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Graduation Tomorrow Middle Grades Now! Deborah Kasak, Executive Director, National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform Lynn Butler,

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Presentation on theme: "Graduation Tomorrow Middle Grades Now! Deborah Kasak, Executive Director, National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform Lynn Butler,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Graduation Tomorrow Middle Grades Now! Deborah Kasak, Executive Director, National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform Lynn Butler, Principal, Alondra Middle School Melvin Ingram, Principal Ellerbe Middle School

2 A Call to Middle Grades Schools Many 6th graders will need interventions and supports to stay on track to graduation (Early Indicators/Balfanz). Without them, these students will likely drop-out when they get to high school. Different students will need different interventions and supports (root causes). Schools must be organized and resourced to address diverse needs. Why do the middle grades matter? – The habits and patterns set in middle school follow students to high school (ACT, Inc.). – Only 50% of students entering high school 2 or more years behind grade level in math/literacy are promoted to the 10 th grade. – 9 th grade retention is a major risk factor for dropping out of high school. – The convergence of adolescence and the challenges of living in high poverty communities may cause students to disengage from school.

3 National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform Established in 1997 by several major foundations involved in middle-grades improvement work, unites major “players” involved in middle grades work so we can do more together than individually Movement creator and message unifier to speak with one voice and add value to one another’s work Vision and set of criteria around academic excellence, developmental responsiveness, social equity, and organizational supports to improve education for young adolescents in grades 5-8 Signature initiative is Schools to Watch, established in 2002 as state program to accelerate changes, create capacity, and provide exemplars. Trains leaders at the state, district, and school levels to assess school performance using a set of rigorous criteria

4 Schools to Watch Today Schools to Watch initiative of the National Forum identifies exemplars demonstrating research-based and best-practice driven criteria. Initiative started in 2002 with 3 states now in 18 states, identifying over 400 schools as of June 2014. Designation and re-designation occurs every three years which fosters continuous improvement through use of the STW Rating Rubric – All grade spans e.g. k-8, 5-8, 6-8, 7-9, 7-8; Enrollment ranges (300 to more than 3,000); in urban, rural and suburban communities; and diverse student bodies – Is the national model with its STW Ratings Rubric and Criteria and advocates federal and state policy for middle grades education – Two U S Department of Education Investing in Innovation grants addressing middle grades improvement (2010) and middle grades leadership (2013) and both use STW state networks to accelerate reform

5 Examples of School Systems and Structures We See in STW Sites Professional Development for staff Students are organized into small learning communities Teacher teams meet regularly to review data, plan instructions, and collaborate around student success School schedule maximizes time for interventions and supports Policies and procedures build a whole-school culture (grading policies, recording behavior, attendance) Students have an adult advocate in the building Social and emotional skills are directly taught

6 Commonalities across STW Often have overcome obstacles that one would normally say isn’t possible. They make no excuses, find ways to achieve and succeed Are taking deliberate steps to help students achieve outcomes by making strategic changes in curriculum, teaching, and school services Are never satisfied with their current levels of family and parental involvement even though it is often wonderful Have set benchmarks for implementing their strategies, and hold themselves accountable for specific results. We cannot stress too much the importance of data in the lives of these schools Strategically concentrate their energies on important focus areas. As a result, the changes in each school are burrowing deeply into its culture. Many redesignated schools have new leaders but the improvements are continuous They know visionary leaders are important but also know that teacher leaders help a program sustain and grow. They make the innovations sustain The schools are filled involved students and adults who are all actively learning!

7 Alondra Middle School Paramount Unified School District “A National School to Watch” Demographics TOTAL ENROLLMENT: 960 6 TH -8 TH GRADE STUDENTS 1 of 4 Middle Schools Located in Paramount, CA 91% of AMS students receive free/reduced lunch 31% of AMS students are ELL’s 10% of AMS students are classified as students with disabilities Our Collaborative TEAM:  2 Certificated Management  32 Credentialed Teachers  3 SDC Credentialed Teachers  2 Credentialed Counselors  1 Language Arts/ELD Coach  1 Mathematics/Science Coach  1 School Psychologist  1 Speech Pathologist  2 RSP Credentialed Teachers  60 Classified Employees

8 AMS CST API Scores  Current API of 823  Since reconfiguring to a middle school, Alondra has achieved a 94 point gain (2009-2013)  Statewide Rank of 6  Similar Schools Rank of 10 CELDT: AMAO I Results


10 Creating a SAFE & CIVIL Environment CHAMPS School Connectedness Incentives CHAMPS School Connectedness Incentives CHAMPS- Proactive and Positive Approach to Classroom Management CHAMPS- Proactive and Positive Approach to Classroom Management  Acronym used to increase motivation and student achievement C onversation level H elp A ctivity M ovement P articipation S uccess C onversation level H elp A ctivity M ovement P articipation S uccess School Wide Common Language  School Wide Common Language School Wide Expectations  School Wide Expectations School Connectedness- Building a School Wide Positive Learning Environment School Connectedness- Building a School Wide Positive Learning Environment 3:1: Ratio of InteractionsStrong Parent Involvement  3:1: Ratio of Interactions  Strong Parent Involvement Safe and Civil Reporting Use Data to Drive School Wide Programs  Safe and Civil Reporting  Use Data to Drive School Wide Programs Incentives- School Wide, Grade Level, Individual, Classroom Goals Incentives- School Wide, Grade Level, Individual, Classroom Goals Monthly/Semester AttendanceSafe & Civil Champion Awards  Monthly/Semester Attendance  Safe & Civil Champion Awards Safe & Civil Champion Awards Academic Achievement/Principal’s Honor Roll  Safe & Civil Champion Awards  Academic Achievement/Principal’s Honor Roll Monthly Principal’s BreakfastSafe & Civil Field Trips Promoting Positive Behavior  Monthly Principal’s Breakfast  Safe & Civil Field Trips Promoting Positive Behavior

11 Dolphins Take Center Stage

12 Investing in Innovation (i3) Schools to Watch: School Transformation Network Every STW state fielded inquiries for more assistance in helping schools become STW, high-performing middle grades schools Take core ideas learned from the national STW initiative and drill it down in high-needs schools, deepening work and testing school turn-around model within the i3 work Systematically gather evaluation data to demonstrate effectiveness Apply early indicators strategies to keep students on pathway to graduation Location: Created 3 regional hubs for capacity-building, sustaining, and scaling up change through the larger national STW network of states in California: 4 urban in Compton, 2 rural in Coalinga-Huron; Illinois: 6 urban in Chicago; North Carolina: 2 urban in Durham, 4 rural in Richmond

13 2010 i3 School Demographics and Characteristics Student Characteristics – All i3 students are in grades 6 th to 8 th – 91% of i3 students receive free/reduced-priced lunch – Ethnicity of i3 students: 58% Hispanic, 19% Black/African-American, 12% White, remaining 11% are other ethnicities – 40% of i3 students are absent from school 6 days or more per year – 64% of students take care of themselves at least one day per week Teacher Characteristics – 74% of i3 teachers have worked in the field of education for at least 6 years – 59% of i3 teachers have been employed at their school for 5 years or less – i3 teacher certification: 46% elementary, 37% secondary, 23% middle grades endorsement, 17% middle grades certified

14 On-going i3 Project Services Coaching Variations – STW Coach – Principal Mentor – Mentor School – Network Learning Professional Development Early Indicators Training and Strategies National Forum Conference Opportunities


16 Improvements in Key Self-Study Teacher Survey Constructs (2011 to 2013) Collaboration continues to improve: Teachers report engaging more frequently in team practices (planning and coordination, curriculum integration, coordination of student assignments, parent contact) and the quality of their interactions is higher (addressing student needs, cohesion and harmony among teachers, teachers more prepared to work together, having high expectations). Classroom instructional practices increased: Teachers report engaging more frequently in “best” instructional strategies (e.g., small group active instruction, writing skills, interdisciplinary practices). Climate continues to improve: Teachers report more positive work climate (commitment to school, recognition), more participation in decisions, and higher collective commitment to students. Administrative leadership increased: Teachers report more positive ratings of the leadership

17 Academic Improvements Year II individual student achievement analysis in progress Several schools have moved off academic watch lists – NC rural school 2013 STW; CA rural school “Safe Harbor” Year II to III school level data pending but Year I to II showed

18 Ellerbe Middle School

19 Ellerbe Middle School, a rural middle school located in Ellerbe, North Carolina, is one of four middle schools in the Richmond County School District Ellerbe Middle School serves 202 student in grades 6- 8 with 90% Free and Reduced Lunch The student population is diverse with 36% being African American, 33% Caucasian, 24% Hispanic, 4% American Indian, & 2% Bi-racial Ellerbe Middle School faculty and staff is comprised of : -14 full-time teachers & 2 itinerant teachers - 3 support professionals & 3 teacher assistants

20 Ellerbe Middle School Results of STW Work: Schools to Watch Vision & Rubric embedded in PLC Schools to Watch Mentor School Visits Teacher Leadership Development through NCMLE Data Driven Decision Making (Early Indicators) Consistent and Pervasive Use Research Based Strategies Student Centered Approaches to Learning Increase in Rigor and Relevance More Collaborative Culture facilitated by resources provided by STW Principal Coach & Instructional Coach Pathway to School to Watch Recognition

21 Early Indicators STW Data Reflection Wall School Culture/Teacher Buy-In 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens 21

22 22 2014 Bio-Moto STEM Challenge Grand Champions

23 Major Rationale— Middle Grades Leadership Development 2013 i3 Grant Principals orchestrate the school enterprise and leadership is positively associated with learning climate. The middle grades - last best chance to keep students on the pathway to high school graduation (Carnegie Council on Adolescent Development, 1989; EdSource, 2010) yet few if any middle-grades principals receive any type of specific preparation to lead strong schools for young adolescents. Qualitative study of turnaround middle schools in NYC chronicled the difference between strong middle-grades leaders and those unable to deliver results. Recommended principals be trained in strategic goal setting, socio-emotional supports for students, and would be connected through sustained mentorship. “Increasing school capacity for tackling change is associated with both the success of reform efforts and increases in student achievement” (Anfara & Mertens, 2012). Most high needs schools have a patchwork of programs and practices and lack the leadership ability and collaborative culture necessary to bring coherence and produce results. “Networking accelerates the change process and fosters learning by providing a safe environment that encourages innovation as well as critical and supportive feedback, designed to help build long-term capacity for improvement” (Veugelers & O’Hair, 2005).

24 Middle Grades Leadership Development Partners in the new i3 grant (4 year project) – CA - Leadership Matters/Principals to Watch – MI – Institute for Excellence in Education, MI STW – KY – Kentucky Middle School Association, KY STW – Center for Prevention Research and Development is independent Evaluator – 12 schools in MI and KY plus control schools

25 Goals & Objectives Developing distributed leadership to increase capacity of struggling middle-grades schools to engage in continuous improvement and function as professional learning communities; Training school leadership in collaboration skills to involve all stakeholders in creating a shared mission, vision, and beliefs establishing ownership for school improvement efforts and high expectations for all; Assisting school leadership in implementing programs, developing practices, and establishing organizational structures consistent with STW criteria for high-performance to remove learning barriers and increase student achievement; Building collaborative relationships between school leadership and the district office to support, expand, and enhance the overall work at the schools; and Engaging the school leadership team in the STW network to exchange ideas, solve problems, and discuss practices which alter school culture, collaborative climate, teacher efficacy, productivity, and leadership capacity for success.

26 26 Questions: National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform – – 217-351-2196 Annual Schools to Watch Conference June 25- 28, 2014 Marriott Crystal Gateway Hotel, Arlington, VA.

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