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Liberty High School Receives 4-Star SPF Ranking | Education & Schools

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Liberty High School Receives 4-Star SPF Ranking
Liberty High School Receives 4-Star SPF Ranking

By Alyssa Laiacona, Editor-in-Chief, Liberty Tribune

On May 24, the Clark County School District (CCSD) released rankings for every high school through the School Performance Framework (SPF), a program that rates schools on factors beyond student achievement and test scores.

Liberty received a four-star ranking and fell just two points shy of a five-star ranking, the highest achievement possible. Rankings are determined by a point system in which four key performance indicators are evaluated: graduation rates, college and career readiness, academic growth and school climate.

“Right now the only way to assess a school is by Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), which only looks at how many kids pass the proficiency junior year,” Liberty Principal Jeffrey Geihs said. “The SPF looks at that, but also looks at the number of kids enrolled in AP classes, the number of kids passing AP tests, the climate surveys that students, parents and teachers take, the graduation rate, the achievement gap and also the enrollment in regular credit-bearing classes as opposed to remedial classes.”

Geihs attributes the school’s high ranking to the many proactive programs Liberty has enacted during his tenure such as the high number of students taking AP classes/exams and the Freshman Academy. The most recent process is the push to increase proficiency amongst underclassmen and to remove remedial classes.

To increase proficiency success, a practice test will be given to all freshmen. Any students found to be deficient will automatically be enrolled in a gear-up proficiency class as an elective in their sophomore year to ensure they pass the test.

Remedial classes are also being eliminated to push students to higher-level classes. From there, kids who are struggling will receive individual support from their teachers and a separate team of teachers as well.

“I think the overall goal is removing remedial classes, pushing kids up to rigorous levels and then if they struggle, finding other ways to support them other than a remedial section. If you put kids in remedial sections or classes they get pigeonholed there and they never get out,” Geihs said.

To assist struggling students and by extension push the school to achieve the five-star rating, more teams of teachers will be created, similar to the Freshmen Academy. With teaming, teachers are not selected to teach just their subject; they’re also responsible for other student deficiencies in other subjects.

Through the implementation of the Freshmen Academy for the 2011-2012 school year, teachers were able to reduce the number of students receiving F’s, reduce the number of classroom referrals to the dean’s office, increase the collective grade point average and increase attendance rate.

In the future, Geihs plans to continue the Freshmen Academy and include sophomores in the mix.

“If you ask an elementary school teacher what they teach, they’re going to say they teach second grade children or third grade children. If you ask a high school teacher what they teach, they’re going to say English, math or social studies,” Geihs said.

“There’s a big difference in the thinking. High school teachers think of themselves as subject area teachers; elementary teachers think of themselves as teaching children. With teaming, I’m asking high school teachers to think of themselves as teaching children. You have to be a master in your subject, but you’re there to teach kids.”

Schools that received a four or five-star ranking have the opportunity to receive benefits too, such as applying for budget autonomy.

With budget autonomy, the district is less strict when telling schools how to manage the number of teachers, administrators and support staff. Instead, schools are able to fund positions based on what they prefer, rather than what the district mandates.

Since Liberty was only two points away from a five-star ranking, Geihs has had a positive attitude and is already looking towards improving for next year.

“A good organization is never satisfied. If you’re satisfied, you get content. At some point in our life, contentment is OK and healthy, but I don’t think schools as an organization should ever be content. If we’re satisfied and we’re content, we never strive to do greater things for the kids we serve,” Geihs said.

Lastly, Geihs has commended the work of the staff that contributed to Liberty reaching such a high ranking. It was because of their dedication and commitment to the students that such an honor was bestowed upon the school, he said.

“It’s one thing if you’re a school in our surrounding area that gets a four, but we have different challenges at Liberty than some of our schools in this area, and despite those challenges, we are almost a five, just two points shy. If they’re a four and we’re a four, it really shows how hard our teachers are working for our kids and how focused they are,” Geihs said. “I think it’s something to celebrate and be proud of.”



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