Project 720 is a 3 year, grant-funded initiative though the State of Pennsylvania that provides an evaluative framework for improving student performance in high schools. The name “Project 720” refers to the 720 total days a student is in school from the first day he/she enters 9th grade until the day he/she graduates four years later. Washington High School has chosen to combine elements from Project 720 with the Southern Regional Education Board’s High Schools That Work Program (HSTW).
High Schools That Work (HSTW) is a multi-state organization that concerns itself with increasing student effort, setting specific goals for high school staff and students, creating a rigorous and relevant curriculum for all students, providing students with engaging and challenging instruction, and developing personal educational support for all students. A particular emphasis is placed on assisting students through transition points in education and developing leadership teams among the staff and the community.
Project 720 Assurance—Ensure that every student graduates ready for college and career. (HSTW equivalent practice): High expectations—setting higher expectations and getting more students to meet them.
Project 720 Assurance—Implement a rigorous college and career prep core curriculum for all students. (HSTW equivalent practice): Program of study—having students complete a challenging program of study with an upgraded academic core and a major.
Project 720 Assurance—Align school district and postsecondary expectations.
(HSTW equivalent practice): Work-based learning—giving students and their parents the choice of a system that integrates school-based and work-based learning that spans high school and postsecondary studies and that is planned by educators, employers, and employees.
Project 720 Assurance—Create and implement a plan for adolescent literacy.
(HSTW equivalent practice): Academic studies—increasing access to academic studies that teach the essential concepts from the college-preparatory curriculum by encouraging students to use academic content and skills to address real-world projects and problems.
Project 720 Assurance—Identify and implement local level assessments.
(HSTW equivalent practice): Keeping score—using student assessment and program evaluation data to improve continuously the school climate, organization, management, curricula and instruction to advance student learning and to recognize students who meet both curriculum and performance goals.
Project 720 Assurance—Make better use of school time for all students.
(HSTW equivalent practice): Students actively engaged—getting every student involved in rigorous and challenging learning.
Project 720 Assurance—Increase staff professional development.
(HSTW equivalent practice): Teachers working together—having an organization, structure, and schedule giving academic and career/technical teachers the time to plan and deliver integrated instruction aimed at teaching high-level academic and technical content.
Project 720 Assurance—Create smaller and more personal learning environments.
(HSTW equivalent practice): Extra help—providing a structured system of extra help to enable students who may lack adequate preparation to complete an accelerated program of study that includes high-level academic and technical content.
Project 720 Assurance—Work collaboratively with the local Career and Technical Center.
(HSTW equivalent practice): Career/technical studies—increasing access to intellectually challenging career/technical studies, with a major emphasis on using high-level mathematics, science, language arts and problem-solving skills in the modern workplace and in preparation for continued learning.
Project 720 Assurance—Design and implement data-informed student advisory services.
(HSTW equivalent practice): Guidance—involving each student and his or her parents in a guidance and advisement system that ensures the completion of an accelerated program of study with an in-depth academic or career/technical major.
Currently, there are four Project 720 Teams: Infrastructure; Pedagogy; School to Career; and the 9th Grade Transition and Remediation Team. Each team addresses at least one of the Key Practices outlined in the HSTW plan:
The Infrastructure Team—
- Reviewing and revising Master Schedule to better meet student needs
- Reviewing student grading and attendance software for adoption
- Reviewing parent communication software tool for adoption
- Assessing infrastructure needs through student assessment and inventory (HSTW Senior Survey and Assessment)
- Assessing infrastructure needs through teacher inventory (HSTW Teacher Inventory)
- Identifying struggling students and targeted improvements in the curriculum through standardized assessment results such as the PSSA (8th grade results) and the G-MADE and GRADE assessments (administered at least 3 times during the course of each year)
The Pedagogy Team—
Current Projects: The focus of the Pedagogy Team this year has been Literacy. Current programs in development include:
- Incorporation of the Accelerated Reader Program for High School English courses
- Development of common reading and writing strategies for all content areas
- Construction of a literacy web site for teacher and student reference
- Reviewing English course requirements for reading outside of class
- Revising course offerings and sequence for Mathematics
The School to Career Transition Team—
- Developing Dual-enrollment options for selected high school courses
- Establishing “Career Pathways” for students entering high school
- Incorporating Career Planning courses into the curriculum
The 9th Grade Transition and Remediation—
- Implementing the 9th Grade Orientation at the beginning of each school year
- Identifying struggling students at the end of the 1st quarter for mentoring
- Assessing student progress during the course of the 9th grade year and meeting individually with those students who are struggling in core subjects.
Disclaimer: School improvement is a long-term process. The teams supporting this process retain the right to modify any of the above goals for the purpose of improving educational delivery. The primary goal of this initiative is to do what is in the best educational interests of the students of the community of Washington.