Osborne, the oldest high school in Cobb, is one of five schools named a Georgia Rewards School by the Georgia Department of Education in October.
The school, which serves about 1,780 students in ninth through 12th grades, was recognized for making “significant academic progress” last school year.
Dale Gaddis, the area assistant superintendent representing Osborne, said he’s worked with the school since 1996 and is very proud of their progress.
“They’ve been able to take the assistance offered by the state and county, manage it well, engage the teachers and the students in taking ownership of their own progress,” he said.
“The greatest difference in the school has been the change in culture and the ownership that students are taking for their own education and how engaged the teachers are in actually promoting student achievement and school success.”
Scores on End-of-Course Tests, which are factored into a student’s final grade, increased significantly.
In Algebra I, scores went up from 21 percent of test takers passing in 2011 to 52 percent in 2012; Biology, 57 to 61; Math I, 51 to 84; American Literature, 77 to 81; Economics, 58 to 74; Ninth Grade Literature, 71 to 74; Math II, 41 to 59; and U.S. History, 44 to 52.
The percentage of students passing the Georgia High School Writing Test also increased from 88 percent in 2011 to 93 percent this year. The average score went up four points from 213 last year to 217 in 2012.
Gaddis said the improvements have been developing for years.
“They don’t treat symptoms, they are actually treating problems,” he said. “As a group, the teachers and staff work with the school community, engaging more parents in the education process and the community at large. I think that’s one of the more critical things that has created an ownership and pride that wasn’t there before.”
He also said he expects the progress to continue because it’s the focus of the school community.
“The leadership there and the staff there have been very strategic and methodical in the plans that they have made,” Gaddis said.
Josh Morreale, who became Osborne’s principal in 2011, said the relationship and support from the state and county was a “good one.”
“It wasn’t them coming in and trying to run our school,” he said about Osborne being under State-Directed Status. “They were here to hold us accountable for what we were trying to do.”
Other administrators at Osborne said they’ve noticed the change in the students, staff and school community as well.
“We have awesome teachers who work really hard to support our students,” said Jennifer Glendenning, who heads up curriculum and has been an educator at Osborne for 27 years. “We have content specific data teams to work with student achievement. Students have done their share as well to go above and beyond in preparing for the assessments. I think it’s a combination of everything.”
Assistant Principal Lisa Williams, who has been at Osborne for eight years, said the positive change was also due to a change in the school’s climate and culture.
“Students are becoming more involved, wanting to be a part of organizations and clubs,” she said. “They want to be a part of the change, not just in the building as a student, but seeing ways they can become more involved in their education.”
Morreale said the continued success is due to help from individuals at the district level, including Superintendent Michael Hinojosa, Gaddis and Cheryl Hungerford, Cobb’s deputy superintendent of leadership and learning.
Hinojosa said that while district administrators helped, he believes the school staff and students deserve most of the credit.
“The fact that they had a sense of urgency, a good leader and team, that’s the biggest formula for their success,” he said. “They understood they had some issues and didn’t hide from it.”
Hungerford said it’s a “big deal” to see success like Osborne has experienced from last year to this year and that when schools are having problems they try to work very closely with them to find whatever resources are available.
“Gaddis has worked very closely with the school, and these results didn’t just happen over night,” she said. “There were planned efforts, garnered resources and additional support including professional learning to make sure the teachers had the skills to make sure their students are successful.”