School’s growth, achievement place it at the top


Sophia Farrow, Associate Editor

Making the grade: Manteo High School earned an A+ for the 2016-2017 school year, the first “A” given to a school in Dare County. Earning this grade ranks the school in the top three percent of high schools in North Carolina.

To obtain an A+ grade, the school’s combination of academic growth and achievement must equal 85 percent. A lot of factors go into the academic growth and achievement. The school put a big focus on the overall scores of the Math 1, English 10 and Biology End of Course exams and the ACT last year.

“I’m excited for the community, the staff and the students [that we got the rating of A+],” principal John Luciano said. “It’s incredible really. Very few public schools have it.”

Last years’ English 10 teachers Kassie Mount and Joanne Juco were given a goal to reach as the school worked toward this rating: the goal was for 72 percent of English 10 students to pass their exam with a three or higher.

“We surpassed our goal by 10 percent! Eighty-two percent of 10-grade students passed the English II EOC last year! This was a 15 percent increase from the year before,” Mount said. “When I found out that we had exceeded our goal, I felt immense pride. I am so proud of my students and their persistence. I am so proud of our faculty’s strengths. I am so proud of what we all accomplished by working together.”

Throughout the year Mount met with Luciano and English I teacher Lea Dixon to figure out how much extra help each student needed based on the data available to them. They utilized EVAAS, which stands for Education Value-Added Assessment System.

“The data we get from EVAAS identifies how every student in the school is expected to perform on the EOC based on previous school year assessments. We can even use this data to place students with specific reading instructors who come up with interventions that will work most effectively with each child’s weaknesses,” Dixon said. “EVAAS identifies the weaknesses for us, so that we can create an individual plan to grow every student on campus.”

EVAAS is a student achievement predictor that helped the teachers know what classes each student needed to be in. Along with the help of Necy Morris, the online class teacher, the English II teachers were able to create a Read Theory Intervention Time, which helped to strengthen student’s reading skills.

“The plans that we put into place during Intervention Time last year played a crucial role in students’ success on the English 10 EOC. Many students were assigned to IT with Ms. Morris in order to gain extra practice with reading skills through Read Theory,” Mount said. “Also, a majority of students met with me at least once each week to practice EOC-style passages and question sets. Having extra exposure to the test’s vocabulary and extra time to practice thinking through those types of questions ahead of time really helped students on test day.”

Biology teachers Lisa Serfling and Patricia Holland offered tutoring nearly every day last year for students who needed extra help in their class. Not only was tutoring offered after school and during intervention time, but Saturday school was also an option.

“Biology students worked very hard to master the concepts necessary for them to do well on the Biology EOC. Many of them came to after school and Saturday review session for extra help and reinforcement. Mrs. Serfling and I are very proud of our students and their accomplishments on the Biology EOC,” Holland said.

Student mentoring played a role in the Math 1 EOC scores. In May, AP classes and Honors Math 3 classes worked during EOC season to tutor individuals on the EOC practice test questions. During this time students would practice old Math 1 EOCs while receiving assistance from their tutors.

“We work to set a team approach in our classrooms and encourage a growth mindset for all students. Math can be challenging for students but the success students can feel in the classroom is so rewarding,” math teacher Liz Brown said. “We have a great group of  math teachers here at MHS and a really great group of students who work hard.”

Math students worked in hybrid classes using online tools such as MyOpenMath and These websites let students learn in different scenarios and find what worked best for them. Some students worked best with peer tutoring, so students from Math 1 up to BC Calculus were invited to attend Mathlete sessions led by the club’s president, senior Everett Meekins. From October on, Meekins and other mathletes pushed students to the next level of learning – working on contest problems, teaching higher level concepts and challenging students to rise above the state curriculum.

“All students are encouraged and set their goal to grow from where they started in the beginning of the year to where they land in June in May. Proficiency is important, of course, but keeping the students focused on growing their own skills is the most important measure,” Brown said.

The school earned a “B” with a school performance grade of 81 during the 2015-2016 school year. The goals for the 2016-2017 school year were made from those results.

The ACT includes five sections: English, math, science, reading and writing, and an average score of 17 has to be achieved on all of these to have a 70 percent passing rate for the school. To improve the school’s average scores ACT practice questions were mandated every day with a different subject in mind.

“When we started out [last year] most people thought we had high expectation goals but we were able to achieve them because we set our sights high. That is a good lesson to all students, setting your goals higher than you think you can achieve will help you succeed in the long run,” Luciano said.

This school year, one goal is clear: keep up the A+. With the immense pride the grade has given the school’s faculty, students and community, teachers and administrators are working to uphold this honor.

“The bar is set high for this year,” Luciano said. “We want a repeat [of an A+] because it was great we got it one year but the true test of us being a great school is to make this a consistent grade.”