Davidson High School is one high school among several in a district of over 50,000 students. Davidson is an alternative high school that enrolls students who, for the most part, have dropped out of other high schools and are on their second or third attempt to complete graduation requirements. Each year, entering enrollment in grades 9-12 is approximately 100 students and dramatically grows among sophomores and juniors in the second half of the year.
Description: An alternative high school within a district with multiple high schools
Project Type: Develop a performance improvement plan with strategies and tactics addressing priorities; prepare a new school leadership team for school improvement responsibilities, anticipate enrollment growth, and establish a standards-based self-assessment program to guide professional growth of the faculty.
Davidson was cited for not meeting the federal and state target graduation rate for Title I schools. However, since the school opened the rate has improved and the trend is positive for meeting future threshold rates. Consequently, the district is considering bringing back students who are similar to those at Davidson from other alternative high schools in other districts. The challenge had two parts: 1) prepare faculty leaders to implement an improvement plan that will improve the graduation rate; and 2) establish school leadership team (SLT) competence and confidence to work with current and expanding numbers of faculty members.
The VitalInsight™ (VI) diagnostic inventory was completed by school stakeholders (faculty, staff, students, parents, district office administrators, and community partners). VI results and data from the required state’s “needs assessment and root cause analysis” and process were used to prepare a three year improvement plan that was the basis for workshops that prepared the SLT for August implementation. LeadershipEnergies representatives prepared and sent to SLT members the agenda and background reading materials for each day of the July workshop.
The performance improvement plan was approved by the Board of Trustees and the State Board of Education. Ownership of the plan was assumed by the SLT and roles and responsibilities for successful implementation and monitoring were developed and instituted. The SLT defined its mission and how it would work with other faculty members to create unified efforts to improve faculty and student performance and increase the graduation rate. Goals, with multiple strategies for each priority, were established and implemented within the first two months of the school year. Progress is monitored biweekly according to the state DOE design. The SLT “kicked-off” tactics to achieve four priorities: 1) Prepare the SLT and the rest of the faculty for the commitment to and actions for implementation of the plan; 2) improve adult learning through professional development with nine topics of adult expertise related to the goals of the plan (topics were prioritized by the year in which they were to be offered); 3) improve student learning through differentiated instruction and with the use of an instructional coach (this goal coincided with that prescribed by the district for every school); and 4) improve home and school cooperation through a parent engagement program. The state has provided a support system for each participating school’s progress. A process of biweekly review and reporting of progress by the school to LeadershipEnergies has begun. Also, the school reports progress to the district and state. LeadershipEnergies makes monthly reports to the state as well.
“We thank VitalInsight™ and LeadershipEnergies for helping us develop a comprehensive map to our destination of school, staff, and student success. Tasks before us are challenging, and yet, we think we are prepared and will prepare others to achieve that success. Every school leadership team and faculty should receive and benefit from the VitalInsight™ LeadershipEnergies treatment.”
—Principal, Davidson High School
*The case study is real and positions of personnel are accurate. Names of districts, schools, and personnel have been changed.