Success in Sight raises achievement in North Carolina high school
When Northeast Guilford High School (NEHS), in McLeansville, North Carolina, was named as one of the state's 64 "turnaround schools" in 2007, it came as a wake-up call to the staff.
The school was operating like many high schools do—department chairs were managers but not instructional leaders, and teachers collaborated little with each other—but the state's requirement that it adopt a reform model forced action.
NEHS Principal Anita Walker chose McREL's Success in Sight as the school's model, and Principal Consultant Sammye Wheeler-Clouse spent the next year leading administrators, coaches, and teacher leaders through its five-step process.
With a focus on building teacher capacity, the staff chose to increase student engagement by implementing Classroom Instruction that Works®(CITW) strategies and supporting one another through professional learning communities (PLCs). Teachers developed a criteria list for how to identify student engagement during classroom observations, a new practice for NEHS staff that has set a high level of expectation and increased cross-departmental awareness of instruction that didn't exist before.
Since McREL began working with NEHS, the school has undergone a huge cultural shift and made enormous strides in shared leadership, building collective efficacy, the use of instructional strategies, and increased capacity to implement and sustain change.
Each year student test scores have increased dramatically. From 2007–2010, 9th- and 10th-grade student proficiency levels indicated a yearly increase between 9 percent in some state-tested courses and 34 percent in others. In 2009, the Guilford County School District named NEHS one of the most improved schools in the district.
A strong focus on effective instruction continues throughout the whole school. The leadership team takes ownership of instruction and student achievement, resulting in staff members supporting each other through peer observations.
After two years of working with McREL, student achievement has increased, and NEHS has built capacity for high-level school improvement sustainablity.
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