July Spotlight—Montgomery Hinton, Rankin Public Schools (MS)
Method Test Prep Spotlight seeks to highlight MTP clients, friends, and acquaintances who are doing amazing things in education. For each installment of the Spotlight, we will select a dedicated individual or organization to profile, and will then interview the awardee to share their story. Through the Spotlight, we hope to develop a bank of successful experiences and practices for other schools and educators to learn from.
In education, there are many effective leaders and passionate teachers; some, however, exhibit supreme capability in recognizing opportunities for improvement, creating and implementing achievement plans, and producing results that exceed expectations. This month’s Method Test Prep Spotlight shines on one such individual: Montgomery Hinton, College and Career Prep Specialist in the Rankin County School District, Mississippi.
The improvements Mr. Hinton has helped Rankin County Schools achieve are nothing short of extraordinary. Indeed, the district has attracted attention of the local media and garnered praise from state officials. In 2019, Mr. Hinton was recognized as an ACT K-12 College and Career Champion, but remains humble, crediting supportive administrators, hard-working and competent teachers, and dedicated students as the main drivers of success. Do not, however, let this modesty fool you: Hinton is truly a force of nature, pairing his remarkable skill to encourage buy-in from adults with his ability to speak in plain terms to students and tap into their sense of drive. A devoted husband and father, he draws on his experience with motivating his own children in order to convey to teens just how impactful their hard work can be. His infectious enthusiasm for helping students develop into responsible, accomplished adults is wholly evident.
Mr. Hinton’s relationship with Method Test Prep goes back to the final months of the 2016-2017 school year, when he first learned of MTP’s ACT prep program. At the time, the Rankin County School District had purchased the program, but student usage was low. As a seasoned ACT tutor himself, Hinton was well aware of the impact that test prep could have on students’ standardized test success. Upon evaluating the online program, he immediately recognized its quality and intuitive interface.
"I wanted to offer students a 24 hour-a-day program that was accessible to a student anywhere. As we are 1-to-1, each student has a portable device. I then began to dig into the immense depth of resources that Method Test Prep offered and was stunned to see how much was available in each of the four main content areas of the ACT…”
Hinton immediately knew this was a tool he needed in order to achieve his goal of improving ACT scores in Rankin County Schools. But in a large district, he would need help devising and implementing a plan. For twenty years, MTP has been helping schools and organizations of all sizes use our program to its maximum potential. We like to tell people that our software is free—it's our service and support that they're paying for. Mr. Hinton’s experience reflects our mission.
"While I was skeptical of Method Test Prep, I found that this company is vastly different than others. There was never a 'no.’ They actually wanted to help me help our students. The representative answered my phone call and knew my name. From day one, he helped me understand the program and put into place a mechanism for system-wide implementation. We streamlined how our students could access the platform [more easily] and then did professional development with our ACT prep teachers district-wide. While we initially only pushed it into our 8 high schools, the ease and QUALITY of the program morphed into regular classroom teachers using it, and we now have it in 10 schools."
Hinton says that using Clever—a universal single sign on, or SSO, that integrates school data and user accounts across a broad range of software applications—played a significant role in streamlining access to MTP. Through Clever, students in Rankin County Schools can seamlessly access MTP’s ACT prep program with the same username and password they use to log in to other district programs. Clearly, the ease of use is working: in the four-year span since district-wide MTP implementation, Rankin County’s students have answered nearly two million questions. To further bolster awareness of MTP, Rankin’s educators distribute our subject-specific review packets—all of which are housed in the Resource Materials section of the program—to their juniors and sophomores. (Click below to see a sample packet.)
Initially, Rankin County Schools purchased only our ACT program. In order to provide his students with more opportunities, Hinton decided to add our SAT program to Rankin’s subscription. The results were swift and remarkable: the number of National Merit Scholarship semi-finalists and finalists in the district’s high schools increased by 200 percent during the first year of SAT program implementation. The subsequent year saw a 125 percent increase. Hinton attributes the success largely to the availability of MTP’s SAT program.
On the ACT side, Rankin County Schools have seen their students’ ACT performance grow from below Mississippi’s state average, to above the state average, to at or above the national average, with average scores increasing four years in a row. For the district’s college-bound students, merit-based aid—largely based on ACT scores—exceeded $40 million last year alone. When viewed in terms of return on investment, the district’s commitment to MTP’s online programs has paid off in spades. It has been a boon for students of every level. As Hinton says,
“In a very diverse school district like ours, finding a program that provides individualized studies for students who are at different levels is a challenge. However, MTP has provided the gateway for each student and teacher to have access to this type of material, whether used as a primary tool, such as in our ACT classes, or [as] supplemental material in a curriculum-based class like Algebra 2.”
The program’s usefulness has extended through this year’s school shutdowns; as a distance learning resource, MTP has provided continuity and stability. "It was 'plug and play' to cover our directives and need to provide [an] online curriculum.”
Mr. Hinton adds that, "...our goals continue to increase on a yearly basis as we continue to see positive results."
More about Montgomery Hinton
How do you like to spend your summers or vacation time?
I like to spend time with my wife, children, and our grandchildren.
What are your hobbies?
I enjoy fishing.
Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting Montgomery for a cup of coffee while he was visiting Colorado with his family; I can tell you that he is every bit the genuine article. His energy and passion for education and the students of the Rankin County community are invaluable assets that clearly demonstrate the impact an individual can have through education. We are proud to be associated with Montgomery and look forward to working hard to help him attain his goals for the students of Rankin County Schools.
If you would like to nominate an individual or organization working with MTP to be considered for a Spotlight Award, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line Spotlight. Please also share this story with people in education as well as with parents and other interested parties!