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North Forysth High seeks recertification

NORTH FORSYTH -- North Forsyth High School is looking to be a Recognized American School Counselor Association Model Program school.

At a Forsyth County Board of Education meeting Thursday, Sept. 8, counselors from North presented the school’s RAMP application, which highlighted students’ successes at the school on Coal Mountain Drive.

RAMP was created in 2003 to provide a framework for school counseling and to clarify the roles and expectations of staff while also inspiring the highest level of student success.

North was designated RAMP in 2014 and is applying to be recertified.

“As a department, we’re excited about how our work supports the learner profile and our school goals, while we’re aligning it to the American School Counselor Association model,” said Kathy Wigley, a counselor at North.

The ASCA model stresses that “comprehensive school counseling programs, driven by student data and based on standards in academic, career and personal/social development, promote and enhance the learning process for all students,” according to their executive summary.

North’s presentation, led by school counselor Josh Owens, provided the board with data on North’s graduation rates, Advanced Placement enrollment and standardized testing participation.

“We want our students to be college and career-ready, so we feel that comprehensive school counseling programs are part of the foundation of the learner profile. We want to be a service for all students,” Owens said.

Key to receiving RAMP designation is tangible student success.

From 2014 to 2015, the graduation rate increased by 4 percent, from 89 percent of students receiving their diploma to 91 percent. The countywide graduation rate is 94 percent.

Owens said the increase may have come from newly-implemented intervention programs for at-risk students.

To be deemed an “at-risk” student, a teen is either identified by middle schools or fails two or more classes nine weeks into their freshman year.

Counselors met with those students throughout the year, and the program seemed to be a success, with 85 percent of freshman involved being promoted to sophomore status.

AP enrollment was also up from the 2014-15 school year to the 2015-16 year, with nearly 750 more students enrolled in at least one AP course last year.

A new AP course, computer science principles, had the greatest increase in participation, with 122 more students enrolling in the class than the previous year.

In 2014, only 3.9 percent of the junior class took the PSAT standardized test, which Owens said is important in college and career readiness.

High PSAT scores can also secure scholarships for college.

Last year, 29.8 percent of the junior class took the test – an increase of nearly 26 percent.

The school’s progress in those and more areas makes counselors hopeful North will once again receive RAMP designation.

“It’s no guarantee,” Wigley said, “but we’ve got our fingers crossed.”

The application is due in October, and the school will be notified by the end of January whether they are recognized.