Raising the bar at M-CHS
New principal sets higher passing standards
Jason Wayman may not have competed in track and field in high school, but he believes in raising the bar.
Wayman, 32, is not shirking from his responsibility as the new principal at Montezuma-Cortez High School.
In an effort to increase academic performance, several changes have been made for the new school year. One of the more obvious changes is raising the lowest threshold for a passing “D” grade from 60 to 66 percent. The threshold percentages for the other grades, i.e. A through C, will remain the same at 90, 80, and 70, respectively.
“It’s raising the expectations for everyone,” Wayman said. “We’re not just raising the bar for students, we’re raising the bar for ourselves.”
That idea was just one of several being implemented for the 2012-2013 school year by the school leadership team, which consists of 10 teachers and four administrators. Wayman wants to help the school get over the hump, so the district does not lose its accreditation. The district is on a five-year improvement plan that was mandated from the Colorado Department of Education to improve its schools beginning with the previous school year.
Another change involves reducing the acceptable number of excused absences from an unlimited number to seven per year. Doctor’s visits, funerals and meetings with government agencies will not count toward the total, Wayman said. The limit for unexcused absences will now be 10 per year. Previously it was 14.
These changes in the school’s attendance policy were spurred by the school having been 7 percent lower in attendance than the state average last year. Colorado schools averaged a 92 percent attendance rate while M-CHS was at 85 percent, Wayman said.
To help students bring up their grades, those with a “D” or “F” will have two days a week in an expanded intervention class. This will be done while other students are taking extracurricular enrichment classes, i.e. distance running, knitting, EMT training, Native American culture, etc.
Students who haven’t turned in assignments will have to attend the ZAP, or Zeros Aren’t Permitted, Room. The ZAP room will be monitored by administrators.
“We’re trying to expand our student leadership team and build more school spirit,” Wayman said, noting they’re going to involve more students in event planning this year.
In addition, every teacher has been assigned to one of four committees: professional learning, intervention, behaviour support and staff/student engagement.
The behavior support committee will try to create an environment free of bullying and intimidation.
“We’re trying to create a family atmosphere and learn from past mistakes,” Wayman said, describing the intent of the staff/student engagement committee.
Painting the school white and other bright colors is another thing that’s been done to get away from “so much black.” Another cosmetic change involved fixing and cleaning up the restrooms.
Montezuma-Cortez High School will have 50 teachers and four administrators this year. Some 600 students are expected to enroll.