Williamston Community Schools elevates its brand by focusing on college readiness

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Emily Bevard

Sign outside of Williamston High School, Williamston Middle School and the public library promoting education

In new efforts to strengthen reputability, Williamston Community Schools has made unprecedented attempts to increase the overall quality of education across the district.

Among these, schools at each level have set high standards, encouraging improvements on both academic and school image levels.

Improvement plan

According to Williamston High School’s improvement plan, the desire to improve students’ college and career readiness remains the top priority.

This proposal outlines a preliminary goal to raise proficiency levels in math, science, social studies, reading and writing to the 60 percent median Student Growth Percentile by June 2020, a 23 percent jump from the national reading proficiency of just 37 percent reported by the National Assessment of Educational Progress in 2018.

As of 2018, Williamston High School demonstrated a 48 percent proficiency rate in mathematics and a 77 percent proficiency in reading based on the previous year’s SAT scores.

Compared to the average achievement reported across the state by the National Assessment of Educational Progress of about 30 percent in mathematics and 50 percent in reading, Williamston High School is currently performing above the expected averages.

Williamston Middle School reimagines student learning

Robert Watson, principal at Williamston Middle School, said changes have already been made at this level to redesign how the classrooms facilitate student learning. Rather than using homework as a major factor in academic success, the school now offers it as practice to further understanding, with assessments making up the whole of their final grades.

“Homework rarely impacts what the students actually learn,” said Watson. “This way, we’re hoping that going into high school our students will have actually obtained the knowledge necessary to succeed.”

Williamston High School works to reach proficiency goals

Likewise, the high school is looking toward various programs providing non-evaluative feedback to teachers and students such as “Teachers Learning Together,” a four-day event providing teachers with the resources to engage and connect with their students. At the end of each year, the schools will also implement surveys and assessments evaluating the comprehension of knowledge obtained.

Each week, faculty are available to help students seeking additional assistance, offering homework labs Monday-Thursday and Saturday school opportunities to make up tests, complete projects or receive extra help, said Michael Walker, a coordinator of the program.

Changes aren’t only being made in academics. Michael Freeman, assistant principal at Williamston High School, said changes need to first be made in the school’s overall appeal to maintain a strong student and faculty presence.

Improving safety

Moving forward, the school is likewise looking to improve safety, designing new security measures requiring a buzzer to enter and exit the school’s office.

“Parents don’t want to send their kids to a school that’s not safe,” said Freeman.

Education as an appealing career

Moreover, he said changes need to be made in the attractiveness of education as a career pathway.

Linda Ereg, a counselor at Williamston High School, underscored this issue, emphasizing how the school itself needs to heighten its appeal to educators. A large group of teachers are already set to retire by the end of this year, and this has raised concerns regarding future staffing.

“People are going to start bailing,” said Ereg. “I don’t know what happened with education and why it started getting such a bad rap.”

As for the future of the Williamston school district, persistence in maintaining a high standard of education will shape the course of future action.

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