Kendrick High School earns national honor for improved academic performance

mrice@ledger-enquirer.comJuly 23, 2013 

Kendrick High School has received a national honor for improving its academic performance.

Kendrick is one of 19 schools in the country and the only one in Georgia among the 2013 Outstanding High Schools That Work, selected by the Southern Regional Education Board.

"The teachers work very hard," said Kendrick principal Alonzo James. "They put in a lot of hours in terms of working with the kids."

Kendrick increased the percentage of its students meeting or exceeding the state standards on the following End of Course Tests from 2011-12 to 2012-13:

• Ninth-grade literature: 64 to 76.

• American literature: 80 to 87.

• Biology: 53 to 66.

• Physical science: 54 to 71.

• U.S. history: 52 to 69.

• Economics: 63 to 68.

No math comparisons were made because the state implemented a new math curriculum last year, James said.

"This school has shown what can be accomplished to raise student achievement by deeply implementing the HSTW model for strengthening curriculum and instruction," Gene Bottoms, SREB senior vice president, said in a news release. "The school illustrates the spirit of change that High Schools That Work advocates to get students ready for postsecondary studies and careers."

James has led Kendrick's turnaround in two years as principal after three at Eddy Middle School. The 15-year educator told the Ledger-Enquirer three changes laid the foundation for Kendrick's increased achievement:

• Placed students in tiers according to how much they struggled academically so they could receive the appropriate help.

• Implemented positive behavior support, which includes rewards for passing grades, such as celebrations, trips and school-wide recognitions.

• Created more rigorous testing after each unit and before the state's standardized exams, so academic coaches can show teachers which content areas they should review for their students.

The progress also has produced a lower retention rate. In the past year, the percentage of Kendrick students failing ninth grade dropped from 27 to 13, and the percentage failing 10th grade dropped from 28 to 11, James said.

"We're not watering down classes," James said. "We're testing kids very hard."

High Schools That Work is a comprehensive school improvement design based on the premise that most students can master rigorous academic and career/technical studies if school leaders and teachers create a school environment that motivates all students to make the effort to succeed, the release said. More than 1,100 high schools in 30 states and the District of Columbia participate in the school improvement initiative.

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