JCS Unveils Strategic Plan To Improve Student Achievement

By: Scott Bolejack

By the end of the 2023-24 school year, 100 percent of Johnston County schools will earn a letter grade of A, B or C on their report card from the state,

That’s the goal of the school system’s tentative five-year strategic plan, a draft of which the Johnston County Board of Education reviewed recently.

The goal might be an ambitious one. This past year, 67 percent of the county’s 45 schools earned an A, B or C, meaning 15 schools, many of them along the Interstate 95 corridor, received a D or an F.

But the school system has ideas for getting all schools to a C or better, Kristy Stephenson, the school system’s executive director of school improvement and accountability, told the Board of Education.

One objective is to make sure all schools are on the same page, almost literally, when it comes to teaching the curriculum, she said. Another is to make sure that every school has a “safe, orderly and positive environment” for students and staff.

Other objectives include engaging families and communities in their schools, and recruiting and retaining the best teachers, Stephenson said.

In developing the goals and strategies, the school system’s central office administrators talked a lot among themselves, Stephenson said. “We had conversations around, What does a leading (school) district look like?” she said. “What are the attributes of a leading district?”

That approach struck a positive chord with school board member Tracie Zukowski. “You had me at ‘What does a leading district look like?’” she said. “In my world, we call that chasing the top performer, and that’s what we should always be doing.