As superintendent of Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, my top priority is to ensure that we are providing the best educational opportunities to the 55,000 students who attend our schools. High student achievement and academic growth, provided in a nurturing, caring environment, will help our students reach their full potential and prepare them for college and careers when they graduate from high school.
I’m happy to see that we made strides forward, but we need to continue to improve our results. While much of the state’s data release indicates maintained student outcomes, overall, there are few signs of significant change to student achievement. That is why the district is trying a new approach that will replicate and scale up strategies and ideas taken by schools with recent improvement and a proven record of accomplishment. By honing in on new and the consistent strategies that continually show they are working, I am confident that we will see improvement in the areas being measured under ESSA.
Of the 72 schools in Forsyth County that received a growth status, 72 percent of our schools met or exceeded their growth goals for the 2017-18 school year. Eighteen schools exceeded their growth goals, and 34 met their growth goals. Across the state, 73 percent of schools met or exceeded their growth goals.
Another area of promise, that I am proud of, in 2017-18, 13 of 15 Inspire340 schools either met or exceeded expected growth. Inspire340 provides support to schools within Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools that have the federal designation of being a Priority or Focus school. Inspire340 schools participate in additional professional development, and principals receive focused coaching leadership support. This initiative has become a model for enhanced and targeted support for all schools.
New this year, the state changed its calculation of the 4-year cohort graduation rate. The rate now includes the graduation status of students who transfer into a district behind in credits, so a decrease is to be expected. In 2017-18, seniors in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools graduated at a rate of 84.4%, down slightly from 86.5% in 2016-17. Over time, the district has improved its graduation rate by almost 14 percent, up from 70.8% in 2008. Comparatively, North Carolina recorded a graduation rate of 86.3% in 2017-18.
While the district hoped to meet its goal of a 90% graduation rate by 2018, several high schools already have graduation rates above 90%: Atkins A&T, Early College of Forsyth, Middle College of Forsyth, Mount Tabor, J. F. Kennedy, Reagan, and West Forsyth. Given the unexpected changes in rate calculation, the district is looking to extend the districtwide goal of a 90% graduation rate.
Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools is announcing the launch of three targeted design teams to examine how the district provides support and holds schools accountable for imperative initiatives. The design teams will make recommendations for changes to processes, personnel, and organizational structure to enhance student opportunities for success. Some of the recommendations will be for immediate implementation, while others may have more long-term implications. Each design team has a unique focus expected to result in targeted, differentiated support for all schools:
- Monitoring, Support, and Accountability: Develop a new system for monitoring schools’ implementation of imperative initiatives
- Instruction and Innovation: Develop a new Central Office organizational structure encompassing Instructional Services and Instructional Technology
- Equity, Access, and Acceleration: Develop an improved structure for increased access and acceleration opportunities for all students with a focus on underperforming subgroups
We are fortunate to live in a community that values public education and understands that teaching and training our youth is a shared responsibility. We look forward to seeing the results possible through the efforts of The Peer Project, a professional development initiative, and Project Impact, an early childhood education initiative.
It is vitally important to keep staff members, students, families and the community informed about the progress we're making, district-wide and school by school. The Report Card material included on this website includes information about our successes, our challenges and other information such as class sizes, attendance, school safety, instructional resources, teacher quality and more. You can view a snapshot of any school in the district, or you can see how the district as a whole is performing.
Please take time to review our Report Card information on this website. On behalf of our students, staff and Board of Education, thank you for your support and commitment to Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools.
Beverly Emory, Superintendent