Structure, systems, and support can go a long way towards school improvement. Not only in an individual school but in an entire district as well. Here at Greenville County School District in South Carolina, there are close to 100 schools counting elementary through high school. The district is the largest in the state and the 44th largest in the U.S. Despite the size, schools collaborate with one another and support “rival” schools towards success. With so many resources, it is not surprising to hear success stories from their ranks.
Success at Woodmont High School
Woodmont High School is one of fifteen high schools in the district. Structure, systems, and purposeful support have contributed to significant growth in multiple domains, most notably moving from eleventh in graduation rate to first in less than five years. Standardized tests scores are finally climbing towards the top, and the advanced studies programs are thriving. All this despite having more than half the school population living in poverty.
The structure behind the current framework includes rewriting job descriptions and getting innovative with employee allocations and baseline flexibility. Putting the right people in the right places with the right expectations is paying off. Traditionally, only one instructional coach was allocated per school. With a little creativity, Woodmont now has four. This is just one example. Reviewing all allocations and ensuring they have appropriate job descriptions that truly pursue school objectives makes complete sense but is often overlooked.
The systems towards increasing graduation rate start in the ninth grade. Just like a teacher should know who is at risk of not passing early in a semester, schools should know who is in jeopardy of not graduating early in the ninth grade. Find them, support them, and create their path towards graduation that includes more than remediation.
Purposeful support is not just for students. To improve student achievement, schools must also improve the quality of instruction. There are more ways to accomplish this than professional development. Purposeful teacher support includes recognizing the academic content diversity in a school and identifying all opportunities to take advantage of teacher improvement.
Woodmont High School was named a Model School by ICLE for 2022, and will present their success story at the 30th annual Model Schools Conference, June 26–29, 2022 at the Swan & Dolphin Resort at Walt Disney World in Orlando. View all 2022 Model Schools, Innovative Districts and Epic Educators and learn more about the conference at this link.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of HMH.
Zoe Del Mar