A Good School Becomes a Great School Through MMGW
South Carolina’s White Knoll Middle School (WKMS), a suburban school, joined the network in 2005 and has made substantial gains in student achievement over the past three years. On the 2008 Middle Grades Assessment (MGA), reading scores remained stable, but the percentages of students scoring at the Proficient and Advanced levels rose from 32 percent to 41 percent.
Greater gains were made in mathematics from 2006 to 2008. The average math score jumped from 164 to 172, and the percentage of students taking Algebra I rose from 22 percent to 42 percent at the same time. Science scores also increased overall from 162 to 165.
The leadership at White Knoll supports the mission of getting all students ready for rigorous high school courses. School leaders have worked together to raise the level of rigor in assignments and assessments and also increase expectations of all students. WKMS was the first middle grades school in South Carolina to implement a “Failure is not an option” grading policy. They began with a small number of teachers who had attended the HSTW Staff Development Conference, and after a full-day workshop the following year, they implemented the strategy throughout the school. They continue to see benefits in having students redo work, retake tests and complete assignments to high levels.
WKMS staff members use a variety of data to analyze problems and improve instruction. They seek specific staff development opportunities that support the areas of need. Concentrating on a few important areas and working to get them right has moved a good school forward to becoming a great school in the MMGW network.