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MADISON MIDDLE SCHOOL MOTIVATING SIXTH GRADE STUDENTS WITH SMALL LEARNING COMMUNITIES. Superintendent’s Urban Principal Initiative (SUPI). Dr. Tonya S. Dillard, Principal Ms. Gina Spicer, Assistant Principal Mr. Dexter Saunders, Teacher Leader 2007-2008. Abstract of the Study.

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slide1

MADISON MIDDLE SCHOOLMOTIVATING SIXTH GRADESTUDENTS WITH SMALL LEARNING COMMUNITIES

Superintendent’s Urban Principal Initiative (SUPI)

Dr. Tonya S. Dillard, Principal

Ms. Gina Spicer, Assistant Principal

Mr. Dexter Saunders, Teacher Leader

2007-2008

slide2

Abstract of the Study

The study explores what happens in sixth grade when Small Learning Communities are implemented in an urban middle school. Results showed an improvement in school climate among sixth grade students and an improvement in student achievement in math.

slide3

Introduction/Background

  • Madison Middle School serves approximately 600 students of which 89% are economically disadvantaged; 5% are Limited English Proficient (LEP) students; and 21% are enrolled in the Special Education Program.
  • Student Demograhpics:
  • 66% African American
  • 33% Hispanic
  • 1% White
slide4

Introduction/Background

We were concerned about the difficulty sixth grade students experienced adapting to the middle school. Sixth grade students performed below the other grade levels in learning gains in both reading and math over the last three years.

They experienced difficulty adjusting to the middle school setting, with multiple teachers and classes to navigate. This can impact student motivation to learn, their attitudes about school and learning gains.

slide5

Introduction/Background

We set out to change the organizational structure and climate, creating two small learning communities by teaming students and teachers in the sixth grade. Each team is comprised of approximately 100 students and four teachers. The teachers plan together once weekly.

problem with learning gains reading 6 th grade
Problem with Learning Gains Reading (6th Grade)
  • We analyzed FCAT Scores (SSS)
  • We compared grades 6, 7 and 8 for the last three years
  • We discovered a problem with learning gains in 6th grade
problem with learning gains math 6 th grade
Problem with Learning Gains Math (6th Grade)
  • We analyzed FCAT Scores (SSS)
  • We compared grades 6, 7 and 8 for the last three years
  • We discovered a problem with learning gains in 6th grade
school climate problem students
School Climate Problem - Students

School Climate Survey 2007: Adults at my school help me when I need it:

  • We analyzed School Climate Survey Results (students)
  • We identified areas of concern
slide9

Research Question

What will happen in sixth grade when small learning communities are implemented in an urban middle school?

slide10

Additional Research Questions

  • How will small learning communities impact student learning gains in reading?
  • How will small learning communities impact student learning gains in math?
  • How will small learning communities impact student motivation and attitudes toward school?
slide11

Literature Review

  • Small Learning Communities (SLC):
  • The process of organizing schools into small academies has been evolving over the past four decades.
  • The basic notion of SLC’s is that an interdisciplinary team of teachers shares a few hundred students or less and are given flexibility to address the students’ needs. (Oxley, 2005)
slide12

Literature Review – Small Learning Communities:

Cotton (2001) identifies five key elements of successful SLC’s

Promote self determination of teachers and students to be proactive.

Develop identity as a group.

Personalize the relationships among teachers and student.

Support teachers to assume responsibility for educating all students.

Require functional accountability for learning and student achievement.

slide13

Intervention

  • Students in the sixth grade were scheduled in teams with the same teachers in Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies and Physical Education.
  • Two teams of approximately 100 students were formed, each with a heterogeneous mix of remedial, regular and advanced classes.
  • Teachers met once weekly to plan activities, interdisciplinary lessons and review student performance data.
slide14

Intervention – Cont’d

  • Each team occupied a series of classrooms in close physical proximity, but apart from the rest of the school building.
  • Parents and students attended an orientation prior to the opening of school where they met each other, their teachers and counselors. Parents and students achieved 100% completion of Sixth Grade Family Student School Agreements
  • Two veteran teachers served as team leaders.
  • Team leaders provided a point of access for parents to set up team conferences to track student progress.
slide15

Intervention – Cont’d

  • Teachers on the teams participated in professional development each Wednesday.
  • Professional development topics included team building, interdisciplinary planning, data analysis, curriculum development, group process skills, improving school culture and building capacity for advanced academics.
  • Team teachers studied the results of progress tests and conducted data chats with their students.
slide16

Intervention – Cont’d

  • The teams planned activities, award programs, student recognition, field trips and other motivational events for their students.
  • Teams met with parents on back to school night and by parent and/or teacher request.
  • Students in the SPED program were included in a co-teaching model to increase time with non-disabled peers and access to higher level instruction.
slide17

Intervention – Cont’d

  • Sixth grade students participated in after school tutoring, and after school All-Stars.
  • Students used portable lap top computer labs to access technology-based instruction.
  • An Academic Improvement Period was combined with homeroom to allow more personalization.
  • Students met in small groups to receive intensive instruction through pull-out coaching sessions in reading and math.
slide18

Data Collection and Analysis

  • WE USED A VARIETY OF TOOLS TO COLLECT AND ASSESS DATA
          • SnapShot Data
          • Edusoft – Interim Assessments
          • Longitudinal FCAT data on learning gains
          • School Climate Survey 2007
          • Sixth Grade Student Climate Survey 2008 (School Developed Survey)
          • Sixth Grade Family Student Agreements
slide19

Findings/Results – Reading and MathInterim Assessment

  • Average score of sixth grade students on the January Interim Assessment Test
  • Reading – Increase of four percentage points in the average score
  • Math – Decline of four percentage points in average score
slide20

Findings/Results – Reading and MathFCAT Norm Referenced Test (NRT)

National Percentile Rank (NPR) of sixth grade students

  • Reading – Decline of five percentage points when comparing 2007 to 2008.
  • Math – Increase of seven percentage points during last two years.
slide21

Findings/Results – School Climate - Parents

  • Parents and students achieved 97.4% completion of Sixth Grade Family Student School Agreements
findings results school climate survey adults at my school help me when i need it
Findings/ResultsSchool Climate Survey“Adults at my school help me when I need it”

School Climate Survey 2007 (All Students)

School Climate Survey 2008 (6th Grade):

Improvement of 44 percentage points!

slide23

Findings/Results – School ClimatePercent of students in agreement with the following statements

  • Adults at my school care about me
  • Adults at my school help me when I need it
  • I feel safe at my school
  • I like coming to my school
  • I am getting a good education at my school
  • The overall climate at my school is positive

and helps me learn

2007 2008

  • 33% 51%
  • 22% 64%
  • 28% 43%
  • 32% 48%
  • 40% 51%
  • 25% 49%
slide24

Conclusions

Overall, the implementation of small learning communities has positively impacted the sixth grade students at Madison Middle School. The most significant positive changes were seen in the results of the school climate survey completed by sixth grade students. Reading and Math performance showed improvement. The average score in Reading on the January interim assessment improved by four percentage points compared to last year. In math, sixth grade students improved their National Percentile Rank (NPR) on the FCAT Norm Referenced Test (NRT) by six percentage points when comparing 2007 and 2008.

slide25

Recommendations

  • Continue the implementation of small learning communities
  • Expand to include all grade levels
  • Administer a pre and post survey to parents, teachers, and staff
  • Solicit more feedback and follow up from teachers and staff to improve the implementation of SLC’s
  • Develop and implement Comprehensive Family Involvement Plan including goals, objectives, strategies and evaluation
  • Conduct further research to address declining and inconsistent performance in the area of sixth grade reading
slide26

Sources

  • Cotton, K. (2001) New Small Learning Communities:: Findings from recent literature. Northwest Regional Educational Lab, Portland, OR

.

  • Miami-Dade County Public Schools (2006). Secondary School Reform Plan, Miami, FL.
  • National High School Association (2005) A Call to Action, Washington D.C. Institute of Educational Leadership
  • Oxley, D. (2005). Small Learning Communities: Implementing and Deepening Practice, Northwest Regional Educational Lab, Portland, OR.
slide27

Acknowledgements

  • Cynthia Clarke, Assistant Superintendent, Leadership Development
  • Michael Sell, District Director Leadership Development
  • Dr. Rosann Sidener, Principal Miami Beach Senior
  • Debbie Stevens, Professional Partner Retired M-DCPS Principal
  • Jill Farrell, Ed.D., Professor Barry University
  • Professor Greenberg