Strategic Plan Initiative
The GCS 2012 Strategic Plan, Achieving Educational Excellence, includes 60 goals, with 21 academic measures and 37 non-academic measures. Since the plan debuted in January of 2009, GCS has launched 82 of 98 strategies (84 percent) outlined in eight core areas. Currently, 65 strategies have been completed; 15 are on track regarding schedules and budgets; two are on track with slight delays; 15 have been placed on hold due to budget constraints; and, one has been placed on hold for reasons unrelated to budget.
The district is now working on the next phase of this plan, and anticipates sharing this with parents and community members in January of 2013.
Promotion of K-12 Literacy
GCS has implemented a balanced literacy plan to increase reading proficiency. Balanced Literacy, as defined by GCS, incorporates reading, writing, word study and speaking and listening across the curriculum through explicit and context-embedded strategies in support of increased comprehension. Reading is taught through three different methods in order to meet individual student needs. These methods include whole group reading, small group reading and self-selected reading.
In addition, formal and informal writing instruction occurs daily. To complement these efforts, GCS challenged students to read one million books in 2010 to raise awareness about the importance of literacy. GCS students exceeded this goal and read 1,973,262 books during the year. GCS then challenged students to read two million books in 2011, and they again exceeded this goal and read 2,616,138 books during the year. The next challenge for students is to read three million books before January, 2013. We also hope to increase community donations of books and other resources to classrooms and volunteer time as reading buddies.
Low-Performing School Strategies
Low-performing schools are those that failed to meet expected growth standards with less than 50 percent of the students scoring at or above achievement Level III. Ten of the district’s schools were identified as low performing in 2009-10 by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (DPI), and one school was identified as low performing in 2010-11. For the 2011-12 school year, none of the district’s schools were designated by DPI as low performing. GCS is committed to improving the achievement of all students and has identified schools that, while not designated low-performing, were among the district’s lowest performing schools for the 2010-11 school year. These Priority One schools are Smith High, Jackson Middle, Hairston Middle, Wiley Elementary, Fairview Elementary, Parkview Elementary, Peck Elementary, Union Hill Elementary, Cone Elementary and Brightwood Elementary. Improvement at each of these schools is a district priority. Plans include specific strategies and wrap-around services provided by staff representing the Student Services, Human Resources, Title I, English as a Second Language, Exceptional Children, Induction and Professional Development, Curriculum and Instruction, Finance, District Relations and Academically Gifted departments.
Guilford Parent Academy
Since its launch in January, 2011, Guilford Parent Academy has reached more than 6,781 parents through workshops, classes and family events. Workshops covered topics such as bullying, planning for college and helping children succeed in school. Family events have been cosponsored with many community groups and include The Healthy Family Celebration at Smith High in April 2011 (attended by 621 parents and family members) and the “Beyond the Bricks” Community Town Hall Event held at North Carolina A&T State University in November 2011 (and attended by more than 400 family and community members). In addition, more than 2,600 people have registered to receive access to the online learning resources provided by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. In 2012, Guilford Parent Academy will increase parent workshops in the areas of literacy and common core curriculum awareness.
STEM High School Options
GCS opened The Middle College at UNCG in August of 2011 and will open The STEM Early College at N.C. A&T in August of 2012. Focused on health sciences, The Middle College at UNCG allows high school students to graduate with up to two years of transferrable college credit and to explore a variety of health careers, including human services as well as medical fields, through a work-study program. Tuition-free early/middle colleges provide extra support for students who may be disengaged or who may struggle to adapt to the traditional high school setting. Moses Cone and High Point Regional health systems have also pledged their support for the program.
The STEM Early College at N.C. A&T will offer a rigorous program for high-achieving students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The 200 students attending the early college will take honors and Advanced Placement (AP) courses in the ninth and 10th grades, and college courses alongside undergraduate college students in grades 11 and 12, thus graduating high school having obtained two years of college credit toward a four-year degree.
Action Greensboro, a non-profit organization and member of the Greensboro Partnership, will coordinate and nurture local and national business relationships to inform and support overall program development for The STEM Early College at N.C. A&T. Currently, Action Greensboro is seeking funds and is more than three-fourths of the way toward the $1 million goal for start-up costs during the early college’s first four years of operation.Additionally, Action Greensboro will build relationships with local companies in STEM-related industries to offer internships, site visits, mentoring, and opportunities for curriculum enhancement .The Middle College at UNCG and The STEM Early College at N.C. A&T bring the total number of early/middle colleges in Guilford County to nine, extending the district’s national leadership in this area while expanding school choice for GCS students.
African American Male Focus
In March 2011, GCS initiated an Achieving Educational Excellence for African American Male Students project team to review achievement trends of African American males and the barriers that prevent them from achieving academic excellence. Focused on examining new strategies to close achievement gaps, the project team is comprised of diverse GCS staff members and community members, whose work and positions are key to the success of this initiative. The project team has developed two sub-committees in the areas of early literacy and disproportionality in discipline.
The sub-committees are currently working to develop intervention plans and strategies to pilot in a small number of GCS schools beginning in 2012-13 and continuing for three years. The data collected from the pilot initiatives will be used to plan district-wide interventions to better support African-American males. In addition to the work being done by the GCS project team, in the fall of 2011 the United Way and Communities-in-Schools of Greater Greensboro launched the African-American Male Initiative, which is a research based male mentoring initiative at Wiley Elementary. The Initiative provides funding for three years for a full-time site-coordinator to recruit and train mentors for more than 50 African-American and Hispanic boys in second through fifth grades and to conduct an annual program evaluation.
Two New Surveys Measure Performance
In 2011, two new surveys were launched to secure baseline data for strategic plan measures. First, the GCS Employee Climate survey was created and launched by a diverse project committee. The survey is aligned with some of the strategic plan's non-academic goal measures, including improving employee perception of GCS students, parents and families and increasing the percentage of employees who consider GCS a "preferred place" to work.
Results showed that there was a 31 percent completion rate among district employees. Approximately 90.75 percent of survey participants have a positive perception of students, about 80.5 percent of survey participants view their school, department or division as a preferred place to work, and 78 percent of survey participants believe that GCS parents have high expectations for their children. Just more than 80 percent of employees feel good about working at GCS, about 79 percent think the district is headed in the right direction, and 78 percent have confidence in their supervisors.
The survey results suggest the district still has some work to do in several areas, many of which have been impacted negatively by budget cuts and constraints. About 68 percent of those surveyed feel the facility where they work is well-maintained, about 67 percent feel appreciated for the work they do, about 54 percent feel that meeting the needs of employees is a top priority and about 50 percent feel they are informed about how to achieve promotions within the district.
In January 2012, GCS also launched two student safety perception surveys for all students in grades 4, 7, 9 and 11. These surveys assess our students’ perception of safety in our schools and give insight into other areas like character development and the use of technology. Students in grades 7, 9 and 11 participated in the Student Learning Conditions Survey (SLCS), which was developed by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. Fourth-graders participated in a student perception survey developed by MarketWise. Results thus far indicate that 15,046 GCS students in grades 4, 7, 9 and 11 completed the survey, resulting in a district participation rate of 67 percent. GCS will receive final survey results in May.
Service-Learning Diploma Debut
This year, GCS will award service learning cords and diploma recognitions for eligible students. Beginning in the 2010-2011 school year, students who completed more than 100 hours of service-learning activities and/or community service were eligible to receive the Exemplary Service-Learning Award. Starting at the beginning of the 2011-12 school year, students who complete 175 hours of service-learning activities and/or community service will be eligible to earn a Service-Learning Diploma. Students who complete the requirements will receive a special diploma and will be distinguished by wearing a district-provided service cord at their high school graduations.
Strategic Plan 2016 Process
The next steps for our strategic plan include launching the final 21 strategies from 2011 and reporting progress on goals at the superintendent’s annual State of Our Schools address in January, 2013. A cross-functional, cross-departmental project team lead by Nora Carr, chief of staff, is being developed to engage Board members, GCS staff, parents and community members in the development of our 2016 strategic plan, which will debut during the superintendent’s annual State of Our Schools address in January, 2013. This work will proceed in four phases:
Phase I: Research (March-July, 2012)
During this phase, the project team will collect, review and analyze data from multiple sources from GCS, our community, Strategic Plan 2012 data reports and other data. These data include, but are not limited to, Broad Diagnostic Audit and Employee Working Condition Survey results.
Phase II: Action Planning (July-September, 2012)
During this phase, the project team will provide training for project team members and sub-committees and develop goals and measures for each focus area.
Phase III: Pre-Launch Preparations (October, 2012-January, 2013)
During this phase, the project team will finalize written plan drafts, determine approval processes and prepare to launch the plan.
Phase IV: Launch Strategic Plan (January-December, 2013)
During this phase, the project team will launch Strategic Plan 2016 at the annual State of Schools event in January, 2013, launch strategies and new project teams as warranted and focus on the plan throughout the year at various levels internally and externally.