study at Isaac Dickson Elementary School have been interwoven in a way that engaged students in outdoor, hands-on learning. These service projects were a mechanism for excellent academic growth for the students enrolled at Dickson. The three projects were: (1) Gardening/Science Club, (2) Mountain Area Gardens in Community (MAGIC), and (3) the reestablishment of an abandoned Nature Trail situated at the rear of the school property.
Habitat study sites now sit along the nature trail developed by teachers and students.
Students can be seen working with the garden coordinator or garden educator in one of the eight gardens that surround the school building. The bounty of the gardens is taken to the student kitchen to allow further study of healthy food. When available, lettuce and peppers are shared with The Mission on Patton Avenue in order to enhance the quality of their salad bar. After their service, engaged learners reflect and demonstrate their knowledge through assessment.
Isaac Dickson is a small, urban school situated one-half mile from downtown Asheville. Many students who attend Dickson live in inner city housing projects and have little or no exposure to environmental education other than at school. Providing work in the gardens and on the trail has engaged students in service to their school and their community. By providing a sound academic foundation to the preparation stage of service learning with a follow-up assessment that mirrors the NC End-of-Grade and the Writing Assessment, academic growth in reading, math and writing took a leap during the 1998-99 school year for Dickson. Reading scores increased 9%, math increased 5% and writing increased 10%. Overall, the school made exemplary growth with 9.1 points above expected growth. Test data clearly show that service leaning, project based teaching can address North Carolina's Standard Course of Study and students can show academic growth with student choice and active, hands-on learning.
Superintendent: Karen H. Campbell
School Board Chair: Susan C. Fisher
Contact Person: Vicki B. Dineen
An Alternative Instructional Strategy
for Raising Student Performance
In 1991-92 The Burke County Board of Education took the initiative to find an alternative instructional strategy that would improve student performance and the delivery of instruction. The Board reviewed research from two national studies that linked the performance of children to classroom size. The Indiana Prime Study and the Tennessee STAR research showed that reduced class sizes in grades one, two, and three promoted greater student performance, higher self-esteem, and greater parent involvement in their child's educational process. The Burke County Board of Education directed the administration to implement the program in the first grades of four pilot schools. The positive impact on student performance by the conclusion of the first year led the Board and administration to implement the program in second and third grades. Parents took such an active interest in the learning process of their children, and were so impressed with the impact the change had made on their children that they became very vocal to the Board of Education and the County Commissioners about the continuation of the program. In 1995 the program was removed from the pilot status and implemented in the first through third grades of all fourteen elementary schools. Burke County was the first school system in North Carolina to implement this educational strategy. The Board of Education made the program its number one priority in the budget. Recurring expenses included additional teachers to create a teacher/pupil ratio of 1:15 and installation of modular units to provide the extra space. To change the method of instructional delivery, the system contracted with Appalachian State University to retrain teachers to teach reading. In addition to the reading courses provided for teachers, the system hired two Literacy Specialists to give follow-up classroom support. Concentration was then focused on teaching principals to become instructional leaders rather than administrators. End-of-Grade scores from 1992-93 through 1998-1999 show a steady rise in both the student performance and rate of proficiency in reading and math. End-of-Grade scores also show that the first group of pilot students who are now in the eighth grade continue to out perform their peers who were not in the pilot group. For Burke County, reduced class size and changing teaching techniques have made a tremendous difference in student performance and proficiency rank.
Superintendent: Tony M. Stewart
School Board Chair: Walter R. Johnson
Contact Person: Marilyn Gordon
The Gateway Alternative School
The Gateway School was born out of community insistence that something be done to reduce the dropout rate after Caldwell County Schools experienced the worst rate in the state in 1992-93. In fact, the system was 35% higher than any other school system. In February 1994, the Caldwell County Board of Commissioners appointed an Intervention/Prevention Task Force of thirty community leaders, educators, parents and students to find solutions to the county's high dropout rate, high number of juvenile arrests, and serious safety issues. Out of this effort, the Gateway School was born with a special focus on students who would be on long term suspension or were having great difficulty in a regular high school setting.
Today, Gateway's students exhibit self-worth, cooperative spirit, responsibility, self-reliance and commitment to success. For example, exemplary growth was achieved on the State ABCs test results in Algebra I and English I and expected growth in English II and US History. Of the 177 students enrolled in 1998-99, seventy-five were able to return to their home school and forty-four are still finding success at Gateway. In other words, 69% of the students were able to turn their life around. Without this intervention, 100% of these students would probably have been dropouts. Countywide, the dropout rate has been reduced from 7.55% to 3.46%, much below the state average.
The school's success is a credit to great community support via college scholarships for all who graduate, free breakfast program, special events, and special community meals.
Superintendent: Tom McNeel
School Board Chair: Sharon S. Pennell
Contact Person: William S. Stone
Telephone: 828.728.8407 ext. 113
K-3 Literacy Initiative
During the 1995-96 school year, Durham Public Schools (DPS) educators discovered that the percentage of third-graders reading at or above grade level had been lower than that for any other grade, for at least five years. Yet third grade is a turning point in the learning process, as comprehension becomes the focus and continues to be through high school.
From these findings the K-3 Literacy Initiative was born, with the ultimate goal of at least 95% of DPS students reading at or above grade level by the end of the third grade.
Within this overarching goal, the following six objectives were devised:
- Align curriculum with instruction and assessment.
- Develop and implement the K-2 Assessment Portfolio.
- Fully implement Reading Recovery in every elementary school.
- Fully implement a balanced literacy framework.
- Develop and utilize School Success Plan.
- Appoint district-wide literacy council.
The most recent K-2 Assessment was performed at the end of the 1998-99 school year, and the results are staggering. From fall 1998 to spring 1999, the percentage of second-grade students (those who began kindergarten the year this initiative began), leapt from 72 to 89%. Nearly nine in 10 of the 1999-2000 third-graders are reading at or above grade level, according to this assessment. Last year's first-graders showed a 12-point jump, from 69 to 81%.
With these astounding results, we feel confident that our goal of at least 95% of all third-graders reading at or above grade level will be realized within the next four years.
Superintendent: Ann T. Denlinger
School Board Chair: Kathryn Meyers
Contact Person: Bert L'Homme
Prep for Success
The Granville County Schools' Prep for Success (PFS) program has been in existence for five years. Since implementation, SAT scores for the system have increased dramatically. Gains for African-American students have been particularly impressive. PFS is a comprehensive SAT preparation program offered at both the system's high schools ( J.F. Webb and South Granville). Cognizant that preparation for the SAT requires a long-term student, staff and community commitment and that it must address a number of diverse issues, the PFS program is a multi-faceted approach serving students in grades 9-12 across all curriculum areas. From its inception, the goals of the program have been:
- to increase the system's SAT average score to the state average
- to increase the participation rate for all students by 10%
- to increase the percentage of graduates pursuing a post-secondary education
- to narrow the performance gap between white and black students
- to increase the scholarship opportunities for Granville County graduates.
The program has four major components-l) expanded guidance services, 2) SAT preparation in the classroom, 3) SAT preparation outside the classroom, and 4) increased parental awareness.
The results of the program have been dramatic. The average combined SAT scores for graduating seniors has increased seventy-six points, with the participation rate increasing by 15%. The performance gap between African-American students and white students has been narrowed to only 80 points compared to 179 for the nation and 194 for North Carolina. In 1994, Granville County seniors were offered $723,000 in scholarships. In 1999, that figure increased to over $1,093,000.
Superintendent: Janice O. Davis
School Board Chair: Leonard E. Peace
Contact Person: Jan Allen
Onslow JobReady Partnerships
The Onslow JobReady Partnership was established in 1995 for the purpose of: (1) expanding business, industry, and community involvement with the Onslow County school system and Coastal Carolina Community College; (2) contributing to the development of comprehensive educational options (career pathways) which connect all students (grade K-Postsecondary) with the world-of-work; and promoting the growth and development of the NC JobReady/School-to-Work system within Onslow County. The Onslow JobReady Partnership is organized through the Greater Jacksonville/Onslow Chamber of Commerce and serves three connected groups of stakeholders; (1) educational stakeholders; (2) parent and student stakeholders, and (3) business/industry & community stakeholders.
Established objectives and outcomes for the Onslow JobReady Partnership are: (1) to ensure that all Onslow County students have access to age appropriate career development activities and information based on their personal knowledge of their interest, aptitudes, and abilities: (2) to ensure that all students within the Onslow County School System (grades K-12) offer fully integrated curricula that promote high student performance standards, quality students for further education and training; and (3) to ensure that all Onslow County business/industry and civic/community members become equal partners with educators and parents in helping all students achieve positive transitions from school to successful careers and lifelong learning.
Since 1995-96 business/industry and civic/community partnerships have been expanded, energized, and refocused toward support of a K-Postsecondary School-to-Work system assigned to serve all students. The Onslow County JobReady Partnership has been able to expand and promote School-to-Work as well as accelerate the development of age appropriate School-Based, Work-Based, and related Connecting Activities for all students K-Postsecondary. Although the Onslow JobReady Partnership is in its fourth year of implementation the feedback from stakeholders has been overwhelmingly positive. Accomplishments include: (1) annual participation of over 3,500 students (grades 4-8) in JobReady communication skill activities (2) annual participation of over 1,125 students (grades 6-8) in JobReady Car Shadowing activities; (3) annual participation of over 345 students (grades 11-12) in semester-length JobReady internships; (4) over $150,000 in Vocational, Technical, and JobReady scholarships provided annually to Onslow County graduates; and (5) over $620,000 in curricula support and 25,000 volunteer mentor hours were provided in 1998-99 to the school system through a business/industry support program called BASES (Businesses Assisting School sin Educating Students). The long-term goal of the Onslow JobReady/School-to-Work Partnership is to sustain and advance a system of educational, guidance, and training opportunities that provide all students with equal access into pathways for career success.
Superintendent: Ronald B. Singletary
School Board Chair: Robert B. Gaskins
Contact Person: Don Herring
The Summer Kindergarten Academy provides a one-month summer program for students entering kindergarten who have had limited group interaction and learning experiences. During the last two summers (1998-99), 102 students were involved in a child-centered literacy-focused environment to provide experiences to promote the successful transition into school. The objectives of the program are not only to "jump start" the child's social and cognitive readiness for the school experience, but to include families as partners of schools to make learning happen. Families participated in a wide range of parent involvement activities to build positive school-home relationships.
The daily schedule and instructional strategies emphasize active involvement, small group interaction with a focus on literacy and oral language development. This project was the result of a collaborative community effort to focus on the unmet needs of the system's youngest learner, and emphasize the continued need for quality preschool experiences to ensure success in school. Evaluation data on student growth and parent satisfaction was positive beyond expectations.
Superintendent: Randy Bridges
School Board Chair: Delores Simpson
Contact Person: Jean Bernholz
Parent Resource Center
Rockingham County Schools' Parent Resource Center provides a unique bridge from the school system to the members of the community. The center opened on October 22, 1998. Located in the Eden Mall, the Parent Resource Center is available to all families of Rockingham County. This unique setting imposes no threat to parents who may have had less than positive school experiences. In the first year of operation, the center has been visited and utilized by over 1,500 family members in Rockingham County. The center is a lending library that offers workshops, developmentally appropriate materials and one-to-one consultation to teach and assist parents in helping their children. The center's library consists of over 2,600 items, which includes books, games, puzzles, and manipulative kits. Based on results from a countywide Title 1 survey of parents, workshops are planned and conducted by teachers who volunteer their time after school. Teachers refer families to the center using a recommendation card on which the child's teacher lists goals that the student needs additional resources in order to accomplish. A copy of the recommendation card is returned to the teacher by the center's staff after the parent visits the center. This informs the teacher of the visit and the resources made available to the family. Parents are also referred to the center by mall merchants, Morehead Hospital, Head Start, and other parents. Many parents that visit the center are independent referrals seeking help on their own. Currently there are 260 parents enrolled as members of the resource center. Awareness of the Parent Center is promoted through community outreach projects like Tots-N-Training, which is a monthly take-home program for parents of 2-5 year olds. Teachers volunteer to distribute the Tots-N-Training packets that include a picture book, newsletter with articles promoting parent/child interaction, and a "prize" for the child that supports one of the learning activities in the newsletter. The distributions are held in Winn-Dixie and K-Mart in opposite sides of the county. This outreach program ends each year with our Ready, Set, Go Festival of Learning for Parents of children ages 2-7 that is held throughout the Eden Mall. The county residents are also made aware of the center through brochures and publicity of upcoming events through newspaper inserts provided by the Rockingham County Schools public relations office, flyers and brochures sent home with every student, and individual school newsletters. Another support service for students located at the Parent Center is the Homework Assistance Line. Two certified teachers provide help with homework by telephone Mon.-Thurs. From 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM October-May. Parents and students may call for assistance or come to the center for help during this time. It is through each of these efforts that we address the priority of helping parents and the community be informed participants in the education of the children in Rockingham County and support high achievement for all students.
Superintendent: George R. Fleetwood
School Board Chair: Jeff Eanes
Contact Person: Sandy Morrison
Integrated Technology Program
Wilson County Schools' Integrated Technology Program is designed to provide students with the skills and knowledge to help them to be successful in an ever-changing, technological society. Specific objectives are to (1) improve student achievement, (2) increase the technological knowledge and skills of staff members and students, and (3) increase the utilization and integration of technology to support instruction.
Components of the Integrated Technology Program include staff development for all staff members, technology teams, changes in the vocational curriculum, integration of technology with other subject areas, utilization of software in developing local instructional materials, and preventive maintenance of equipment. The program emphasizes the need for the acquisition and utilization of technological skills and knowledge by staff members and by students.
The effective integration of technology with other subject areas has contributed to increased student achievement in Wilson County Schools. In 1998-99, ninety percent of the eighth grade students passed the performance component of the NC Computer Skills Test. Also, according to state criteria including scores on NC End-of-Grade/Course Tests, 86% of the schools in Wilson County achieved exemplary status. As the Integrated Technology Program continues to evolve, its impact on student achievement is expected to continue to increase.
Superintendent: Larry E. Price
School Board Chair: Robert L. Vick
Contact Person: Terry Goff and Rachel G. Cozart
About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 126 charter schools serving over 1.5 million students in kindergarten through high school graduation. The agency is responsible for all aspects of the state's public school system and works under the direction of the North Carolina State Board of Education.
For more information:
NCDPI Communication and Information Division, 919.807.3450.