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Project Action. Westport High’s Approach to “At-Risk” Students. Mary Jo Medeiros. School Adjustment Counselor Project Action Grant Coordinator. Opening. Workshop Overview: Introductions Group Discussion: Define At-risk Barriers to Effective Intervention Panel Presentation

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westport high s approach to at risk students
Project Action

Westport High’s Approach

to “At-Risk” Students

school adjustment counselor project action grant coordinator
Mary Jo Medeiros

School Adjustment Counselor

Project Action Grant Coordinator


Workshop Overview:

  • Introductions
  • Group Discussion:
    • Define At-risk
    • Barriers to Effective Intervention
  • Panel Presentation
    • School-wide Initiatives
    • Alternative Ed Grant Funded Programs
      • ACT Classroom Model (FY ‘05 – FY ‘07)
      • Project Action (FY ‘08 –FY ‘09)
  • Program Highlights
    • Collaborating with community-based organizations and agencies
    • Engaging parents and family
    • High-quality curriculum and instruction techniques for at-risk students
    • Incorporating wrap-around services and referral out services
  • Questions
panel participants

Panel & Participants

WHS Definition of “At-Risk Student
  • Academic
    • Middle School identification
    • Credit Deficiencies
      • Repeat freshmen
    • Citizenship
      • School-wide rubric
      • Grading on report cards
      • Ineligibility for sports
  • Poor Attendance
  • Detentions and Suspensions
    • In school and out of school
  • Social and Emotional Issues
What students report get in the way of school concentration…

WHS students :

Have lost 7 peers within the past three years

6 students lost a parent in the past school calendar year

Report households where domestic violence is present, parental mental health issues and addiction render the caregiver unavailable

Westport is home to at least 4 adolescent foster homes and some kinship placements.

mrs bridget buckless librarian grant coordinator parent
WHS Overview & Secondary Reading Grant

Mrs. Bridget Buckless,


Grant Coordinator


WHS Population
  • Small town
    • Few minorities
    • Little community resources
    • Few adolescent social opportunities
    • Small student body
      • Approximately 500 students
  • Border cities
    • More diverse resources
    • School choice students
Mission Statement

Westport High School’s mission is to challenge students to

gain knowledge,

acquire skills’

develop talents,

and contribute to a climate of respect.

WHS School-Wide Initiatives

Reading Comprehension in Content Areas

Workshop Model


PASS class

RESPECT referral process

Student Success Plan

Reading Comprehension in the Content Areas
  • “Modeling” is both necessary and difficult to do properly.
  • Modeling allows the students to see what good practices look like
  • Strategies need to be taught in a direct, explicit manner.
  • Students need to practice strategies until they own them.
Develop a Plan to Model Reading in Your Content Area
  • Set the purpose for reading this material
  • How would students need to read this material?
  • Demonstrate what a good reader would do before, during, and after reading this material
  • What other activities would deepen their understanding of the reading selection?
      • Students learn new vocabulary
      • Students making connections to other subjects or life experiences
  • Students write responses to open-ended questions based on reading selection
  • Use school-wide reading rubric to assess



Literacy Study Group RECOMMENDATIONS
  • Problem with students’ learned helplessness
  • Look at school-wide culture
  • Discussion of literacy issues led to a need for consistency in classroom routines.
  • What school-wide routines would best suit our school?
School-Wide Approaches
  • Structures are necessary for students
  • Need for consistency among the faculty
  • Predictable routines in every classroom
    • Posting an agenda
    • Establishing an opening routine
    • Establishing a closing routine
mr tom clark english teacher
Workshop Model in an English Classroom

Mr. Tom Clark

English Teacher

Workshop Model
  • Daily routine is as follows:
    • Independent reading (15-20 minutes)
    • Read aloud - Think aloud/Talk aloud (15-20 minutes)
    • Mini Lesson (5-10 minutes)
    • Work Period (30-40 minutes)
    • Closing (5-10 minutes)
  • Routine is essential!
Photograph of a teacher and students in a classroom

- Removed for posting to ESE website.

Teacher Modeling

Allows the students to see what good practices look like

Most of the modeling takes place during the read aloud

The focus of each read aloud will be one of the “7 Habits of Proficient Readers”

Classroom Set-Up
  • Small groups are conducive to this type of class
    • Conferencing can occur easily
    • Group work
    • Peer editing
    • Group discussions
  • Random seating techniques
matt girard mathematics teacher

Matt Girard

Mathematics Teacher

  • Access the experiences, knowledge, and creativity of two teachers
  • Exposes the students to various teaching styles
  • Multiple intelligences can be addressed more easily
  • Allows small group work and individual attention
Keys to Success:

Co-planning time


Shared Responsibility (equals)


Benefits of Co-teaching for Students:

Experience different teaching styles

More individual attention

Accommodations are fulfilled

Small group feel in a regular classroom

Benefits of Co-teaching for Teachers:


Homework Check

Missing work / Make-up work

Discipline (consistency)

Shared ancillary tasks

Share “amusing” moments

pass teacher special education teacher
Paul Bornstein

PASS Teacher

Special Education Teacher

PASS (Positive Attitude for Student Success)

The PASS Program is intended to foster compliance with school regulations through the usage of a point and level system that places the onus of responsibility on the students.

See handouts

Movie of a teacher

Removed for posting to ESE website

leslie ruel guidance counselor act teacher
Addressing Students Needs

Leslie Ruel

Guidance Counselor

ACT Teacher

regular education student performance evaluation consultation for teachers

Regular Education Student Performance Evaluation Consultation for Teachers

Goals to Benefit Staff

Maintain an environment that supports and encourages quality teaching.

Provide staff with opportunities to participate in school improvement and the decision making process

Encourage creativity and innovation

Provide ongoing staff development programs and opportunities.

Create applied learning situations that require students to demonstrate proficiencies.

Measure progress in a variety of ways

Hold ourselves responsible and accountable for appropriate use of resources and delivery of quality education.

Goals to Benefit Students
  • Maintain a healthy and safe learning environment.
  • Provide an educational program that develops effective communication skills, a foundation for career skills, and a strong sense of citizenship.
  • Appreciate and accommodate differences in the way students learn.
  • Provide students with the appropriate time and assistance to achieve academic success.
  • Hold high expectations that demand intellectual rigor
  • Integrate learning opportunities that support the development of critical thinking skills.
Five Steps of R.E.S.P.E.C.T

Step One: Teacher Requests Consultation

Step Two: Convener Acts upon request


Step Three: Meeting is Conducted

Step Four: Teacher/Staff Implementation

Strategies & Monitor Student


Step Five: Follow-up Consultation is


Student Success and Curriculum Accommodation Plan

Tool for teachers and students to identify specific needs.

Recognizes student’s academic history (for instance IEP or 504 support, grades, standardized test scores).

Allows recommended actions to be established to ensure student success through accommodations or curriculum modifications (extended time, preferential seating)

Short term and long term goals are established for each student along with strategies to attain the goals.

A plan is developed to measure student success (meeting, review grades etc.)

Alternative Ed Grant
  • Reduce drop out rate
  • Outreach to provide services to students
  • Academic Support
    • Reduce retention rate
      • Provide support for student to pass classes and earn credits
  • Plan for transition to work or higher education
Alternative Ed Grant Goals

Goal 1: High-risk students at Westport High School will be educated to the same standards as all students, will meet the competency determination for a diploma, and will graduate.

Goal 2: Students will develop coping and self-management skills to deal with social, emotional and behavioral issues, and will develop life skills that will enable them to transition successfully into post high school life.

ACT (Alternative Classroom and Transitions Program)

Alternative classroom comprised of 20 at-risk students.

One full-time teacher and one social worker/therapist

One full-time aid for the first year of the program.

R.E.S.P.E.C.T. process initiated enrollment in the program.

ACT Curriculum
  • Life Skills: All students were enrolled in one of two Life Skills classes.
  • Students learned:
    • Career planning (job search, college application process, resume writing, interviewing skills)
    • Communication skills both oral and written.
    • Anger management skills
    • Social skills
    • Study Skills
    • Stress management skills
ACT Curriculum
  • Some students remained in the ACT classroom for an academic course.
  • US History or
  • English
  • The school wide curriculum and rubrics were followed.
  • Behavioral Point system monitored and maintained student’s success in the program.
  • Students were enrolled in other courses outside of the ACT program which allowed for their transition out of the program and a link to regular education teachers.
Promote Student Control in the Classroom By:

Modeling: Model the behavior you want to see from your students.

Corrective Prompts: “the look”, finger over the mouth, slight tap on the desk.

Corrective Strategies: Give the student time to reflect on their situation

-Cool Down Time

-Coupling Statements: Statements which you describe a student’s inappropriate behavior while offering a more appropriate behavior.

-Reality statements and Reasons: Point out potential benefits or negative

outcomes of certain behaviors. It provides students with the “why” of

certain behaviors.

-Empathy: Convince students not to give up on learning a certain skill.

Let the student know that you understand their situation.

Specific Praise: Recognize any appropriate responses or actions the student takes which will reinforce self-control and maintain appropriate behaviors.

Guided Self Correction: A problem-solving strategy, that can be used with a student when he is agreeable and willing to have a conversation with you.

ACT’s Programs

Parent group was created and organized by the ACT teacher/counselor and social worker/therapist.

ACT Council was developed and was comprised of: administrators, special educaiton teachers, regular education teachers, parents, students and guidance, along with middle school assistant principal and local social service agency representative.

Community Connections:

-Bristol Community College: Career development

-University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth: Career development

-SSTAR: local social service agency to assist with social/emotional issues

-Field Trip to Boston for cultural and social skill development

-Memorial Garden: Created and developed by the ACT students in response to the loss of several peers at Westport High School. The Garden allowed ACT students to communicate with their community for donations, assistance and with peers to share in their grief.

-Memorial Garden Service: Annually ACT students and now PROJECT ACTION students organize a service on Memorial Day weekend to commemorate the garden and all lives lost.

Parent Communication Strategies
  • Communicate positive news frequently.
  • Develop incentives with administration and peers to get families to come regularly to your school.
  • When families do visit, make them feel comfortable.
  • Encourage technology (Web pages, phone calls, brief e-mails)
  • Use school to home notes when daily communication is necessary.
  • Recruit parent volunteers.
  • Include parents in decisions that affect the student’s school life. (PTA/PTO, Parent representatives)
ACT’s Successes

Five students graduated from Westport High School as part of the ACT program.

All students enrolled in the ACT program passed their MCAS tests

The Memorial Garden-A perpetual gift to the school and community

Project Action-ACT was the catalyst to the new program being offered to Westport High School Students.

Photograph of students

Removed for posting to ESE website.

Project Action
  • Moved from classroom model to a student center model.
  • All students in with general education population
  • Increased number of student participation (30)
  • Open enrollment throughout the year
  • Can enroll for a single service, or multiple services
  • Services are voluntary and flexible
  • Offers a variety of services providing “voice and choice”
  • Enrollment is team process with family and guidance
Program Development

Maintain R.E.S.P.E.C.T. as gateway

Establish provider contracts

Establish MOU’s with partners

Create the environment

Creating the Environment

Creating the space for community activities and Group Treatment

Maintain technology in the room

Student resource library available

Multiple uses: book club, council meeting, sped social skills group, small group testing, open houses

Creating an Individual Therapy space

Separate entrance for confidentiality

Noise machine

Multiple uses: Family treatment, family meetings, teacher meetings, private testing, space for other community based providers

Establish Rules and Develop Tools
  • Enrollment form
    • Releases of information
      • Empowers student
    • Pre-program assessment of needs and types of services for planning
    • Highlights confidentiality
    • Age of majority for 18 yr. olds
  • Menu of services
    • Interest in program services
    • Link to school clubs and activities
    • Serving on the council
    • Memory Garden
  • Service memo to teachers
WHS Community Partners

STARR- provide drug awareness groups to student in need of support around their own use or the use and abuse of a family member.

Cynthia Poyant has been a Council Member and has provided individual and family counseling to the students in the former ACT classroom and during this past year in Project Action.

Community Counseling of Bristol County will remain active members of the council and will continue to provide individual therapy and psycho-therapy groups within the school setting

St. Anne’s Hospital has offered DRIVE seminars to all WHS students, participated in the Health Fair and provided their Trauma Crisis Team services to the school.

Bristol Community College (BCC) has hosted Project Action students for career exploration/career day, a tour of their campus and meetings with the Admissions and the Financial Aid Departments.

UMASS Dartmouth would like to expose the students at WHS to their Alternative Admissions program and have early identification of students who may benefit from their program.

Project Action Services and Support

Academic and clinical supports

pass teacher study skills teacher
PASS Teacher

Study Skills Teacher

Paul Bornstein

Photograph of a teacher in a classroom.

Removed for posting to ESE website.

Study Skills Syllabus

Week Five:

Strategies for taking notes

Dating entries

Highlighting/underlining key terms


Week Six:


Break down words on basis of prefixes, suffixes and Latin roots

Word association for memory

Week Seven:

Memorization skills

Using flash cards-break down information into smaller parts

Repetition, repetition, repetition

Word association review

Compile list of basic words for memory to be assessed next week

Week Eight:

Memory assessment

Conduct post-course survey

Week One:

Conduct pre-course survey

Being prepared: required materials for classes

Review lay-out of text book components (Table of contents, glossary, index)

Week Two:

Organizational skills

Three-ring binders

Tab dividers

Specifying content divisions (notes, handouts, homework, quizzes/tests)


Separation of courses

Separation information by dating entries

Separation information by chapter sections

Split entries

Week Three:

Outlining skills

Review lay-out of chapters in text book (Headings, subheadings, significance of bold or italicized words)

Complete pre-set outline

Week Four:

Pre-reading strategies

Review week two and determine main topics

Chapter review questions

Refer to outline and determine where the answer is likely to be found without actually answering question

Academic Offerings Matt & Tom
  • Various strategies
    • Real life applications
    • Community connections
    • Structured workshop model
    • Long term project incorporating skills
      • Stock market game
    • Grading
      • Various assessments
  • Environment
    • Classroom setting vs. clinical setting
    • Respecting boundaries
    • Expected behavior
  • Split block
  • Student selection
    • Grouping by grade level
  • Tailored to student needs
    • Student input of needs
    • Student data
Clinical Services Cynthia
  • Groups
    • Life Skills
    • Anger Management
    • Drug awareness
    • New teen empowerment
  • Individual and family
  • Home visit/outreach as needed
  • Crisis intervention with family
  • Available to staff and administration
    • Introduced at staff meetings
    • Visible and accessible to students and family
  • Parent support (groups, family nights)
  • Sit in council meetings
Faculty Support

1:1 consultation available

Faculty updates at staff meetings

Opportunity to serve on council

Opportunities to send staff and providers out for training

Vicarious trauma and self-care workshop brought to teachers

Staff to staff training at faculty meeting

Project Action Council
  • Council Topics:
  • Review enrollment
  • Review service offerings to students, parents, & faculty
  • Assess gaps
  • Plan for sustainability
  • Membership includes:
  • Coordinator
  • District Director of Curriculum
  • Principal
  • Special Education Teacher
  • Students (3)
  • Parent/Guardian (2)
  • Providers
  • Open invitation to Middle School Assistant Principal and all community partners
Photograph of a teacher in a classroom.

Removed for posting to ESE website.

Agenda for Project Action Meeting
  • Tuesday May 20th, 2008
  • 1. Welcome
  • 2. Enrollment in Fourth Quarter Services
  • 3. The 84 Visibility Mini Grant- collaboration with SSTAR and WHS SADD Chapter.
  • Kick Butts Day visibility event – April 2, 2008
      • Health Fair visibility event—April 11th, 2008
      • Matt Reed Walk for MD
  • 4. BCC Career Services- Career Dimensions-May 16th, 2008
  • Interactive career exploration and education planning system for BCC students and Alumni.
  • 5. Staff Training:
      • “Motivating Hard to Reach, Uninterested and Disruptive Students”
      • “Legal Issued in Discipline”-April 16th, 2008
      • “Performance- Based Graduation”- April 15th, 2008
      • “Strategies for Creating Trauma Sensitive Schools”-May 6th, 2008
  • 6. Memory Garden- Memorial Day Recognition-Friday May 23rd
  • 7. Reschedule Mike Aguiar-SSTAR Summer Support
  • 8. Supplemental Grant Application-Public Relations Brochure and PowerPoint
  • 9. Survey (students, parent/guardian, faculty, provider)
Data Gathering and Analysis
  • Year end review
    • Credits
    • Attendance
    • Discipline
      • Detention
      • In-school suspension
      • Out of school suspension
    • Drop out
Survey Says… Quality Assurance
  • Surveys
    • Parents
    • Students
    • Providers

“I participate in monthly council meetings every month along with my grandson. This is great for students. They get to meet with staff and share ideas.” (Parent)

“Life skills program helped him think about things in different ways.” (Parent)

Photographs/movies of two students – one junior and one senior.

Removed for posting to ESE website.

Moving Forward

Earlier identification of post high school planning

Career “one stop” centers

Interest in the armed forces

Eligibility for college support

Eligibility for dual enrollment

Emphasize extracurricular activities and sports

Moved to family night model of support


Seek additional grant opportunities

3rd party billing for clinicians

Provider services offered by different funding streams

Empowering Values/Principles