Ryan Scott Ottney
PDT Staff Writer
The Ohio Department of Education has named 141 Schools of Promise — including four in Scioto County — and 37 High Performing Schools of Honor for the 2012-13 school year for sustaining high academic achievement among their students, including many from economically disadvantaged homes. Northwest, Clay and Valley high schools in Scioto County, and New Boston’s Stanton Elementary, were each found on the list of Schools of Promise.
The Schools of Promise award program recognizes schools attaining solid student achievement in reading and mathematics while serving a significant number of economically disadvantaged students. As an incentive to help close achievement gaps in Ohio, the Ohio Department of Education developed the Schools of Promise program to identify, recognize and highlight schools that are making substantial progress in ensuring high achievement for all students.
Schools of Promise must have a 75 percent or better average proficiency rate on the Ohio Achievement Assessments (OAA) and the Ohio Graduation Tests for the 2012-13 school year. They must also have a 75 percent proficiency rate in two subgroups; an A or B grade for their annual measurable objective for narrowing performance gaps between groups of students on the local school report card; an A, B, or C progress grade on the local school report card; and a graduation rate of A or B. The schools must also serve 40 percent of more economically disadvantage students.
This is the fourth non-consecutive year that Valley and Northwest high schools have made the list; the second year for Clay High School, and the first year for Stanton Elementary in New Boston.
“Schools of Promise and the prestigious High Performing Schools of Honor are examples of what can happen when principals, teachers, parents and community members all believe that children can learn,” said Dr. Richard A. Ross, superintendent of public instruction. “These schools overcome challenges, sometimes significant challenges, to provide a high-quality education to Ohio children. What they have done is working and I am urging them to help other Ohio schools learn how they can overcome their challenges as well.”
Northwest Superintendent Todd Jenkins said the school also made the state’s list for their 2009-10 and 2010-11 school years, but fell off last year (2011-12). He said he was pleased to be back on the list this year.
“It’s great for us. It’s great for our students and our staff. They’ve worked hard — the principal and the assistant principal. They’ve really been pushing the kids and the staff. And we’ve got two great guidance counselors and they’ve worked in changing the curriculum and making it more rigorous, and the staff is pushing to make those changes,” Jenkins said.
He said the high school focuses on their ACT scores and advanced placement classes, and uses programs such as the Mohawk Card to give students incentives to succeed for a chance to win prizes at the end of the year. Because of that, he said, the district is the largest contributor of students to Shawnee State University, in Portsmouth.
New Boston Superintendent Mike Staggs gave all of the credit to the elementary teachers and Principal Diane Chamberlin, and said the pre-school program at New Boston is giving students the foundations they need to succeed in elementary school.
“We stress the fundamentals early. The OAA is only done in the third grade and up, and I think a lot of our success is based on what the kids have had in the past. The primary focus, in the last six years, has been the preschool, and I think we’re seeing the benefits of getting our students early and providing the basics for them to be able to do well on these tests,” Staggs said. “That first look at testing, we’re very successful because we’re had those kids instead of three years, by the third grade we’ve had them for five years.”
Last month, New Boston’s preschool program was given an additional $32,000 from the state of Ohio to expand its preschool enrollment with eight more students.
Clay Superintendent Tony Mantell said the high school being named a School of Promise is about more than preparing students for academics; it’s about making them decent, well-rounded citizens.
“It does mean that we are doing well academically, but it also means that we’re doing well with the other intangible things that Schools of Promise do,” Mantell said. “Schools of Promise have to have at least 40 percent economically disadvantaged students; well, if you look, we’re well above 60 percent. And in these difficult economic times there are a lot of families that have been distressed by that, but I think that School of Promise, including Clay, have still focused on helping those children get beyond the difficulties that many families face, and still help them to do well academically.”
When asked about Valley’s placement on the list, Superintendent Carl McCrory echoed a quote by Michael Jordan — “Limits, like fear, is often illusion.” — and said the school’s focus last year was to dissolve the stumbling blocks of perception.
“Many times in education, we focus on policy, procedures and mandates and lose focus about helping kids believe in themselves and giving them the skills they need to be successful. Success demands a singleness of purpose and the purpose should always be putting kids first in all we do. I know our staff worked hard in addressing this gap in achievement and our students were the beneficiaries,” McCrory said.
A complete list of the Ohio Department of Education’s 2012-13 Schools of Promise is available online at http://education.ohio.gov.
Ryan Scott Ottney may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 287, or firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Ryan on Twitter @PDTwriter.