MPS Graduation Rate Tops Cumberland County

Millville Public School Graduation Rate Tops Cumberland County
Posted on 04/01/2017
Recently, the New Jersey Department of Education released graduation rates. We were elated to see that our students and staff have continued their upward movement. In 2013, 82 percent of our students graduated. Now, we have reached 90 percent.

We attribute the success to our long-range commitment to being able to answer a few simple questions. First, what do we do when students aren’t learning the desired content? Our RTI Process, or Response to Intervention approach, answers this question. It identifies students early in the learning process by using simple benchmarks; if students are struggling, the staff intervenes. We have amazing teachers who are serving in this capacity across the district as RTI teachers. This investment in helping struggling learners has really started to pay off. We have to be able to help students early when they aren’t quite getting it.

Second, how do we create an environment dedicated to learning and embracing life-long learning? This comes by providing many different interesting learning paths that students can pursue.We are dedicated to helping our students learn how they learn best. We help the students understand that there are multiple ways to be “smart”. We attempt to challenge, engage, and support our students through having exceptional curriculum, teachers and staff. Over the last 7 years we have focused on Classroom Instruction that Works as our instructional model. Classroom Instruction that Works, or CITW, is an instructional model that was created at McRel and is grounded in years of researching teachers. They have determined what great teachers do differently. We developed a process of walkthrough observations to capture information about what is going on in each classroom. This information is then given to teachers and their teams for their use.The data helps teachers make sometimes just subtle changes in their approach, at other times the data may highlight the need for bigger change. Our staff has done an amazing job of embracing the instructional model and dedicating themselves to becoming better. Our focus has been on helping our staff become world class; our thought was student outcomes would follow. It appears this theory was correct.

Third, what can we do differently or better in order to get better results for our students? We adopted the mindset of continuous improvement several years ago. We trained our leadership and teacher leadership teams in using a systems approach to problem solving. In every situation, we attempt to figure out how we can improve in all areas.

There are no silver bullets to improving our public schools. It takes time, dedication, and a commitment to stay the course. Too often in education, we change to the latest promised solution. In Millville, we believe our number one resource is our staff. Instead of chasing new programs we instead focus on creating an environment for teachers and staff members to approach their work in a clinical manner. We encourage innovation and risk-taking.

All too often we get hyper focused on state test results or other standard measures. While state assessments provide information, that is all they provide. I do not believe that state assessments should carry so much weight in determining the quality of a school, student, or teacher. Instead, I believe there are multiple ways for students to demonstrate understanding and growth. Our students in Millville are amazing. They have dreams, hopes, and aspirations that cannot be summarized simply in one state assessment score.

The increased graduation rate is one of the measures that I feel shows the district’s commitment to continuous improvement and growth. We hope that someday 100% of our students will find their path and graduate. What they decide to do after high school is completely up to them. For some, traditional university or college study may be in order. For others, a community college start may be best. And yet for others, pursuing a trade school or other work-readiness program.We simply want all of our students to have options at the end of their high school careers. More importantly, we want them to know how to problem solve and work collaboratively with others. The future is uncertain, what is known is that the world will need employees who can solve complex problems and work well with others.

Congratulations to our students and staff for achieving 90 percent! — Dr. David Gentile Superintendent of the Millville Public School
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