William Tennent HS's Journey to AYP

Girl sitting at a school desk
  • William Tennent High School

    IU22 - Bucks County Intermediate Unit
    Centennial SD
    333 Centennial Rd
    Warminster , PA 18974

  • Success Story Contact

    Mike Devitt
    Phone: 215-441-6181
    Email: DeviMi@centennialsd.org
    School Website:

  • BSE/PaTTAN’s Role in Success:

    William Tennent gratefully acknowledges the contribution of PaTTAN staff, in particular the Distinguished School Leader contacts throughout the school improvement process. PaTTAN was instrumental in identifying resources, analyzing performance data and critiquing implementation plans.

Celebrating successes of high achievers and not supporting/promoting achievements of students with special needs.

For too long William Tennent High School staff felt they were, inadvertently, making a mistake by celebrating the success of the highest achieving students while masking the failure to promote the achievement of all students. Their data analysis revealed that the persistently low rates of achievement were among their special education and economically disadvantaged students. Six years ago they decided to commit themselves to self reflection, extensive data collection and analysis, continuous innovation, and collaboration with partners such as Bucks County Intermediate Unit and PaTTAN to reach academic achievement for all students, with no exceptions. The results have been nothing less than remarkable.William Tennent High School realized that their problem was placing special education students on a rigor-less curriculum track. When the modified course of study with lower expectations led to their students failing to demonstrate proficiency, they just wrote it off as the natural state of affairs and confirmation of the students with special needs. This was no longer going to be the case in the high school. There were two main battle cries when attacking the problem: inclusion, inclusion, inclusion, and co-teaching, co-teaching, co-teaching.

Now special education teachers have been assigned to specific departments and their work areas have been located near their subject area colleagues. There is common planning time for the co-teaching partners and the few remaining self-contained sections within special education now use the same textbooks, follow the same curriculum and administer the same exams at the same time. There is no more “shadow curriculum” at William Tennent High School. Over the past six years, the students achieving advanced or proficient has grown from 56 percent to 76 percent in reading and from 42 percent to 70 percent in math. More importantly, the rate of improvement for the students now scoring advanced or proficient in the special education subgroup increased from 22 percent to 50 percent in reading and 7 percent to 26 percent in math. And in 2008-09, William Tennent High School achieved AYP for all subgroups for the first time! Data does not always tell the whole story. Tom*, a student with Asperger’s Disorder, was initially in a learning support setting. In his freshman year he was included with other 9th grade students. Although not initially happy about the transition, he has flourished in his new setting by having two teachers who are preparing him for the future. His scores, self confidence, performance and grades have all increased thanks to his inclusive setting.Congratulations to William Tennent High School and their impressive Success Story!*Not his real name.