North Carolina Educators Nationally Recognized for School Reform Efforts
The hard work and dedication of educators and school leaders at Oak Hill Elementary School in High Point, N.C. received much-deserved recognition for its school reform efforts.
Closing its achievement gaps between students by significant margins has earned Oak Hill North Carolina’s Title I School of the Year award by the state’s Title I Distinguished Schools Recognition program. This honor comes with a $32,500 award and national recognition at a conference in Nashville, Tenn.
Educators shared with conference goers the growth Oak Hill has experienced in the areas of data-based instruction, standards-based planning, school culture, and areas in need of continued growth.
Over the past two years, Oak Hill has raised its composite score by nearly 25 percent. The composite number is determined by combining the results from third- fourth- and fifth-grade reading and math exams, plus fifth-grade science.
In math, Oak Hill increased its percentage points from 55 to 86; in reading that number jumped from 33 to nearly 50; and the science score escalated to 85 percentage points, surpassing the state average by ten points.
This accomplishment is no small feat for a school that was identified as one of the lowest-performing schools in the state just two years ago.
Student data was an important factor in improving the school’s academic performance. Using data in a more meaningful way allowed educators and staff to identify what was working for students and what wasn’t.
Stacy Brady, third-grade teacher at Oak Hill, was one of four presenters at this year’s conference. According to Brady, the use of data tells her everything she needs to know about her students. She says that having access to data on a regular basis lets her be reflective of her practice, allowing her to continually improve instruction and better serve students.
“I use data for absolutely everything. Our frequent use of common assessments allow us to have constant data, telling us our strengths and weaknesses as teachers and giving us insight as to where our students are on the learning spectrum,” said Brady. “It is amazing what a difference data has made in my life as a teacher.”
But there’s more to school transformation than just statistical data. Community engagement was the impetus. The support from community clubs, churches, local businesses, and most of all, the increased support from the parents contributed to Oak Hill’s success.
“Parents are in integral part of a child’s education. I have no doubt in my mind that the increase in parent involvement has been one of the many reasons for the improvements at our school,” explained Brady. “I remember the first thing we did as a new staff was walk through the neighborhoods of our students, going door to door, welcoming families back to school. This sparked the change that was needed.”
Specific programs were put in place to empower parents to take more of an active role in their child’s academic success. Brady said, “We have developed these relationships with parents because we all have the same goal in mind, which is to see children be academically successful.”
Brady concluded: “I have taught third grade in the same classroom the past four years and my parent conference attendance is at an all-time high. We do not let transportation, language, or any other barriers stop us from communicating with our parents and that is what has made our parent involvement increase.”
Oak Hill has improved student performance, decreased disciplinary referrals, and strengthened community support – a winning combination that has transformed Oak Hill into a place of pride.