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Investigating “Think Gold”: A Student Achievement Program to Promote Performance for High-stakes Testing. Josh Emmett, Ph.D. Point Loma Nazarene University Dean McGee, M.A.Ed. Kern High School District. Purpose of the Study.

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Investigating “Think Gold”: A Student Achievement Program to Promote Performance for High-stakes Testing

Josh Emmett, Ph.D.

Point Loma Nazarene University

Dean McGee, M.A.Ed.

Kern High School District


Purpose of the study
Purpose of the Study

  • Discover the critical attributes of a student achievement program at one urban high school

  • Examine the impact of extrinsic motivation on student perceptions and behavior toward state assessments


Research questions
Research Questions

  • What were the critical attributes of the Think Gold program at West High School?

  • How did student achievement, as measured by state assessments, change at West High School from prior to the implementation of the Think Gold program through 2011?

    • How did the performance of West HS compare with the rest of the district?


Theoretical framework
Theoretical Framework

  • Uniqueness of high schools when measuring student achievement on

    “high stakes” tests

  • “High stakes” for schools vs. students

  • Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic motivation

  • High school improvement strategies

  • Rewards as motivation


Method
Method

  • Single case study

    • Offers a means to answer descriptive questions

    • Bounded by location and circumstances

      Yin (2005) endorses the use of case study to provide rich descriptions that enhance awareness and analytical insight that promotes knowledge.


Data sources
Data Sources

  • Data sources

    • Structured interviews with stakeholders

      • 5 administrators, 4 Instructional Coaches

      • 16 randomly selected teachers (of 77)

      • 19 randomly selected students (from grades 9-11)

  • Student achievement data (CSTs)

    • 2009, 2010, and 2011

    • West High School & District (18 high schools)

      • Number of students scoring “proficient” or “advanced”

      • Improvement of students across years

  • Survey data


Data analysis
Data Analysis

  • Guided by Theoretical Framework

  • Coding of interviews

  • Calculations/comparisons of student achievement data

  • Triangulation for student survey responses


The case
The Case

  • Context of West High School

    • Large urban high school in Bakersfield, CA

    • Recent history of low performance

    • Over 70% of students live in poverty

    • Diverse student population (majority Latino)

  • Think Gold program

    • Employs extrinsic motivation for students to improve performance on state assessments


Think gold
Think Gold

  • The Think Gold program is a school-wide effort to improve student academic achievement.

  • The Think Gold program strategically validates and responds to individual student academic success by recognizing student achievement on the California Standards Tests.


Why think gold
Why Think Gold?

  • Students were not coming to school intrinsically motivated to learn.

  • Teachers reported that students “did not care” about failing courses.

  • Teachers were transferring to other schools.

  • Professional Learning Community work began in earnest in 2007-2008.

  • Student performance on state mandated tests did not appear to be improving significantly.


Why think gold1
Why Think Gold?

  • Low School API of 593 in 2005

  • Low Similar Schools Ranking of 2

  • Low Freshman Promotion Rate

  • Low Intrinsic Motivation Levels

    • Low parent education levels

  • Low A-G completion rates

  • High suspension rates



Direct approach to improve student motivation
Direct Approach to Improve Student Motivation

  • The school-site leadership (teachers, administrators, and counselors) believed that the students needed to be encouraged/motivated to demonstrate their content knowledge and abilities when taking the California Standards Tests.

  • Think Gold is an outgrowth of the school’s decision to meet the students’ lack of motivation head-on.


Think gold achievement culture
Think Gold Achievement Culture

Core Expectations: All students are expected to take personal responsibility for their learning. This means that every student should:

  • Get to School Everyday

  • Get to Class On Time

  • Work Hard to Learn

  • Demonstrate Pride for West High


Think gold qualification
Think Gold Qualification

How to qualify for Gold:

1. Students must take all CSTs for assigned grade level and

2. Score proficient or advanced on two or more CSTs (Level One Goldqualification)

or

3. Show a net improvement of two or more performance bands on current CSTs over the previous year’s CSTs

(Level Two Gold qualification)


Think gold recognition
Think Gold Recognition

  • Special Think Gold I.D. Card

  • Participation in Think Gold Activities

  • Access to Think Gold Spirit Awards

  • A Think Gold Express Lunch Pass

    • Level One - @ 140 days

    • Level Two - @ 90 days


Special think gold components
Special Think Gold Components

  • Level Three Gold

    • 8 days per school year

    • Performance-based qualification

      • Proficient or Advanced on a Common Summative Assessment (ELA, Math, Science, & Social Studies)

  • Hall of Fame

    • Top 3 Advanced scores in each CST area

    • Induction ceremony in September

    • Hall of Fame T-Shirt


West high school the kern high school district
West High School & the Kern High School District

  • West High School

    • 2100 ADA

      • 63% Hispanic/Latino

      • 18% White

      • 16% African-American

      • 2% Asian

      • 1% American Indian

    • 70% Free/Reduced Lunch

    • -9.75 Z score (family income/education level calculation from Census)

    • Rapidly became an inner-city school when the community grew (8 new high schools since 1991)

  • Kern High District

    • 37,000 ADA (18 high schools)

      • 61% Hispanic/Latino

      • 27% White

      • 7% African-American

      • 4% Asian

      • 1% American Indian

    • 60% Free/Reduced Lunch

    • Other schools

      • Centennial (23.61 Z score)

      • Frontier (20.16 Z score)

      • Liberty (59.94 Z score)

      • Stockdale (62.03 Z score)

      • Independence (24.40 Z score)


Findings
Findings

  • Research Question #1

    Critical attributes of the Think Gold program:

    • The differentiated incentive system

    • The relative sustainability of the recognition efforts

    • Direct connection of outcomes for student performance to individual student decisions


Findings1
Findings

  • Research Question #2

    Changes in student achievement:

    • Data from 2009, 2010, 2011

    • Increases in Level 1 Criteria exceeded district

    • Increases in Level 2 Criteria exceeded district


Khsd vs west high school 2009 2011 level 1 for 9 th grade khsd west high school
KHSD vs. West High School2009-2011Level 1 for 9th GradeKHSD West High School


Khsd vs west high school 2009 2011 level 1 for 10 th grade khsd west high school
KHSD vs. West High School2009-2011Level 1 for 10th GradeKHSD West High School


Khsd vs west high school 2009 2011 level 1 for 11 th grade khsd west high school
KHSD vs. West High School2009-2011Level 1 for 11th GradeKHSD West High School


Khsd vs west high school 2009 2011 level 1 for total population khsd west high school
KHSD vs. West High School2009-2011Level 1 for Total PopulationKHSD West High School


Khsd vs west high school 2009 2011 level 2 for 10 th grade khsd west high school
KHSD vs. West High School2009-2011Level 2 for 10th GradeKHSD West High School


Khsd vs west high school 2009 2011 level 2 for 11 th grade khsd west high school
KHSD vs. West High School2009-2011Level 2 for 11th GradeKHSD West High School


Khsd vs west high school 2009 2011 level 2 for total population khsd west high school
KHSD vs. West High School2009-2011Level 2 for Total PopulationKHSD West High School


Key observations
Key Observations

  • Mandated assessments have created unique circumstances for junior high and high school students that support extrinsic motivation strategies

  • The development of intrinsic motivation may require an extrinsic jump start for students who have low levels of internal motivation

  • Extrinsic motivation cannot be the only effort to improve student performance

  • Extrinsic motivation works best when students care about the recognition they receive – it must be more than a reward

  • Extrinsic motivation approaches can be counter productive if used recklessly


Significance of the study
Significance of the Study

  • Influence of extrinsic motivation for student achievement as an element for consideration in high school improvement

  • Discussion of the use of extrinsic motivation to promote student achievement

  • Inherent limitations

    • Urban context may mitigate generalizability


Contact information
Contact information





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