Lynchburg, VA - The Lynchburg City School district is getting graded itself. In three areas, achievement, behavior and culture, the district is improving. Still, administration admits there's always room for improvement.
There's one change: More students signing up for Advanced Placement classes. We're also seeing more As and Bs and fewer Ds and Fs, even the truancy rate has improved. But most exciting of all for administration, the comprehensive plan shows school culture has turned a new page.
To improve, Lynchburg City Schools started with the ABCs: Achievement, Behavior and Culture. First, culture. This year, 35% more parents volunteer in the schools just from last year. Superintendent Scott Brabrand credits the district's "Give Me Five" initiative encouraging parents to volunteer five hours at the school, even donate $5 to the PTO.
"If we invite parents to the table in our schools, they will respond. But, they need to be asked, all parents need to be asked," said Dr. Brabrand.
Stefanie Prokity taught for nine years. Now, she's an education consultant and co-founder of Successful Innovations in Lynchburg. For her, schools have to get parents involved.
"As educators, we need to break away from just being at the school and just expecting parents to be there, and kind of think outside the box and go where parents are," said Prokity.
Educators say change the culture, and achievement and behavior improve too. The numbers prove it.
Compared to last year, students with seven or more unexcused absences dropped 14%. Elementary schools saw a 12.8% hike in As and Bs, as well as a 29.6% drop in Ds, Us, and Fs.
The numbers show success breeding more success.
"Failure after failure demoralizes a kid. And what I think we got so far is more kids tasting success for the first time," said Dr. Brabrand.
The district did change the grading scale. But, the superintendent says, the change is not inflating these grades.
The numbers are exciting. But, the superintendent wants to do even more. For example, he envisions the brand new STEM Academy putting students on a college or career track toward a high paying job.