EducationNC Highlights South Rowan High School’s Culture Shift
May 29, 2019 | Analisa Sorrells | EducationNC
“Before Kelly Withers arrived at South Rowan High School five years ago, data was nonexistent. That’s according to Assistant Principal Amy Wise, who would know — she’s been at the school for 28 years.
“You would hear the term, and you would think that you were collecting and utilizing data, but pretty much it was not happening,” said Wise. “Teachers pretty much just went in and did what they’ve always done.”
The way things were always done wasn’t Withers’ style. Over the course of her first few years as principal, the school transformed from hardly acknowledging data to weaving it into every single thing it does. According to Wise, and a host of other teachers at the school, it took time, effort, patience, and a lot of strategy — but they can’t imagine where they’d be without that shift.
“Going from five years ago to today, it’s just like we’re a completely different school,” said Wise. “We have purpose now with what we’re doing.”
When Withers arrived at South Rowan High, she shared information with the school’s faculty and staff on what key data points looked like and where they stood on a variety of metrics.
To begin shifting teacher’s mindsets around the role and purpose of data, Withers and her administrative team decided to hold data conferences with every teacher in the building. Teachers were given a presentation template and asked to fill it in with a range of data about themselves and their students — including their own attendance rate, their students’ attendance rate, discipline data, failure rate, and reflections on their strengths and areas for growth.
They were also asked to chart other factors, like how they spent their instructional time and what instructional strategies they used. For example, after tracking time spent on whole group versus small group versus individual work four or five times over the course of a few weeks, teachers assembled pie charts to visualize exactly how they spent their class time.
Then, over the course of three weeks, every teacher presented their findings to Withers and the full administrative team for 30 minutes — a process that was incredibly impactful for Amy Brooks, an English teacher at the school.”