CMS: teaching model boosted graduation rate at West Meck

by Tori Hamby

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools officials moved more than $7 million of federal money to pay for a teaching model they say drastically raised a local high school’s graduation rate within a year.

The board shifted $7.3 million to expand its “strategic coaching model” to all the district’s Title I schools, while approving in June the district’s application for federal Title I dollars – extra money provided to schools that have a student poverty level above 75 percent.

West Mecklenburg High’s graduation rate jumped from 58.2 at the end of the 2009-10 school year to 64.1 at the end of the following year. The school implemented the model using money from a federal School Improvement Grant.

Chief Academic Officer Ann Clark said she considers the model to be responsible for West Mecklenburg High School’s increased graduation rate.

Under the model, Clark said, schools bring in a team of specialists in literacy, math, special needs and English-as-second-language. The team works with each teacher to devise specialized lesson plans for underperforming students.

The U.S. Department of Education in late spring waived North Carolina from adhering to certain provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act. The waiver allows board members to put Title I money earmarked to provide students with private tutoring services to fund the strategic coaching model.

School leaders at Title I schools who feel their students benefit from private tutoring will still be able to provide those services using Title I money given to each high-poverty school. Of the $36.5 million in Title I district funding, about $15 million gets split among the district’s 64 Title I schools for administrators to use as they see fit.

“Just as schools make a decision to have Saturday schools and make decisions to have summer programming, they will be able to decide how to best invest those dollars beyond the traditional school day to have the greatest impact on students who are struggling in the school,” Clark said.

The strategic coaching model should reach every struggling student at a Title I school unlike tutoring services, which students must volunteer to use after school hours.

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