A high school with a Middle States Certification is considered an excellent one. Schreiber High School undergoes the Middle States Certification process every seven years. Recently, Assistant Principal David Miller presented to the board of education a third update on this process.
The goal of Middle States is to raise the level for all students with a special focus on the middle and lower tier academic achievers. It starts with a comprehensive review on what needs to be improved and then setting goals. "By working to achieve these goals we maximize the potential of every student in school," explained Assistant Principal David Miller. "This process is about continuous self-improvement and if you look at the broad scale of initiatives taking place at Schreiber this spirit is evident."
At Schreiber the input of students, teachers, parents and administrators was sought with meetings and surveys. This led to a goal-setting process and then an action plan. "This process is the work of the entire school community," said Miller. "Our dedication to this process is the result of Mr. Lewis' leadership as our building principal. Myself and Lauren Giliof act not just as presenters but as the Internal Coordinators of the process. We do all the planning and coordination. We then communicate and work with an Implementation Team that is comprised of teachers, parents, administrators, Asst. Supt. for Curriculum and Instruction Dr. Stirling and BOE V.P Mrs. Karen Sloan."
Miller discussed three objectives, the first being academic: By the year 2014 students at Schreiber High School will demonstrate academic improvement by earning an increased number of advanced Regents diplomas, an increase in the number of students achieving mastery on Regents examinations and an increase in enrollment in elective courses. "We have set lofty goals for mastery levels, 85 percent or better, on Regents exams and on the percentage of students who earn Advanced Regents Diplomas," said Miller. A detailed analysis of questions that students get wrong will help teachers in their instruction. "The work being done towards our academic objectives is comprehensive in nature and the wonderful thing about it is that it was generated as part of collegial effort on the part of teachers and administrators," said Miller. The development of curriculum guides and curriculum mapping is part of the plan. This involves teachers at the high school level being made aware of what was previously taught in the lower grades.
Part of this objective is to encourage students to take electives such as technology. The action plan involves fairs that show students and their parents the different options in electives. Unfortunately, because of budget constraints not all students can take their first elective choice. To help students with study and organizational skills the writing center with peer tutoring has been highly successful said Miller. Students will now be able to be selected for honor societies in each subject area. There has been an expansion of the Senior Experience, a community service program where students get credit for their efforts. Princeton Review courses don't cost the district a dime said Miller and are available free to students who cannot afford to pay. Part of this objective includes professional development, which is ongoing at least two hours a month for all the high school teachers.
Objective two concerns informational literacy, integrated into all subject areas, which starts with the ability to analyze source material. Students will be taught to search for and find information and also do presentations. The objective states: By the year 2014, Schreiber High School students will gain proficiency in information literacy as measured by grade level assessments of information literacy standards. "Our initiatives to improve Information Literacy are cutting edge and very exciting," said Miller. Middle States told Schreiber that they were watching our work on this objective very closely as we are acting as a bit of a standard bearer in this area. Work in this area includes creating Information Literacy Standards, conducting grade level assessments and then enhancing curriculum to raise the bar. Teachers have spent a great deal of time augmenting their curriculum maps to foster these critical skills."
Objective three is: By the year 2014 Schreiber High School students will show an improved understanding of integrity, conduct and civic responsibility. Miller was pleased with the results of the bi-annual school climate survey that showed that students were very positive. "Enhanced Club Fair Day presentations and exhibits have led to increased participation in extracurricular activities," said Miller. There have been requests for even more clubs and activities that cannot be fulfilled due to limited funding.
Expanded STEPS (Success through Educational Alternatives, Personal Initiatives and Social Support) Program for at-risk ninth-/10th-/11th-/12th-grade students shows promise. A more formalized computer-generated process of tracking disciplinary assignments in order to work with staff and students has been developed. A new initiative is the parent education program and college workshops for Spanish-speaking parents. A recycling program has been initiated. Genocide Awareness Day was conducted last year.
"Character education is critically important to the mission of our institution and Middle States has provided a renewed focus for that mission," said Miller. "Work is being done on so many levels: new assembly programs, a new and highly successful student of the month program and the senior options program that stresses community service as well as the new community service fair are all examples of this commitment to character education." Character education strands have been incorporated within curriculum maps.