Technical Assistance Visit Report
Midland High School
April 7-9, 2008
This report presents findings of a High Schools That Work (HSTW) Technical Assistance
team visit to Midland High School (MHS) in Midland, Texas, USA, on April 7-9, 2008. It
describes goals for continued growth while detailing promising practices currently in place,
next steps planned by the school and evidence for a need to continue efforts to address each
goal. It also suggests action steps to meet each goal. The report reflects the limitations of a
one day on-site study by the team to comprehend the many efforts under way to improve the
academic preparation of students.
The Technical Assistance Visit team observed the impact of several promising practices
taking place at Midland High School (MHS). The principal and her staff are working to
create a culture of continuous improvement. However, much work remains to move
Midland High School (MHS) as faculty and staff members strive to prepare students for
life after graduation and to meet state and HSTW expectations of preparing every student
for college and careers.
The technical assistance team determined a set of goals that gives MHS a framework that
emphasizes to students that, with effort, they can achieve at levels that will result in
postsecondary success. The team observed promising practices that teachers should build
upon, hear about planned next steps and determined a set of challenges that all faculty
should work together to address. The team has also identified several recommended
actions the school can take to achieve each goal. MHS faculty members should analyze this
report to revise the school’s improvement plan to align with these goals and to change
school and classroom practices. Specific challenges facing leaders and teachers at MHS
Technical Review Visit Team
Michelle Savage John Gray Janet Larkin
TAV Team Leader Science Teacher ELA Teacher
SREB/HSTW Midland Freshmen HS Akins High
San Antonio, Texas Midland, Texas Austin ISD
Southern Elise Kail Lisa Morris Henry Perez
Principal Math Teacher Social StudiesTeacher
Regional Midland Freshmen HS Midland Freshmen HS Bel Air High School
Education Midland, Texas Midland, Texas Ysleta ISD
Board Cherilyn Amburn Michelle Reyes Shawn Mena
Social Studies Teacher ELA Teacher Counselor
Midland Freshmen HS Midland Freshmen HS Bel Air High School
592 10th St., N.W. Midland, Texas Midland, Texas Ysleta ISD
Atlanta, GA 30318
(404) 875-9211 Mark LaCroix Norma Moon
Social Studies Teacher Principal
www.sreb.org Midland Freshman HS STARS High School
Midland, Texas Waco ISD
Provide rigorous, engaging instruction through student-entered approaches. Create a literacy
across the curriculum focus that gets every teacher to use literacy strategies for students to learn their
content. Make improving instruction a focus of all conversations throughout the school. Have
teachers observe effective teachers teach. Narrow the focus on improving instruction to one or two
most effective instructional strategies and make them a focus in all aspects of the school.
Create an atmosphere of raised expectations across the school and increase the rigor of all
academic courses that teach the essential concepts of a college preparatory curriculum.
Encourage all students to take more advanced classes by developing a default curriculum that
automatically enrolls them in higher level classes. Teach advanced labeled courses to the rigor
required for the college preparatory level. Increase the use of common course syllabi, rubrics and
student work to provide students with clear expectations for success. Consider policies that require the
use of higher-level questioning on all assessments and develop procedures that require students to
demonstrate mastery or have to redo work.
Increase access to quality career/technical (C/T) programs to meet the benchmarks of the state,
national and industry standards. Begin to create a coherent sequence of programs of study that lead
to industry certifications for each C/T area. Increase access to high-quality C/T programs that provide a
value-added on TAKS by imbedding academics into CTE programs. Continue to seek arrangements
with local businesses for work-based learning experiences and internships.
Develop a guidance/advisement system that actively involves parents, teachers and students in
guidance and advisement. Continue to develop your adviser-advisee program by focusing on three
goals: connect every student to an adult, connect every student to a goal beyond high school and
connect parents in a meaningful way to the school. Schedule time each year for parents to meet with
their child and adviser to plan and update the course of study
Strengthen transition from ninth to tenth grade and address the transition from high school to
postsecondary studies by strengthening the senior year. Improve the relationship through constant
communication between the ninth grade center and the high school. Integrate AVID study skills,
literacy skills and other Habits of Success into lesson plans to give students the skills needed for
success. Ensure every senior has an academic and career goal, require seniors to take a challenging
academic load and develop a senior project requirement.
Midland is home to most Midland High School, the oldest of two high schools in Midland Independent
School District. The grades ten through 12 school serves almost 2100 students with 43.6 percent
Hispanic, 46.1 percent White, 8.9 percent African American and 0.7 percent other ethnicities. Fifty-
two percent of the students are identified as at-risk. Two hundred fifty students or 12.2 percent are
identified gifted and talented and one hundred eighty-nine students or 9.2 percent receive special
education services. Forty-seven percent of the students are enrolled in C/T courses. The school
operates on a seven period daily schedule.
One hundred eighteen full-time teachers, four guidance counselors, four Assistant Principals, an
Academic Dean and Principal have worked together to improve the school culture. This is the
principal’s fourth year at MHS. One challenge identified by the principal and faculty is attendance.
Currently, as the oil industry continues to flourish, unskilled laborers can earn thirty dollars an hour
and the lure of such opportunities pulls on many students. Students see little reason to stay in school to
earn a diploma. Table 1 compares the attendance and graduation rates for MHS with Midland ISD and
Table 1: Midland HS Graduation, Dropout and Attendance Data
2007 % 2006 % 2005 %
School Attendance Rate 92.3 92.4 93.2
District Attendance Rate 94.6 94.7 94.9
State Attendance Rate 95.5 95.7 95.7
School Graduation Rate 83.5 89.8 89.2
District Graduation Rate 78.9 83.7 83.7
State Graduation Rate 80.4 84.0 84.6
Source: Midland ISD Report Card
Midland ISD has a partnership with Midland College at the Advanced Technology Center (ATC) to
enhance the limited career technical offerings at the high school campuses (Business Education Career
Preparation I & II, Business Computer Information Systems I & II, Architectural Graphics, Computer
Multimedia and Animation Technology, Computer Science I, II & III, Auto Tech I & II, Welding
Technology I & II, and Health Science Technology I, II & Health Science Technology III –
Emergency Medical Technician Preparation). Agriculture, Marketing Ed Prep, Family & Consumer
Science courses, Intro to Business and Business Law, Textiles and Apparel Design, Ready, Set, Teach
and Work-Study Program, Pre-Employment Lab Courses. Only Cosmetology, Building Trades,
Introduction to Construction, and Small Engine Repair labs are located on the MHS campus.
The visiting team was impressed that the students (and staff) are active in regional, state, national and
international organizations. Like, Robert E. Lee HS, several student groups have traveled
internationally representing the school.
As required by the state of Texas, MHS offers three levels of diplomas: minimum, recommended and
distinguished achievement. Recommended and the Distinguished Diploma (DAP) each require 26
credits, but the distinguished diploma requires four of five advanced measures. Only 72.6 percent of the
2006 graduating class earned a recommended or distinguished diploma.
Students may participate in a variety of extra-curricular activities: Band and Choir, National Honor
Society, Languages Other Than English Clubs, Student Council, the Thespian Society, ROTC etc.
MHS proudly supports their athletes in football, volleyball, cross country, cheerleading, basketball,
softball, baseball, tennis, golf, swimming, and track/field.
MHS received a rating of academically acceptable by the TEA for Adequate Yearly Progress, although
MHS missed AYP for Math Performance. Preliminary scores for the Texas Assessment of Knowledge
and Skills (TAKS) show a thirty-two to forty percent gap (see Table 3) between the African American
and Hispanic subgroups with Whites in both mathematics and science exams at the tenth and exit level.
The team saw great promise amongst concerns for the school. The comments of one faculty member,
during interviews summarized the overarching attitude that the team felt was prominent in the school.
―What we work with and what Lee High school works with are night and day—we have to work a lot
harder with no magic bullets. They either have it or they don’t.‖
The technical assistance (TA) visit team noted several efforts to set high expectations for student
achievement and to provide students support with extra help. The principal and leadership team
have taken steps to raise expectations and to focus conversations on expectations. Administrators and
department chairs meet regularly. Department chairs then communicate decisions and data to their
One example observed by team members of raised expectations was in a science course. The course
utilizes UT Online college text as its foundation for the course, thereby making the course truly a
The Academic Dean reported that students are able to earn up to thirty hours of dual credit. Due to a
partnership with Midland College, Midland ISD teachers qualified to teach at the college are able to
teach the concurrent courses on Midland High School’s campus.
Teachers and students, in interviews, related that TAKS (Texas Assessment of Knowledge Skills)
benchmark tests are given every six weeks to identify student problem areas; these areas are then
reviewed in classes. As per District guidelines, students at risk of failing TAKS were given mentors.
Midland ISD has taken steps to raise expectations for all high school students. This year the district
paid for all sophomores to take the PSAT and all seniors to take the SAT. Midland ISD has also
established the expectation that for students taking high school credit math courses in junior high must
also take four courses of math while on the LHS campus. The new open enrollment for Pre-AP courses
have resulted an increased participation in these courses. Midland High School faculty proudly shared
that in 2007 seventy-nine students took one hundred fifty-nine AP exams. At the time of the TAV, four
hundred eighteen students had registered to take six hundred ninety-nine AP exams in May 2008.
All seniors are given a letter of acceptance from Midland College as part of a College Connection
Partnership developed with Midland ISD. Graduates also are eligible for the Legacy Scholarship
which enables students to attend Midland College tuition-free. Students must graduate with a 2.75 or
higher grade point average and have completed forty hours of community service.
The faculty’s commitment to raise expectations resulted in an improvement for students taking the
ACT. Table 2 reflects the increase in MHS students’ mean ACT scores which are higher than the State
and National scores in all subgroups except African Americans.
Table 2: Comparison of Class of 2007 MHS ACT Means Scores with State and
National Averages by Subgroups
Overall Male Female AA Hispanic White
MHS 22.2 21.6 22.5 16.8 19.8 23.1
State 20.7 20.3 20.3 17.6 18.4 22.9
Nation 21.1 21.2 21.0 17.8 19.5 22.9
Source: 2007 ACT High School Profile Report
Special programs also support students with specific needs. AVID has been implemented in the
sophomore level this year to support students identified by the Midland Freshmen High School as
candidates for the program. Students and teachers felt AVID has been a great addition to the campus.
Students interviewed said that their AVID teachers had visited their homes and had the highest
expectations of all their teachers. Provided by the District, all teachers will have SIOP (Sheltered
Instruction Observation Protocol) professional development to incorporate instructional strategies that
help English as Second Language students.
Teachers provide extra help opportunities to students in multiple formats before, during and after
school. ―We have to go to tutoring if we fail anything,‖ one student interviewed stated. The school has
a technology-based A+ Credit recovery program. Teachers also reported using Study Island, UT
Telecampus and ASKME (UT online program) to assist struggling students.
Opportunities for extra help are available before and after school as well as during the hour length
lunch period. Students indicated that teachers are available to help and the school offers a tutorial bus
each evening. Communities in School (CIS) has been very beneficial in assisting with tutoring.
Evening classes for credit recovery are also available at the district’s alternative school.
Second, the TA team observed examples of continuous review and revision of the curriculum to
meet student needs. The Office of Teaching and Learning has established non-negotiables for each
department for scope and sequences, as well as benchmarks, for TAKS preparation to be implemented
at both Lee and Midland High School.
District office personnel have developed scope and sequences in all areas except Social Studies and
Science. Some of the Mathematics teachers felt that the strongest scope and sequence was in the area
of Math because everything has been done for them and PowerPoint's are available to students online.
Benchmark exams are done by grading period in all core areas; however, some teachers and students
did not know what was done with the data. One teacher stated, ―We get the information back so late,
we can’t do anything with it because we have moved on.‖
Third, the TA team noted examples of quality instruction that engaged students in challenging
learning. One compliment paid to MHS is for the variety of novels read in Language Arts classes.
The novels are on grade level and surpass the variety seen in other schools across Texas. Several
Language Arts classrooms had evidence of writing portfolios. Students in AP courses were discussing
a writing rubric used to grade essays. AP English IV students were brainstorming contemporary issue
related to A Modest Proposal so they could write a satirical response. Real world connections were
observed in another Language Arts classroom through a discussion of Keeping Up With the
Kardashians and Real Housewives of Orange County, two cable reality shows. Pre AP English II
students were analyzing the poem ―Refuge Blues‖ using an advanced placement strategy TP-CASTT:
Title, Paraphrase, Connotation, Attitudes, Shifts, Title and Theme.
One ―advanced‖ level English IV course was utilizing Socratic seminar to discuss ―What do parents
owe their children?‖ based on their study of Frankenstein. The teacher made connections to a
contemporary movie and talked a bout a former student in prison and the importance of being
connected to each other.
One team member felt the best lesson they observed was in a Business Law class where the teacher
had the students engaged by verbalizing and using kinesthetic awareness to review relationships and
the relevance to the lesson on contracts.
In one math class, students used the SMART Boards to demonstrate how to solve a problem. Students
did group work in an English II class related to propaganda and how to identify it in visual messages
by looking at symbols and colors.
One CTE course that had total student engagement was the Nutrition/ Food Science class. Students
participated in a quick bread demonstration. To earn extra points they were asked to go home and
make the recipe for their family.
Although limited, technology was observed in several classrooms as a method of delivering
instruction. Most impressive was the use of calculators in the Special Education Resource Mathematic
classes. All students interviewed by team members were able to explain how to use the calculator and
why they were using it. In Pre AP Chemistry the students were learning how to create hot ice though
supersaturated solution via a You Tube video. Research and Development students were working on
their exhibition-based presentations. CTE students were creating products relevant to workplace
applications using Microsoft’s Excel and PowerPoint.
Fourth, the TA team noted examples of quality guidance and advisement meeting needs of
students and their parents. Interviews and artifacts showed evidence of several activities to keep
students and parents informed about expectations and applying for college. Parents particularly are
appreciative of GradeSpeed available online for them to check grades and attendance.
When interviewed the counselors shared they use Bridges, a career exploration tool, for students who
voluntarily choose to use it.
College Connection with Midland College helps students fill out FAFSA forms and apply for college.
Parents also reported that the College Forum conducted by the PTA was useful, although attendance
was limited. Several students reported that they meet one-on-one with their counselor to plan the career
path and classes they need. Students are placed on a ―danger list‖ to alert teachers who needs extra
In addition, counselors publish a senior newsletter, giving information about important events. Seniors
and parents may get additional information through the school website. MHS hosts a college
information session regarding admission and financial aid with representatives from the Midland
College manage the College Connection Partnership. In addition, a College Night is held for all
students in Midland Independent School District.
Fifth, the TA team noted examples of quality leadership and support provided by the principal,
superintendent and board of education. To support the variety of initiatives taking place at the
school, professional development is available at the district level and outside the district for anyone
who wishes to attend. Teachers indicated district support has helped a lot, especially with all of the
new initiatives being implemented.
Through another District expectation, new teachers are assigned mentors; however, there is not a
structure time they can meet. Generally, if there is a problem the new teachers will seek out their
Team members also heard that the district office is taking steps to improve technology in all
Through interviews and a review of materials, the team learned that MHS has planned next steps that
Form Professional Learning Communities as a framework for teachers to work together to
Expand the ELL/ LEP program with another teacher
Expand AVID strategies to more students
Use an Academic Coach to work with Math and Science teachers
Double Block Math and Science classes
Implement the new 4 x 4 requirements – 4 years of math/science
CHALLENGES AND RECOMMENDED ACTIONS
High performing schools send a consistent message from teachers and staff about what all students
must do to meet expectations for success beyond high school. The TAV team identified several
challenges facing MHS in order to consistently convey that message. Communication is not uniform
in getting the vision of MHS to all faculty and staff. Some departments meet weekly, while others
meet monthly. Another department receives information via the email.
The overarching challenge for MHS is for faculty and administration to create a rigorous, effort-
based culture that prepares all students for success after high school. This serves as a blueprint for
all other challenges. To determine actions to take, faculty members must, not only look at achievement
gaps, but look at gaps in opportunities and expectations for all students. The next section takes a
deeper look at the gaps that currently exist at the school.
The State of Texas requires students to pass the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills test (TAKS) to
fulfill the graduation requirement. The Table 3 shows a decrease in percentages for all students
meeting standards from 2007 to 2008 except in 11th grade social studies. At both grade levels, in the all
students category, MHS scored below state scores.
Table 3: MHS Performance on 2007-2008* TAKS Exams—
Percentage of Students Meeting Standard
State All MHS Af Am Hispanic White
2008 2007 2008 2007 2008 2007 2008 2007 2008 2007
10th Grade English 86 85% 79% 83% 69% 73% 75% 76% 86% 92%
10th Grade Math 63 65 62 65 47 34 48 53 80 81
10th Grade Science 64 59 58 64 41 36 40 40 81 80
10th Grade Social St. 88 87 81 91 75 78 73 78 92 97
11th Grade English 96 91 88 89 83 78 79 83 96 96
11th Grade Math 90 81 78 81 50 63 68 70 91 93
11th Grade Science 91 78 76 72 51 57 63 56 91 89
11th Grade Soc St. 97 94 94 91 86 86 89 84 100 99
Source: 2007 Texas Academic Excellence Indicator System Reports *2008 Preliminary TAKS scores
However, a further study of the state accountability data for both met standards (Table 3) and
commended (Table 4) reveals an achievement gap of at least twenty percent between minority
subgroups and whites for students scoring at the commended level. Data shows there needs to be an
expectation to be commended rather than just met minimum standards.
Table 4: Percentage of Sum of All Grades Tested for MHS Students Commended in Academic Core on
the 2007 Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS)
Reading/ELA Mathematics Science Social Studies
2007 2006 2007 2006 2007 2006 2007 2006
All Students 17% 12% 22% 1% 14% 12% 36% 29%
African Americans 10 6 5 2 1 3 14 10
Hispanics 9 4 10 5 5 4 18 13
White 28 19 36 25 24 20 55 46
Econ Disadvantaged 6 3 6 4 4 3 16 11
Source: TEA 2007 Campus Academic Excellence Indicator System Data
A new indicator is part of the College-Readiness Indicators in the Academic Excellence Indicator
System (AEIS) report. The College-Readiness Graduates Indicator requires a graduate to have exceeded
the college-ready criteria on the TAKS exit-level exam or the SAT or ACT exams. This indicator
differs from the Texas Success Initiative (TSI) shown in Table 5, the Higher Education Readiness
Component in that:
it includes performance on the SAT or ACT;
it is based on prior year graduates rather than the current 11th graders;
it provides an overall measure of both subjects combined; and
performance is tied to the campus and district where the student graduated, while the TSI indicator
uses the campus and district were the TAKS exams were administered.
Although above the state, the figures show that only about four out of ten graduates leave with the
skills needed for success after high school.
Table 5: College-Readiness Graduates MHS Class of 2006
State MHS Male Female
ELA 48% 46% 45% 48%
Math 52 60 67 53
Both Exams 35 41 43 39
Source: 2007 AEIS Campus Report
Another measure of college readiness, provided through statewide testing, indicates an achievement
gap. Table 6 shows the results of MHS students on the ―Texas Success Initiative–Higher Education
Readiness Component‖ (TSI). TSI determines how many students are judged ready to attend
postsecondary education. LHS students score above the State average. Based on scores for the Class
of 2007, in English Language Arts there is a thirty-four percent gap between Hispanics and Whites and
a thirty-nine percent gap between African Americans and Whites. Mathematics scores show even a
wider gap between Whites and African Americans.
Table 6: MHS Students Meeting Standards on Texas Success Initiative
2007 2006 2007 2006
Overall 51% 22% 56% 54%
Hispanic 36 17 39 33
White 70 27 77 72
African Am 31 14 29 32
Econ. Disadv. 29 10 36 32
Source: TEA 2007 Campus Academic Excellence Indicator System Tables
Several students shared they had developed four year plans in junior high and had never seen them
again. Students need to take challenging courses to succeed after high school. Data supplied by the
AEIS report shown in Table 8 indicate that minority students are under-represented in the completion
of these programs.
Table 7: Percent of MHS Students Completing Advanced Courses
MHS White Af Am Hispanic
2005-06 26.9 39.0 15.1 14.9
2004-05 27.3 40.2 11.7 13.5
Source: TEA 2007 AEIS Report
Giving all students access to courses that make a difference in improving achievement must become a
priority for MHS. This year all Pre AP and Advanced Placement courses implemented open
enrollment. Numbers in Table 9 show that despite the open-enrollment practice begun this year, far too
few minority students take advantage of the opportunity to participate in these programs. Students
interviewed said the ―open enrollment in Pre AP and AP classes as ruined them.‖ When questioned
how, their reply was ―You know—all those students who don’t know anything are just there to say
they’re in a good class.‖
Table 8: 2007 Midland High School AP Course Enrollments by Ethnicity
Ethnicity and % of Total Student Population: Asian Af Am Hispanic White Other
% Enrolled in AP Courses 1.8 % 5.0% 21.4% 70.5% 1.0%
No. Students Enrolled in AP Courses 7 19 81 266 4
Source: (Initials) Class Enrollment Analysis
One challenge both the principal and faculty identify is that of attendance and dropout. During the
principal’s interview she state, ―There are two separate worlds--Kids that do not come and those who
do.‖ Teachers indicted the constant changing of policies was what created enforcing attendance and
tardy policies. Keeping students enrolled from ninth grade to graduation is a challenge for MHS and
provides a serious opportunity gap. Promotion powers another method to look at an opportunity gap
for MHS. Using numbers in the National Center Educational Statistics Common Core of Data and a
statistic devised by Johns Hopkins, promotion power is a straight forward ratio of the number of 12th
graders enrolled in a school to those who were in the ninth grade three years. Table 9 reveals
promotion power 2002-2005. Current figures indicate only 73 percent of the ninth graders make it to
the senior year in three years.
Table 9: Midland High School Promotion Power
Current 12th Grade Previous 9th Grade
School Year Enrollment1 Enrollment2 Promotion Power3
2004-2005 579 796 73%
2003-2004 577 807 71%
2002-2003 592 804 74%
2001-2002 600 877 68%
Data represents 12th grade enrollment for the fall term of the listed school year
Data represents 9th grade enrollment for the fall term three school years earlier
Promotion power represents the percentage of students who make it from 9th grade to 12th grade in the
standard three years.
The team noted a gap in expectations for preparing students for post-secondary success. Advanced
Placement courses have clear standards established and students take an assessment to determine their
level of meeting the standards. Achievement on these exams reflects the level of expectations within
the classrooms. Approximately half of the students taking AP exams fail to meet standards for success
on the assessments.
Table 10: MHS AP Data Summary
2006 2005 2004
Number of AP Courses Taken by Students 14 14 14
Number of AP Exams Taken by Students 202 NA NA
Number of Exams with a score of 3+ 130 NA NA
Percentage of Exams with a score of 3 + 64% NA NA
Source: School data School College Board AP Report
To address these gaps, the Technical Assistance team recommends that faculty and leaders at Midland
High School develop plans to address the following specific challenges.
The first challenge for MHS is to provide rigorous, engaging instruction through student-
centered approaches. Team members were very concerned with the apathy demonstrated through the
ineffective use of class time and the lack of engaging instruction. Many classes had multiple cases of
tardiness that were not addressed and bell-to-bell instruction was not utilized. One member was in a
class ten minutes before the teacher showed up.
Overall, students experience a reliance on teacher-centered instruction. Students assigned to
―advanced‖ level courses were unengaged. In these courses there is a prominent use of lectures and/or
worksheets as the primary method of instruction in content areas other than social studies.
The team noted that a coordinated effort to focus on literacy does not exist across the school. Few
teachers were incorporating the use of literacy skills in classrooms and students could give only a few
examples where they were required to read and/or write to learn the content of courses other than
Mathematics teachers varied in their reactions to the district-driven scope and sequence. Some
appreciated not having to do anything; while others said it really didn’t ―allow us the leeway we
needed to re-teach and work with struggling students.‖ These attitudinal concerns may contribute to
MHS having missed AYP for math performance four out of the last six years, including the most
Some CTE teachers interviewed voiced a desire to help the core teachers with showing relevance to
what they are teaching. Many CTE teachers stated through integrate projects students would be able to
apply the theory they are studying.
Action 1: Make improving instruction a focus across the school. The instructional leaders must
work with teachers to implement new strategies that actively engage all students in learning new
material. School leaders must make quality instruction a focus throughout the school. Teachers must
accept responsibility for teaching all students, not just those who are motivated.
Have each department move beyond the focus on curriculum to develop a specific plan to improve
instruction. Use department meetings to provide follow-up for professional development; opportunities
for teachers to look at assignments, assessments and student work to see if they meet standards; and
mini-learning opportunities focusing on new strategies.
Expect teachers to observe other staff members at least once a month. Encourage teachers to establish
demonstration classrooms. Encourage visitation of peer classrooms, especially teachers who are
modeling effective instructional strategies that engage students. Expert instruction takes place in every
school. When teachers observe other teachers, they increase the likelihood that quality instruction will
spread in the building. Establish a process for documenting each observation and have a contest to see
which department conducts the most peer observations.
Have leaders conduct daily walk-through observations (focus walks) and note examples of quality
instruction. Spend five to 10 minutes in each classroom and highlight practices observed. Leave
comments with the teacher and move to the next classroom. Tabulate strategies observed over the
course of a week or a month to provide feedback to the faculty.
Provide additional opportunities for professional development on instructional practices. Make
instruction the focus of faculty meetings. Have an excellence-in-teaching item on the agenda for each
faculty and department meeting to recognize teachers for outstanding instruction. Ask teachers to
model outstanding practices. Expect staff members to spend at least four hours a month in a study
group that focuses on a teaching strategy.
Have the principal and administrative team conduct daily walkthrough observations and note
examples of quality instruction. Spend five to ten minutes in each classroom and highlight
practices observed. Leave comments for the teacher and move on to the next classroom. Tabulate
strategies observed over the course of a week/month to provide faculty with feedback on changes
to instructional strategies. An excellent resources on leading change are SREBs publications:
What School Principals Need to Know about Curriculum and Instruction
), Leadership Matters: Building Leadership Capacity
(http://www.sreb.org/main/Leadership/pubs/01V18_LeadershipMatters.pdf ) and Making
Leadership Happen (http://www.sreb.org/maim/Leadership/pubs/TableOfContents.asp ).
Action 2: Have teachers and leaders work to improve instruction together by developing
Teachers begin instruction immediately when class begins and work to final bell.
Teachers to place instructional objectives and homework assignments on the board
daily. Students will be more focused when they know what they are expected to learn during
a class. It also assists administrators or peers observing classes by making the day’s
Students to redo work until they achieve the mastery or an established level of
proficiency. Address C, D and F grades through re-do policies, adjustments in teaching
methods, second chances to demonstrate mastery and requiring extra help (double dosing,
school-day help, summer bridge program, etc.) before failure is established.
Leaders to develop a follow-up process for professional development. Make sure follow-
up procedures impact instruction and are a part of the overall evaluation system. Create a
monitoring process that requires teachers to document the use of strategies learned in
Action 3: Place a major emphasis on literacy across the curriculum. Literacy impacts all content
areas. Students interviewed stated they were only required to read in Language Arts. It is imperative
for teachers to implement a well-developed and comprehensive school literacy plan that contains
actions to address the SREB Literacy Goals:
Goal 1. Read the equivalent of 25 books per year across the curriculum. Students’ reading
skills and their understanding of content will grow if they read more and are exposed to a wider
range of materials. Expect teachers in every class to assign reading appropriate to course content
and expect students to demonstrate understanding of what they read. Have students read both
fiction and nonfiction, including technical manuals and articles from journals and magazines. Let
students choose materials within parameters that will allow them to meet course goals.
Goal 2. Write weekly in all classes. Expect students to complete short writing assignments each
week in all classes. Assignments can include journals, letters, editorials, essays, process
descriptions, open-response questions, reports and written summaries. Have some writing
assignments for audiences and purposes outside the classroom. Have students get frequent
opportunities to revise their writing to improve quality. Use common grade-level rubrics to
evaluate student work.
Goal 3. Write research papers in all classes. Research is an integral part of most adult
occupations and is a skill that must be learned in school. Research includes multiple steps, such as
defining the question, locating and evaluating information, summarizing and paraphrasing
information, combining information in a logical piece of writing, and documenting sources. Have
students write some research papers in the traditional format. Others may be in the form of
proposals, laboratory reports or journal articles.
Goal 4. Use reading and writing strategies to improve learning in all classes. Expect students
to read two to three books or the equivalent appropriate to the subject in each class other than
English/language arts. Students should be taught and required to use a variety of strategies to deal
with different kinds of materials read for different purposes. Expect students to summarize what
they have learned, ask clarifying questions and analyze content, purpose and structure of a piece of
Goal 5. Complete a rigorous English/language arts curriculum taught like a college-prep
honors course. Expect all students to read 10 to12 books in English/language arts each year.
Assigned materials can include a wide variety of grade-level selections, including young adult and
classic novels, biographies, poetry, short stories and essays. Expect students to make connections
among various reading materials and to relate what they read to personal experiences and real life.
Written work will demonstrate understanding of what students read and will reflect a growing
ability to organize thoughts and communicate clearly.
All MHS teachers consistently need to use the literacy strategies that meet the needs of their
curriculum areas. It is important for all teachers to remember that they are teaching students to read to
learn and write to learn. Make technical literacy an integral part of the CT courses offered. Review at
least monthly teacher assignments, student work and exams for evidence of these five elements being
addressed in CT classrooms. Technical literacy focuses on giving students the ability to read, interpret,
comprehend and analyze information in the field of study that:
requires frequent oral presentations;
integrates reading assignments related to the curriculum such as reading and reporting on articles
from professional journals;
requires students to read a career-related article once a month and demonstrate understanding of the
integrates writing assignments such as lab journals, written project plans and ―how-to‖ brochures
on procedures students have learned.
Use implementation logs to document the use of literacy strategies in classrooms. Create a ―wall of
excellence‖ to display student literacy work and recognize teachers for using effective strategies.
Action 4: Focus on mathematics instruction, to improve opportunity for students to acquire
mathematic skills, reasoning skills and understanding necessary for success in high school and in
high school for postsecondary studies and careers.
Goal 1: Align all mathematics courses to state and national standards to ensure all students graduate
from high school, pass employer certification exams and enter college without having to take remedial
or developmental courses.
Move standards into the curriculum by planning multi-day, standards-based units. Have teachers
outline what students are expected to know and be able to do to demonstrate mastery of each standard
and the major teacher strategies and student assignments that will be used to assess if students have
mastered the material.
Goal 2: Develop an improvement plan for the next three years to dramatically raise achievement
of mathematics students and to reduce failure rates in mathematics courses. The administrators
must provide in-depth instruction to mathematics teachers to support them in change what they teach,
how they teach and how they assess students in mathematics.
Provide professional development activities modeled to help learn how to incorporate mathematics
into assignments in ways that enhance learning in their discipline area;
Train school leadership teams on how to give guidance for improving mathematics instruction and
how to conduct mathematics classroom observations using a standard protocol.
Disaggregate student achievement data to determine mathematics deficiencies and the amount of
time devoted to various mathematics topics, concepts and skills in mathematics and other classes
Goal 3: Collaborate with SREB’s Leadership Initiative to conduct a two-part staff development series
on Leading Schoolwide Numeracy. This 3+1 design asks a leadership team to come to a common
definition of numeracy, to take stock of the current status of numeracy in their school, and to formulate an
action plan for numeracy. October 2008. See http://www.sreb.org/main/Leadership/Modules/login.asp
Goal 4: Designate a cross-curricular numeracy leadership team with the following charge:
Meet as a numeracy team on a regular, frequent basis; ensure that all team members are
accountable for accomplishing tasks according to the timeline that has been established.
Design and implement a series of exercises, readings, and/or meetings to build a sense of urgency
around improving all students’ numeracy.
Initiate other professional development activities to increase school competence in numeracy
instruction and numeracy practices.
Establish at least one school wide numeracy-related activity monthly and gather data related to this
Goal 5: Determine best practices for numeracy and implement them over time across the school.
Examples might include:
We evaluate the processes for placing students in mathematics classes to ensure that groups of
students are not being excluded from a challenging mathematics program.
We have established teacher leaders or mathematics specialists who can mentor and support
We spend time observing mathematics classrooms.
We ensure that decisions about placing students in mathematics classes and evaluation of teachers’
effectiveness are not based on a single test.
Teachers use a variety of classroom assessment methods that measure conceptual understanding
along with factual and procedural understanding.
Actively engaging students
Jan Struebing, Springdale HS, Ark. (479) 750-8726, (479) 236-3164, or firstname.lastname@example.org
Advanced Placement (AP) and Pre AP courses
The College Board: AP Counselor Hotline (877) 274-6474
Scott McClanahan, Dallas, Texas. (210) 378-5334, email@example.com
Douglas Reeves, The Leadership and Learning Center, Englewood, Colo., (866) 399-6019
Effective question techniques
Edvantia (formerly Appalachian Educational Lab), W.Va. QUILT program, (800) 624-9120,
HSTW sites with high science scores
James Skeeler, principal, Iowa Park HS, Texas, (940) 592-2144, firstname.lastname@example.org
Literacy Across the Curriculum
Debbie Hall, SREB, (404) 879-5597, email@example.com
Jeanette Hodges (five goals), Taylor Mill, Ky., (859) 356-8281, firstname.lastname@example.org
Renee Murray, SREB, (859) 296-9393, email@example.com
Moving Standards into Classrooms
Lois Barnes, (615) 423-1588 firstname.lastname@example.org
Heather Sass, SREB, (614) 847-5832, email@example.com
Kenna Barger, Barger Educational Consulting, W.Va. firstname.lastname@example.org
Proficient Level Work
Betty S. Harbin, (251) 602 0097, email@example.com
Scott McClanahan, (214)440-2730, firstname.lastname@example.org
Betty S. Harbin, (251) 602 0097, email@example.com
Larry Rainey firstname.lastname@example.org
Summer reading program
Steve Broome, SREB, (404) 879-5592, email@example.com
The second challenge for MHS is to increase the rigor of all courses to prepare all students for
career and college-readiness. The state of Texas has established expectations for students to complete
a challenging academic core by creating the 4 X 4 core requirement. However, teaching those courses
to the rigor required for success in meeting college and career readiness standards is the challenge.
The team noted that students did not appear challenged consistently in many classrooms. Low level
questioning was prominent. The team noted a general absence of rigor in many classrooms. In classes
identified as ―advanced,‖ team members observed a difference in expectations for student work and
effort. Team members noted many of these teachers were apathetic as to whether students were
learning or not. Students in these classrooms were unengaged. Team members witnessed several
students sleeping during lessons and class activities.
During the team interview with the principal, she stated one of her biggest challenges was that
―Teachers need to make a real change in mind. They need to see the global picture. They have to
believe that our high school can work—they need to see the light at the end of the tunnel.‖
Clear expectations are a prerequisite for obtaining quality student performance in a rigorous
curriculum. Expectations for behavior are prominent. However, clear expectations for achievement are
prominent only in Pre AP and AP courses. Teachers interviewed stated, ―Opening the Pre AP and AP
classes has created difficulties.‖ ―The increased number of students in the classes hurts the teacher’s
ability to grade and give feedback that will improve rigor.‖ One teacher told team members that
―students who self-select themselves for rigorous courses are only fooling themselves.‖ Another
teacher said in spite of the CollegeBoard audits done last year to raise rigor, they were now ―forced to
water down the courses to let everyone in.‖ Students reported being encouraged by their Pre AP and
AP teachers to drop the course because they ―will never be able to do the work.‖
Rubrics were not utilized in many classrooms; little student work was posted in classrooms or hallways
and students could not clearly articulate what it takes to make an A or B in classes.
Using grading practices to encourage effort by establishing expectations for students to redo work that
does not meet standards is a key to raised expectations. Despite this fact, students did not indicate that
teachers require them to redo work until it meets standards. When interviewed, seniors indicated ―if
you fail, that’s it. Very few teachers give you a second chance.‖ Teachers indicated they may give
students additional chances, but it was not an expectation and not consistent. Seniors also indicated if
a ―student doesn’t try, the teachers will just give up on them.‖
To be prepared for challenging post-secondary work, students need to experience rigorous work in
high school. Samples of lessons and assessments were submitted by all core, non-core and CTE
teachers. Midland ISD labels general level courses as advanced. Of the artifacts submitted for
―advanced‖ level courses, sixty percent were identified by the team as below basic with thirty percent
at the basic level and only ten percent at the proficient level. At the ―advanced‖ level no sample
lessons or assessments were identified as advanced level work based on the HSTW Instructional
Review Rubric. Most of the artifacts were textbook or TAKS preparation worksheets. Artifacts for the
Pre AP and Advanced Placement courses varied. At this level, team members found higher
expectations through the quality of assignments and assessments. Only twenty percent of the artifacts
were identified as basic level, with seventy percent at the proficient and ten percent of the artifacts at
the advanced level.
Action 1: Build upon the new requirements established by House Bill #1 and make college and
career readiness the focus of the MHS for all students. The requirements will raise expectations for
courses students must take. Both incoming freshmen and next year’s sophomores will have enough
time in their four-year plans to be required to take additional courses. School leaders and teachers must
work to ensure that all courses are taught to the college-preparatory level. Use the following expanded
definitions as a guide to ensure the rigor of the courses offered at MHS meets college and career
Align the academic core to the states new college- and career-readiness standards. Success on the
TAKS does not equate to college-readiness. Ask each academic department to determine what students
should know and be able to do to meet the state’s college-readiness standards at each grade level. One
approach is to supplement state graduation standards with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating
Board (THECB) Texas College Readiness Standards or ACT College Readiness Standards that provide
sequential performance indicators in the core academic areas. Take the essential readiness standards
developed for each core academic area and align current courses for grades nine through 12 to the
College-preparatory English/language arts
Course-work: All students should complete four years of college-preparatory English.
English/language arts skills: Students need to gain experience in the following five areas:
Reading: Students read the equivalent of eight to 10 books including novels, short stories, plays,
technical manuals, essays, journal articles and other real-world texts and analyze the content
through written reports, oral presentations, peer discussions and performance of tasks described in
Writing: Students write every day in various formats for multiple audiences. Each week, students
prepare a paper of at least three pages for a grade. Teachers use rubrics to grade writing and to
provide guidance for students to revise frequently. Students should write to demonstrate learning
(e.g., essays, constructed response questions), and for audiences and purposes beyond the
classroom (e.g., letters, business proposals, editorials).
Research: Students conduct research for a variety of papers, including a formal research paper.
Students should define their own questions, locate and evaluate information, summarize and
paraphrase information, combine information in cogent writing and document sources.
Speaking and Listening: Students participate in learning conversations (cooperative learning), as
well as frequent presentations. They listen for various purposes, including note-taking and
analyzing presentations by classmates and others.
Technology: Students frequently use technology to locate and to present information. They
conduct Internet searches, and use common presentation tools such as PowerPoint and word
Course-work: All students need to complete four of the following courses: Algebra I, Algebra II,
geometry, and a higher-level mathematics course.
Mathematical Processes: There are four mathematical processes that students should study.
Problem solving is essential for analyzing problems and developing solution strategies. Students
need experiences that promote the connections between mathematical ideas.
Reading and communication skills are necessary for students to read problems, interpret them and
understand what they are asking. Students should be able to explain their thinking processes, the
mathematical concepts and the solution strategies using mathematical terms and concepts.
Estimation skills are necessary for students to verify their answers and solutions. This skill allows
students to recognize correct answers, check for reasonableness and identify mistakes, so they can
revise their work.
Logical reasoning is fundamental to mathematics. Students need a variety of experiences that
exemplify the reasoning they will see in further study. Students should be familiar with both
inductive and deductive reasoning.
Mathematical Skills: Even with calculator-based algebra systems and other technology, students still
need to master procedural skills. Courses should equally emphasize understanding mathematics
concepts and reasoning and using these concepts to solve real-world problems.
Technology: Students should use the Internet for research and to review online lessons and resources.
Students also need to use word processing, PowerPoint and spreadsheets, as well as graphing
calculators, hand-held computers, lab-based probes and other equipment in order to experience real-life
application of key mathematical ideas.
Course-work: All students should complete three to four science courses including biology,
chemistry, physics and anatomy and physiology. College-preparatory courses require a minimum of 30
percent of rigorous lab-based, hands-on activities.
Research: Students use common household items and equipment to design and conduct authentic
research studies and answer specific questions. Classroom and field-based research studies require
students to collect and analyze data. Students present and defend data and apply new findings to
everyday life. College-preparatory students ask questions and use critical thinking skills to distinguish
between what is and what is not scientific data.
Scientific Literacy: Literacy in science is a complex blend of print, visual, electronic and oral media.
Reading, writing, speaking, listening and mastering scientific terms are integral skills in college-
preparatory science. Students use these skills to communicate science information and encourage
scientific interest. Students should identify scientific issues relating to personal and societal issues and
express views in scientific terms.
Technology: Students should use the Internet to conduct current research, to read classic science
papers and review online lessons and resources. Students should use common tools such as word
processing, PowerPoint and spreadsheets. Scientific equipment such as hand-held computers, lab-
based probes, balances and other equipment integrate mathematics into science.
Action 2: Create clear expectations for achievement across the school. Design and
implement common course syllabi, assignment rubrics, assessments and course assurances.
Developing course assurances, helps teachers understand what students must learn in order to be
successful at the next level. When a teacher says ―By the end of my course you will have
learned….‖ students and parents understand the expectations. This will ensure that all students
know what it takes to get an ―A‖ or ―B‖ in each course. (See Attachment 2 on developing
syllabi). There are five components to effective syllabi.
A course description with a clear purpose that is part of a rigorous program of study
An instructional philosophy that actively engage students in learning challenging content
Course goals that are based on national, state, and/or industry standards
A variety of intellectually challenging work that engages students
A variety of assessment practices, what is needed to earn an ―A‖ or ―B‖ and the procedures for
Building administrators must lead the changes in expectation and create a culture of continuous
improvement, where instruction is the focus of all discussions. Create a school culture of high
expectations where faculty and staff understand that effort creates ability. School leaders should devote
time at each faculty meeting to discuss current data and for one or more teachers to share a strategy
that they have found effective in engaging students in learning and improving their achievement. The
conversation needs to focus around the questions:
What do students need to know and be able to do?
How will the teachers/ administers know the students have mastered it?
What will they do when the students do not learn?
Currently, the faculty is organized in conference periods based on their Professional Learning
Community (PLC) study group. However, teachers stated they had done very little as groups. Since
these PLCs are mixed disciplines, this would be a good time for faculty to discuss instruction in their
disciplines and to look at student work.
Administrators should model effective instruction in faculty meetings and communicate the
importance of quality instruction by conducting walkthrough observations to collect and analyze
Action 3: Increase the rigor in classrooms by having a team of school leaders, teachers,
administrators and district curriculum leaders develop procedures for requiring all students to
re-do work that falls below grade level. The policy should include responsibilities of the central
office, administration and teachers in its implementation and notification of all stakeholders. The
school policy should include extra help and support for students to redo work. Too many students have
been failed to ―prove a point‖ because several teachers interviewed believe failure builds
responsibility. For example, students who produced below grade level work or failed to complete an
assignment are required to attend after-school sessions where teachers assist students in redoing work
until it meets standard. Some schools designate time during the school day for all students to have
opportunities for academic intervention, which may be peer support, teacher assistance, ACT/SAT
preparation, state test preparation, writing or math labs, or homework lab. Students falling below grade
level are required to attend extra help sessions for one week. Require all students who are working
below ―C‖ level to attend extra help sessions, before, after or during school. Beyond the methods
above, extra help might be in the form of credit-recovery, double-dosing and summer school.
Some schools designate time during the school day for all students to have opportunities for academic
intervention that may include peer support, teacher assistance, ACT/SAT preparation, state test
preparation, writing or math labs or homework lab. Students falling below grade level are required to
attend prescribed extra help sessions for one week. Require all students who are working below ―C‖
level to attend extra help sessions, before, after or during school.
Action 4: Increase the rigor of questioning, assignments and assessments in classrooms.
Have each academic department to conduct an audit of questions asked in each class. Provide
additional professional development on how to look at student work, assignments and
assessments. Use this training as follow-up to QUILT workshops. Have each academic
department conduct an instructional review of the levels of assignments and assessments.
Without high-level assignments, students cannot do high-level work. By raising the levels to
proficient or advanced, teachers will challenge students to learn the content necessary for higher
achievement on state testing. Consider the following professional development activities, which
may be included in long-range plans.
Effective questioning techniques. These techniques support direct instruction, and recitation
can also be the focus of staff development.
Integrated project-based learning.
Student-centered, hands-on instructional strategies. These could include cooperative
learning, which means small groups of students are solving problems through research,
analysis of data, predictions, comparisons, contrasts, etc. There should be an individual grade
and a group grade. Other student-centered instruction may be project-based learning, which
allows students to use information learned to create a product. Train teachers to design
projects that meet standards and rubric development. Quality Student ―A‖ products should
then be displayed in the classrooms and hallways.
Action 5: Provide diversity professional development for all teachers. All classrooms need to be
inclusive in the sense that teachers plan for high expectations in their classrooms. Unconsciously by
the assignments and tasks we ask students to do, sends a clear message as to our expectations. At
present Team members were concerned with the amount of apathy on the part of the faculty. Teachers
complain that students ―are not interested in learning, and don’t see the relevance of instruction
because they can get good money in the oil fields with no education.‖ ―Students are the reason we are
in trouble with our scores.‖ One teacher state, ―We don’t need another program. We are
knowledgeable and skilled at what we do. What we need is to have people [District and administration]
drop one more thing for us to do. At some point things need to stop rolling downhill.‖ MHS is two
high schools—one of privilege and one of poverty. When faculty communicate high expectations for
all students, they make sure assignment guidelines and grading criteria are clearly communicated and
teach with strategies that enable students to be successful.
Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) Texas College Readiness Standards available
ACT College Readiness Standards available at http://www.act.org/path/secondary/resources.html
CollegeBoard Standards for Success available at http://professionals.collegeboard.com/k-12/standards
Diversity Professional Development
Dr. Donna Beegle, Communication Across Barriers PO Box 23071 Tigard, OR 97281-3071 (503)590-
Dr. Ako Kambon Visionary Leaders Institute 59 N. Ohio Ave. Columbus OH 43203 (614) 258-9092
Dr. Robert Lynn Canady, Va. (434) 296-8515, (434) 960-7166, firstname.lastname@example.org
Moving Standards into Classrooms
Lois Barnes, (615) 423-1588 email@example.com
Heather Sass, SREB, (614) 847-5832, firstname.lastname@example.org
Proficient Level Work
Betty S. Harbin, (251) 602 0097, email@example.com
The third challenge for MHS is to continue to upgrade the quality of the career technical
education (CTE) classes by creating quality programs that prepare students to meet industry
standards. Currently, too few students complete a concentration that gives them a focused pathway or
concentration and few underclassmen view a series of quality CTE courses as an avenue for
Too few students are leaving MHS having met industry certifications. Although the percentage who
complete the concentration and meet industry standards is high, with 969 students enrolled in CTE
courses, the total number of students remains far too low. Table 12 shows current industry
certifications earned by Midland HS graduates.
Table 12: Midland HS Summary of Career/Technical Certifications
State or National Certifications/ Licenses
Name of Pathway Number of Students Number of Students Number of Students
Completing the Pathway Attempting the Attaining
Transportation 10 10 9 ASE
Health Science Tech 30 30 27 Nurse Aid Cert
Human Services 14 9 6 Cosmetology
Source: Midland ISD Data provide for TAV profile
Quality career technical programs also have a value-added to academics and can help students connect
the theory with the practical applications for what they are learning. Engagement in CTE courses
varied from complete hands-on to students sleeping. When questioned why a third of the students were
doing worksheets or sleeping, the team member was told, ―They did a project first semester and aren’t
interested in doing anything this semester.‖
The current CTE offerings do not all follow a pathway. CTE courses should bring relevance to what
students are learning in academic courses. For example, interior design and textiles and apparel design
have no options for continued studies. The Drama teacher voiced an interest in working with
Introduction to Construction, Interior Design and Apparel with the music department so students
could have a pathway leading to other dimensions of careers in theatre.
In interviews, students did not see the connection between what they are doing in school and their
future. Several students stated that the only reason they were at school was ―to pass to TAKS.‖ In fact
to be in many of the CTE courses, students must have passed TAKS as a requirement. ―If we pass
during our junior year, we are able to come in two hours later or leave two hours early!‖
Action 1: Set a goal that 2011 graduates (incoming sophomores) will complete either an academic
or a career concentration beyond the core or both. Offer both academic and career concentrations
to provide relevant learning experiences and to allow students to choose an area of interest for in-depth
study. Offer either a Mathematics/Science or a Humanities Concentration with a focus on preparing
students to meet the needs of your community. At a minimum, each academic concentration might
Mathematics/science concentration consists of a minimum of four college-prep mathematics credits
and four college-prep science credits, including at least one credit at the AP level in both mathematics
Humanities concentration consists of four credits each in pre-AP English and social studies, including
at least one course at the AP, and four credits in a foreign language, fine arts, journalism, debate or
additional advanced-level courses in literature, history, economics, psychology or other humanities areas.
Offer at least two types of career concentrations. A career concentration may begin with a project-based
career exploration course and at least three credits in a planned sequence of quality career/technical courses.
At least two of the courses should be equal in content and standards to courses offered at one or more area
colleges and would lead to an employer-recognized credential, associate degree or employer certification.
Have a general concentration with a sequence of three or more courses pulled from the career
concentrations. The general concentration would include at least one career/technical course in each of
grades ten, 11 and 12.
Action 2: Clearly articulate the programs of study for each concentration. Use the AchieveTexas
materials to assist with this action. Have students create and follow a clear plan of study that includes
both academic and career courses for high school as well as the first two year of postsecondary study.
Use the new 4 X 4 requirements along with an academic or career concentration to provide a sequence
of courses including school-based and work-based learning experiences. Define each career/technical
concentration as a series of courses and experiences related to a career. Align the career/technical
courses for grades 11 and 12 to courses at area community colleges. Alignment includes common
course syllabi, common end-of-course exams and standards alignment. If high school career technical
teachers meet standards for teaching at the community college and students meet the academic
placement requirements to enter English and mathematics courses for college credit, work out a system
where students earn college credit.
Action 3: Raise the rigor of each CTE program. Use the HSTW publication Designing Challenging
Vocational Courses and ensure the inclusion of 21st Century Skills http://www.21stcenturyskills.org in
Require all CTE programs to align curriculum with state and industry standards and to establish a
system to track academic and technical achievement of students enrolled in CTE programs, based on
state and industry assessments. Project assessment should not be based on the finished product(s),
but include a comprehensive written exam to assess if students understand technical and academic
Set expectations for instructors to develop a course syllabus for every CTE program. The syllabus
should contain eight to 10 major goals as expectations for students to master. It should identify a
series of increasingly complicated projects that students must complete to pass. Organize these
projects so students are required to use academic and technical materials to complete them.
Action 4: Require students to take the appropriate industry certification exam to assess technical
achievement. Ask teachers to develop end-of-course/program exams if there is no industry certification
and validate these exams with local employers. End-of-course/program exams should include:
A written comprehensive exam designed to measure students’ ability to read and interpret technical
materials, apply major mathematics concepts needed to enter and advance in the field and understand
technical concepts in the course.
An open-ended project and assessment of students’ ability to think through and approach the project
and apply appropriate technology to complete it. The project may also include an external evaluation.
Career/Technical Student Organization (CTSO) activities and competitive events are effective
sources for projects.
An oral exam involving persons from the community as part of the examination process. Students
would have to make a presentation on a completed project or be queried by an external group for a
period of 30 to 45 minutes to see if they are able to articulate understanding of the field, using
Action 5: Increase academic integration in CTE programs. MHS has a strong Agriculture
program. Consider implementing Agricultural Algebraic Extensive Exploration (A2E2 ). A2E2 is
designed to integrate fundamental concepts of Algebra with real-life situations. This will enable
students to become more successful with mathematics, by making math more approachable and by
showing how it is useful in everyday situations. The course is an elective, where students will earn
credit toward graduation requirements by getting an Agriculture-Science credit. This special course
will work in conjunction with the regular Algebra I course in order to ensure success on the 9th grade
TAKS test. Contact Debbie Thompson at Mount Pleasant High School firstname.lastname@example.org
To help address the math deficiencies on state assessments, have all math teachers work closely with
C/T teachers to embed high level mathematics in each CTE course. Teams of math and C/T teachers
should attend the training on embedding mathematics and develop integrated projects that do so.
Establish expectations for students to read technical materials and use technical writing in all C/T
courses. Students must learn to read and write in the format used in the technical field in order to be
successful in the field.
Action 6: Expand work-based learning opportunities that are meaning and relevant to their
pathways by creating virtual or school enterprise opportunities. Currently, students may or may not
have a job and be part of this course. Virtual or school-based enterprises are effective educational tools
in helping to prepare students for the transition from school to work or college. For many students,
they provide the first work experience; for others, they provide an opportunity to build management,
supervision and leadership skills. These enterprises can offer students opportunities to develop an
understanding of the kinds of work done in today’s workplace. Students may be involved in ―all
aspects of the business‖ and can rotate among the various positions and tasks involved in the
designated business venture. Students have opportunities to work with teachers and business leaders
who can serve as mentors. Opportunities for school-based enterprises are limited only by the
Create school-based enterprises such as a spirit store operated by the marketing class, school
bank operated by a finance class, a nursery operated by the agricultural program and others
related to local career options. School-based enterprises provide students opportunities to
utilize basic academic skills,
gain experience in a work-related environment,
work as a team member,
develop leadership skills,
work with the teacher/coordinator and the advisory board to develop policies and procedures
for the operation of an enterprise,
become familiar with technology used in business, and
develop an understanding of the economic system and its impact on society.
For guidance on how to develop a quality work-based learning program, see the Jobs for the Future’s
publication, Learning Through Work Designing and Implementing Quality Worksite Learning for High
School Students available at www.jff.org. or Guide For Starting and Managing School-Based
Enterprises available at http://www.schoolbasedenterprises.org/pdf/SBEGuide.pdf
Action 7: Educate teachers, parents, counselors and students of career/technical opportunities.
The current system for grade point averages and class ranking does not allow CTE courses to be part of
the advanced points. CTE courses that provide dual credit or Tech Prep State Articulated College
credits should enable these courses to also be included. By hosting Open Houses and CTE Fairs to
advertise what CTE courses are doing the old concept of vocational will be eliminated. The more
information provided will start a conversation on the benefits of CTE courses.
Career/technical certifications and credentials
A+ Computer Certification, Computing Technology Industry Association, www.comptia.org
Association of Building Contractors (ABC) for carpentry, construction and electricity, www.abc.org
American Welding Society (AWS), (800) 443-9353, www.aws.org
Certiport Internet and Computing Core Certification (IC³), www.certiport.com
Cisco Networking, www.cisco.com
Microsoft Office User Specialist (MOUS), Microsoft Corporation, www.microsoft.com
National Institute of Metalworking Skills (NIMS) for machine technology, http://www.nims-
Career/technical student organizations
Business Professional of America (BPA), Columbus, Ohio, 800-334-2007, www.bpa.org
Family, Community and Career Leaders of America (FCCLA), Reston, Va., (703) 476-4900,
Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), Reston, Va., (800) 325-2946, www.fbla.org
National DECA (Marketing), Reston, Va., (703) 860-5000, www.deca.org
National FFA, Indianapolis, Ind., (317) 802-6060, www.ffa.org
SkillsUSA, Leesburg, Va., (703) 777-8810, www.skillsusa.org
Technology Student Association (TSA), Reston, Va., (703) 860-9000 or www.tsaweb.org
Career/technical programs, revising
Jo Kister, consultant, email@example.com or (614) 451-1306
DECA School-based Enterprises http://www.schoolbasedenterprises.org/
Project Lead the Way, Carolyn Helm, SREB, (706) 499-5011
Virtual Enterprises, Amsterdam Avenue .New York, NY 10023 .Phone: 212-769-2710
The fourth challenge is shift guidance and advisement to a college and career readiness focus.
The TA team has concerns that the current focus is on support and too few students are being pushed
to prepare for post-secondary success. The team heard from multiple sources that there is a belief that
MHS students are not academically able. Unfortunately, this has rubbed off on students as several
indicated they did not see themselves as college material. Counselors from feeder schools indicated
that they did not know what students needed to graduate from high school. Several seniors
interviewed by the TAV team did not know what they wanted to do after graduating from high school.
Many had not even considered the possibility of post secondary opportunities. Seniors interviewed
stated, ―No one encourages us to belong to anything, you just have to look for it yourself. If students
are shy or don’t know what they want, I think they’re the ones who just disappear.‖ Very few parents
participate in activities on the campus outside of the athletic events. They reported not being part of
the scheduling process unless they made the effort to discuss it with their student.
Action 1: Make a college and career success the basis of all conversations with students and
parents. Counselors should emphasize the importance of senior level math and science for all seniors.
Incorporate lessons on college and career readiness into the advisory program. Involve faculty in an
analysis of the data provided by PSAT to determine strengths and areas for growth. Involve students
in discussions and develop a plan to get more students to take the SAT/ACT. Collect, analyze and
communicate post-secondary success data. Develop a system of tracking student postsecondary
success rates by following those students who go from high school to college and those who transfer
from one institution to another. Invite graduates to return and talk to underclassmen about college and
Action 2: Implement a comprehensive advisement system involving all stakeholders. A
comprehensive guidance and advisement system involves far more than just the advisory sessions.
Have as goals for every student to connect with an adult and connect with a goal beyond high school.
The third goal is to connect parents t he school in a meaningful way. Since students at-risk are already
mentoring students, providing a modified schedule (20-30 minutes) allow for meeting twice a month
would ensure students are monitored. Use this guidance focus team/cadre to lead in the development of
a comprehensive system, including an expanded role for teacher as advisers. The cadre should provide
faculty with extensive training for their roles and coordinate all aspects of the advisement system.
Birdville HS (TXEN mentor site) has an excellent format to investigate. Contact Phyllis Scott at
Phyllis_Scott@birdville.k12.tx.us for more information. Refer also to the SREB/ HSTW publication
Guidance and Advisement: Influences on Students' Motivation and Course-taking Choices at
Conduct advisory sessions, using the curriculum provided by the team/cadre.
Offer a series of lessons on guidance-related issues during these sessions, such as goal-setting,
career exploration, study skills, post-secondary opportunities, or preparing a resume. Have a
counselor or teacher create lessons and distribute materials to advisers.
Meet regularly with each advisee to review academic progress, determine problems that need to be
addressed and refer advisee for extra assistance as needed.
Review progress reports, grade cards and other achievement data prior to sending them to parents.
Maintain year-long contact with parents through written and telephone communications.
Action 3: Create a ―programs of study guide‖ that clearly articulates career clusters,
concentrations and course sequences for each concentration. Develop multiple academic and career
concentration options tied to AchieveTexas. This is an essential piece to help students and parents
understand what students need to do to prepare for after-high school goals. It is also an invaluable tool
for counselors and teachers as they work with students to prepare their four-eight year plans.
All students should have a clearly outlined program of study for high school and counselors/
administrators should ensure students’ access to appropriate courses to ensure they meet the HSTW-
recommended core and concentration. Require students to use the booklet when reviewing their plan of
Action 4: Begin to hold conversations early with the eighth and ninth-grade parents about what
students need to do to be successful at Midland High School. Beginning in the spring semester,
guidance counselors need to schedule visits to meet with current eighth and ninth graders and their
parents about high school expectations. Small working sessions would allow students and parents to
ask questions. These conversations need to include thinking about college early, four- to six-year
plans, transition programs available, and organizations and clubs students can join to be an active part
of high school.
Action 5: Have students complete AND USE a six-year plan that details their program of study
for high school and two years after graduation. Use your plans to revise the four-year plan to create
a six year plan that includes the first two years of college for all students. Set expectations for all
incoming sophomores to complete the plan and use it to guide annual meetings with parents. Use the
recently implemented Bridges software to prepare students for the completion of the plan and keep the
plan in electronic format.
A Model Comprehensive, Developmental Guidance and Counseling Program: A Guide for Program
Development Pre K-12th Grade available from TEA at
Guidance materials Advisory lessons
Chicago Public Schools, lessons for 30 weeks (9-12) http://intranet.cps.k12.il.us/Lessons/Advisory/
Education Alliance, Brown University (2003). Changing Systems of Personalized Learning: The Power of
The final challenge is for MHS to develop a comprehensive support system that addresses
three specific areas: strengthening transition from ninth-grade to high school, providing
support to struggling students and making the senior year challenging to better prepare
graduates for postsecondary study or the workplace.
Ninth to Tenth Grade Transition
One sophomore stated, ―I didn’t have any idea what to do and I still don’t know who my counselor
is.‖ Although MHS attempts to acquaint the upcoming tenth-graders with the transition to the high
school through Dawg Days where athletics and student organizations set up booths to recruit
students, more needs to be done to acquaint incoming sophomores to high school life.
Students in danger of failing the TAKS exam have a mentor. However, there is no scheduled time
to check on the students. ―Unless they are already in our classes, it’s hard to check on them.‖
The structure in Midland of having separate ninth grade campuses creates an additional transition if
the high school does not work closely with the feeder middle and ninth grade schools. Despite this
fact, high school teachers do not meet regularly with feeder school teachers.
No transition program exists to ease mid-year promotions from MFHS. Students entering MHS mid-year
are force to take semester courses.
Action 1: Develop a system for collecting data to track progress of ninth-and tenth-grade students
Embed the HSTW habits for success in all tenth-grade classes and work with the ninth grade school to
make these integral to their work. In addition, work with the ninth grade campus to find ways to
introduce ninth-graders to more CT programs/requirements and employment opportunities. Faculty should
teach study skills, time management, how to study in teams and how to take class notes as part of the
course standards to help ninth-graders transition to the high school.
Action 2: Develop a sophomore-grade transition program and require students needing
assistance to attend. Help students have a strong start by identifying ninth grade students who
struggle in their freshmen classes before they come to the main high school. Many schools have
adopted a multi-pronged approach to improving the transition into high school. These schools
Develop a summer bridge program to support struggling freshmen, who do not have enough
credits to be promoted and are not prepared for college-preparatory work based on state
assessment and grades from 9th and 10th grade.
o Recruit your best teachers (or teachers from neighboring districts) to create a program
that will focus on:
Reading and Writing Readiness
Computer skills and
Career and Technology
o Develop a schedule that allows for intense hands-on lessons in ELA and Mathematics
(preferably in the morning for two hour sessions). Afternoons could be devoted to
building leadership and computer skills. Use Friday as a field experience day to visit
colleges and business in order to build relevance for the need for academic skills.
Action 3: Create orientation activities for incoming tenth-graders. Allow incoming
sophomores to attend ―meet and greet‖ activities with the upperclassmen belonging to
particular clubs or organization. This will foster a sense of belonging from the first day of
classes. Develop a high school shadowing day that allows rising sophomores to spend a day
with a junior or senior mentor. Incoming sophomores need to know in May that they are
required to attend an orientation camp. Expand Dawg Days by bringing incoming
sophomores by themselves in to school one to three days prior to other students to allow them
to become acclimated to the facility, rules and procedures. Conduct mini-workshops on note-
taking, homework, grading and other topics faculty deem essential.
Action 4: Begin the school year with a set routine to assist sophomores in acclimating to high
school. The first few days can provide a firm foundation for freshmen. Students need to know what
is expected of them in high school. To ensure a smooth transition from junior high to high school
the faculty needs to develop a plan for the routines students need to be successful.
Reserve the first few days of tenth grade for special programs in study skills, explicitly
connecting these skills and the rigorous content of LHS to preparing students for success in
college or other post-secondary training.
Create mathematics and science study teams during which students not only work together in
class but also accept responsibility to help each other learn the materials through emails,
telephone calls and after-school activities.
Develop opportunities for these students to earn high school credit during the summer
prior to their freshmen year. This action allows the students actual enter high school ahead of
other students and it opens up a period for students to participate in double-dosing or other
Institutionalize Habits for Success and AVID strategies across the 10th–grade curricula.
Require teachers to integrate study skills, literacy and numeracy skills, and Habits of Success
into their lesson plans for these grades. The aim is to help students become independent learners
and learn how to help each other learn. Many students have never been a member of a study
Hold student/parent/community meetings to explain why the curriculum is being
strengthened and the positive impact this will have upon students. Be certain to involve middle
school students/parents in this process.
Action 5: Establish a tenth grade academy or small learning community to ensure student
success through personalization.
Review the master schedule and recruit teachers to be a part of the tenth grade team. Get the
best teachers to teach tenth grade core content areas.
Organize tenth grade students into a series of learning communities consisting of 125 to 150
students with an instructional team that includes mathematics, English, science, social studies
and computer/technology teachers. Make sure teacher teams meet weekly for horizontal
curriculum alignment, to review student work, make parent contacts, etc.
Create a schedule that provides a double dose of English, mathematics and science to students
who enter high school not having met standards on the state assessments, including students
who do not have enough credits to be a sophomore. Students would take an 18-week catch-up
course, and then enroll in college-preparatory Algebra I, English Nine and science the second
Provide common planning time that equals at least one day per month for ninth-grade teachers
to meet and devise challenging, connected learning experiences.
Develop a plan to introduce the school’s philosophy to every incoming student, especially
entering ninth graders
o Reserve the first few days of tenth grade for special programs in study skills, explicitly
connecting these skills and the rigorous content of LHS to preparing students for success in
college or other post-secondary training
o Assign every student to a study team. During those first days, train them in how to work
together and how to support each other’s productive academic and cognitive behaviors.
o Have each advisor meet with each student individually for an hour each week for the first
six weeks in school to review class performance and any other issue affecting
o Include a study skill component in every sophomore course. One might address note-
taking; another one, techniques to master new vocabulary.
Action 6: Create a ―Freshmore‖ program and reduce the ratio of students to teachers for
these students who do not successfully finish the ninth grade. Place these students in a
separate SLC from those who were successful as freshmen. Use the Habits for Success or AVID
strategies embedded in all core courses taught first semester. Course work should include
At least one C/T course each year. Giving at-risk students access to quality C?T
programs each year dramatically increases the likelihood these students will stay in
Develop specialized catch-up courses aimed at accelerating learning and teach these
courses in a different way.
Supporting Struggling Students
Increasing expectations and creating opportunities for students to re-do work will require teachers
to provide students with support for success. Too often these program of support are left to the
individual teacher, rather than a comprehensive effort to support all students. The team
recommends the following actions to create a comprehensive program of support.
Action 1: Have a team of teachers work together to create a structured system of extra help
and require struggling students to participate. A school needs a structured system of extra help
to close achievement gaps and teach all students to high standards. Include a well-defined referral
process and a way to measure the progress of students who seek extra help. Students who perform
poorly on standardized tests at most-improved HSTW sites are required or strongly encouraged to
attend mathematics or reading labs, schedule extra sessions with a mathematics or a reading
specialist, and/or enroll in a non-credit catch-up course. To increase opportunities for extra help,
Make attendance at extra-help sessions mandatory for students with an average of C or below in
a course. Provide extra help through tutoring, labs, structured peer tutoring, a credit recovery
program, double-dosing and summer school. Recruit volunteer tutors from the community,
business partners, colleges and civic and church organizations. Develop a specific schedule for
tutoring and inform students and parents of the dates and times.
Investigate the use of online assistance programs for students to master material and recover
credits. Many software developers have linked their programs to state standards and are good
resources for extra help and review. Open computer labs after school for students to receive
help from teachers in specific content areas. Some schools use the labs for assistance in the core
subjects of English, mathematics, science and social studies. Students can also do homework
and writing assignments in the labs.
Create mathematics, science and English study teams at all grade levels and get the teams to
work together on assignments two or three times a week in a supervised area.
Use grade-level teams or administrative and counseling teams to develop an intervention plan
for students who are in danger of failing a course. Identify students early in the semester. Notify
parents, meet with students and parents, and develop a contract to guarantee that the student, his
or her parents and the teacher will do whatever it takes to increase the student’s performance.
Prescribe specific extra-help strategies based on the student’s needs. These strategies take the
form of homework center participation, extra-help periods and learning labs. Follow the
Action 2: Consider building an extra help time into the regular school day. Building extra
help into the school day gives teachers the ability to require students to attend and sends the
messages that helping a student succeed is important. Many schools combine the time with other
initiatives such as sustained silent reading and advisement.
Challenging Senior Year
As in most schools in Texas, due to the TAKS focus, several seniors view the senior year as a year
of entitlement—pass TAKS and ―I can come in two hours late or leave early.‖ Research shows that
based on the rigor of the curriculum taken in high school, particularly the senior year, students must
experience a rigorous senior year to avoid developmental courses in post secondary venues. Data
noted in the gaps section indicated that 41 percent are college ready in both language arts and math.
Action 1: Arrange with Midland College (MC) to administer their placement exams to
juniors. Use the results to determine which students are and are not ready for college-level work.
Use the individual results to plan student schedules for the senior year. Use the results to determine
which students are and are not ready for college-level work.
Enroll students who pass the placement exam into dual/ concurrent enrollment courses. Most
students who pass the exam can earn three to nine college credits during the senior year and be
better prepared for postsecondary education.
Enroll seniors, expecting to go to college, who fail the placement exam into readiness/support
courses or catch-up courses.
Enroll students who do not plan to pursue in postsecondary studies in a program that leads to
employer certification that can be earned at the end of high school or at least well-begun by
graduation. Try to get a commitment from students and parents to finish the certification with a few
months of graduation.
Action 2: Require students to complete a senior project as a culminating and extension of
what they learned in their high school program of study and concentration in the form of an
independent study or internship. The senior project should include a research paper, a product or
service, and an oral presentation. Require all students to complete the senior project and align it
with his/her pathway. MHS could go further and have students start their project as freshmen in the
form of a Quality Seminar. Students could use sessions of a two-hour/week ―project block‖ to
develop and deepen this into the major item in a portfolio for admission into college or advanced
For freshman English: Renee Murray, (859) 296-9393, firstname.lastname@example.org
For freshman mathematics: Leslie Texas, (502) 499-6011, email@example.com
For senior English: Renee Murray, SREB, (859) 296-9393 firstname.lastname@example.org , Elizabeth Bailey,
(662) 494-6219, email@example.com
For senior mathematics, Pam Fails, SREB, (512) 414-0150, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ninth-grade transition programs
Renee Murray, SREB, (859) 296-9393, email@example.com
Jan Struebing, Springdale HS, Ark., (479) 750-8726, (479) 236-3164, firstname.lastname@example.org
Carol Mettlin, HSTW Site Coordinator at Diboll High School 1000 Lumberjack Diboll, TX 75941 (936)
Pam Brown, Lubbock-Cooper ISD 16302 Loop 493 Lubbock, TX 79423 (806) 863-1221
Senior year, strengthening
Renee Murray, (859) 296-9393, email@example.com
Janie Smith, SREB (912) 635-2081, firstname.lastname@example.org
Small learning communities (SLCs)
Linda Dove, SREB, (404) 875-9211, email@example.com
Saralyn Richard, (409) 744-2811, firstname.lastname@example.org
Heather Boggs Sass, SREB, (614) 847-5832, email@example.com