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Improvements in LCPS has others wanting to know how it was done

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KINSTON, Lenoir County - There was a movie by Michael J. Fox in the late 1980s called "The Secret of My Success." It was about how a young man rose through the ranks of the corporate world in an attempt to reach the top.

That could apply these days to Lenoir County Public Schools because everyone wants to know what has been done to see such drastic improvements in the school system over the past few years. The transformation has been so drastic, officials are going to present next week at a state-wide school accreditation meeting the things that were done to explain the secrets of their success.

Just two years ago, not all of their schools were accredited. Now, by this spring, each school in the Lenoir County Public Schools system will have surpassed state standards. Karen McCarter has been teaching fourth grade at Banks Elementary School in Kinston for 20 years and takes great pride in her work. She has seen a lot of changes, too, especially in the past two years.

"I mean I am a product of Lenoir County Schools as well and believe in it, so I've always tried to do my best for the students," McCarter said. "I think that's important.

"Students changing over the years, so we as teachers and staff and administrators have to make sure we're changing with the times and we're making improvements that they need."

In the short amount of time, Lenoir County Public Schools improved greatly, even slashing the dropout rate by 43 percent.

"We believe that our instruction is moving forward," LCPS Superintendent Brent Williams said. "We're keeping more kids in school, keeping more kids engaged and preparing them effectively for the next level. We are very proud of our improvement efforts."

Williams said he attributes much of that to their investment in teachers and their data-driven instruction.

"I think the biggest progress we've made is in terms of instruction and investing in instruction and keeping that our main consistent focus," Williams said. "We've developed curriculum guides so that everything from scope and sequence statements to pacing guides to formative assessments to a common instructional language.

Now they'll take what they learned and share it with the rest of the state so that other school districts might transform the same way they did. In the meantime, Williams said they will still continue to grow and hope to have even better statistics in the future.

"So we'll share our journey, where we started, what we've done to get to where we are now and some things that might help others," Williams said.

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