The purpose of this communication is to provide you with an update about the work that is being done to prepare to inspire and prepare all of our students with the confidence, courage and competence to achieve their dreams; contribute to community; and engage in a lifetime of learning.
What we’ve been working on:
ENSURING STUDENT LEARNING THROUGH CULTURALLY RELEVANT, QUALITY INSTRUCTION:
- Failure Rates:
- We have seen a decrease in our student failure rate and an increase in our overall GPA rate for our students from last year. We are still experiencing a disproportional numbers of students of color and SPED students receiving increased rates of failure.
- Collaborative Classes:
- We have added English Language Collaborative classes to our 8th grade house.
- When asked if the co-teaching model was meeting the needs of students, the majority of respondents stated that it was. In addition to formally surveying co-teachers we will also be observing co-teaching pairs “in action” and developing a plan to support teams.
- Class Changes: There have been significant changes in the 6 and 6/7 houses as it relates to Math. We have added two accelerated classes to the sixth grade house and moved a number of students in non-accelerated classes to the 6/7 house for Math instruction.
- Data Looping: Are meeting weekly to analyze performance data from common assessments and make decisions for future instructions. Grade level teams worked on the following first trimester:
- 6th graders worked to multiply and divide decimals and fractions using efficient and generalizable procedures, including standard algorithms.
- 7th graders worked to represent real world and mathematical situations using equations with variables. Solving equations symbolically, using the properties of equality. Also worked on solving equations graphically and numerically and interpreting solutions in the original context.
- 8th graders worked to represent real world and mathematical situations using equations with variables and solving equations symbolically, using the properties of equality. They also worked to solve equations graphically and numerically and interpret solutions in the original context.
- Reading labs: Benchmark progress monitoring is providing us with data points and are creating opportunities to listen to every student and providing time for one on one conversation to reinforce strategies and measure comprehension.
- All School Reads: Our all school reads efforts were a success, with the majority of students finding value in the activity.
- Silent Sustained Reading Initiative: This is another area that we saw small successes. When students were surveyed, the majority stated that they enjoyed this time and were able to read for 10+ minutes a day. Many students reported already reading 7 or more books so far this year.
- PLC Work: The English/Language Arts, Humanities, Science, and Full Service Special Ed teachers meet twice a week with Mary Lillestol and Sarah Schmidt for their PLCs. Work is focused on Common Core literacy standards that are taught across content areas and how teachers can differentiate for the range of needs in their classroom.
- 6th grade house: Before getting into reading standards, the group focused on organization. They collected data to find out who is consistently coming to class prepared and who is struggling to do so. The team determined strategies to put in place to meet the needs of all (tier 1), some (tier 2), and few (tier 3) students. After putting strategies in place, post-assessment data showed that 11 of the 16 tier 3 students moved to either tier 1 or 2. The 6th grade house is now focused on reading standard 6, which is about identifying how point of view and purpose influence the content and style of a text. They are also learning about pre-reading strategies they can use so students can better access grade level text.
- 7/6th grade house: Before getting into reading standards, the group also focused on organization. They collected data to find out if students are coming to class prepared, keeping their binder organized, and what students think about organization. They used the data to place students in the three tiers and determine what strategies to use for the students. Teachers are continuing to carry out the strategies for organization while beginning their work on reading standard 6 (how point of view and purpose influence the content and style of a text). This group is also studying how to include cultural relevance in the teaching of the standards.
- 7th grade house: First trimester was focused on students being able to support their answers with evidence, or to answers the question “How do you know?”. The team gave a pre-test that asked students to state what IB Learner Profile trait the characters in Seed Folks have and back up their answer with evidence and reasoning. The team learned about a variety of strategies to encourage a growth mindset in writing, how to organize claim and evidence, and how to increase writing stamina. Each teacher chose a strategy to implement in their classroom. The 7th grade house is now also focused on reading standard 6. They are identifying how point of view and purpose influence content and style of a text in the various content areas.
- 8th grade house: First trimester was focused on how students can use text features to increase comprehension in the content area texts. Students took a pretest on text features and both the teachers and students analyzed the data. The team planned a lesson about using text features that was taught in the Humanities class and teachers followed up with it in their own content classes. Teachers are using two strategies to weave text features into their instruction – think alouds and text feature walks. Post-assessment data will be collected after break. This team is now starting to work with reading standard 8, which is about identifying and evaluating claims, evidence, and reasoning.
A FOCUS ON FAMILY AND COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT:
- We have had very well attended family engagement activities, whether it’s our open house, conferences or our Orchestra concert, our families are interested in engaging with the greater school community.
- We are still offering our monthly VIP days and have seen an increase in impromptu parent visits.
- Family and community members expressed appreciation for the ability to stay updated on what’s going on in their students’ school.
CREATING A POSITIVE SCHOOL CLIMATE AND CULTURE: The trends that I see from reviewing behavioral data are below.
- Behavioral Data:
- We have seen an increase in the number of incidents referred to the office over the previous year, but a decrease in the number of offenders.
- The referral data also shows that the number of students referred for disruptive behavior and incidents related to student conflicts has increased
- We have also seen an increase in the number of students suspended from last year, but the number of suspended offenders has decreased.
- We are still seeing the similar disproportional numbers of students of color and SPED students being referred and/or receiving significant consequences.
- The number of students tardy to class has decreased. Last year 63% of our students had less than 15 tardies while this year the number of students with less than 15 tardies is 74%.
- This year 92.1% of our students have less than 40 tardies, while last 90.3% of our students had less than 40 tardies.
- Our eighth grade students are receiving the disproportionate number of tardies this year with only 80% of eighth graders have less than 40 tardies. While 95.3% of sixth and seventh grade students have less than 40 referrals.
- Student Ambassadors: Our student ambassador program is up and running and students will be working on the following school wide initiatives:
- Reducing student tardiness
- Reducing insubordination rates
- Reducing bullying incidents in the building.
- Check and Connect: Is working for some, but not all. There has been resistance from some 8th graders because of the “elementary” feel of the program. We will be meeting to review and revise the program 2nd trimester. We will be implementing a more robust, structured “Check and Connect” program third trimester.
- Positive Alternatives to Student Suspension (PASS): We have convened 3 different groups of people to sit down together and discuss our PASS program. The Equity Team, student group and teacher roundtable will discuss our successes, challenges and work collectively as a community to ensure that our PASS programs is meeting the needs of our learners.