Making Schools Work with Hederick Smith school by school reform

Success For All Comer School
Development Program
KIPP High Schools That Work

school by school reform

Corbin, Kentucky

Jesse Hood at Corbin High School

Junior Jesse Hood holds higher expectations for himself after taking an honors, hands-on computer class at Corbin High School.

Corbin High School is located in Southeastern Kentucky’s Appalachia Mountains in the close-knit community of Corbin. Many families in and around this small, predominantly white town live in poverty. At Corbin High, approximately 50% of students are signed up for free and reduced lunch and often, a graduating class has some students who are the first in their family to receive a high school diploma.

The school is, in many ways, the center of the community. It has a media center that’s open to the public. Parents, teachers, and students from throughout the district gather there for after-school activities or simply to socialize. Corbin High is also closely connected to local businesses, which offer financial and educational support.

However, the town of Corbin – population 8,244 – does not have many job opportunities for young people. Mindful of that, in 1999 Principal Joyce Phillips brought in the High Schools That Work model of reform in the hopes of raising the bar for all children so that more students would attend college, the college-bound would be better prepared, and the work-bound would have better opportunities.

Like any school that adopts a new model, Corbin has seen inconsistencies in their data the first few years of HSTW. But according to the Kentucky Department of Education, the school has consistently raised academic achievement, from 75% in 2001 to 85% in 2004. According to an analysis by the Southern Regional Education Board, Corbin students chosen at random from the middle 60% of the student body (those who are neither the highest achievers nor lowest performers) have improved in reading and science over the last couple of years; while math performance remains consistently strong.

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