The RTI Center for Education Services (CES) partnered with Montgomery County Early College during its inaugural year (2017-2018) to assist in the development of a school-wide culture of collaboration and provide instructional support for project-based learning. CES continues to provide instructional, leadership and peer networking support with similarly situated innovative high schools.
RTI's support contributed to the following outcomes in student achievement growth at Montgomery County Early College, based on 2019 results:
- School achievement score: 7.5 percentage point growth, from 84.5 to 92
- Overall school performance score: 6 percentage point growth, from 88 to 94
- Expansion of a project-based learning approach, grounded in collaborative inquiry, across core academic and elective courses
In this post, originally published on EdNC, reporter Rupen R. Fofaria details the impact of a student-centered approach to building learner agency and developing school culture.
In a school designed to teach students to take ownership over their future, the first graduating class at Montgomery County Early College (MCEC) have gone beyond that — helping also to establish the school’s culture and start new traditions.
“Our students have just gone out and made themselves a part of this campus,” MCEC principal Heather Seawell said. “It’s a college and it’s a high school, but our students aren’t just tucked away in their own space. It’s a community, and they make themselves very much a part of it.”
A school culture built by students
When MCEC was established on the campus of Montgomery Community College in 2016, enrollment consisted of 126 freshmen and sophomores. The only ones who had any experience with a traditional high school were the 60 sophomores.
“At a traditional high school, you push your kids to graduate,” said English teacher Heather Beane. “But our kids are having to step up to another level, really, from day one. And they’re having to fill some really big shoes. And they set their own goals. They’ll come to us and say, we want to do this, this, this, and this.”