Lowest Performing School in County

Discussion in 'General Education' started by YoungTeacherGuy, Apr 16, 2018.

  1. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Aficionado

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    Apr 16, 2018

    This year, there was a lot restructuring in my district. I am new to my current site--as is my principal. The former principal and vice principal were both moved to other sites within our district (no one lost their job...this sort of thing happens every few years). Anyway, there's a ton of pressure on my principal and me because my school is the lowest performing elementary in the entire county (and this is a BIG county). Our scores are atrocious. We start taking the state test next week and I'm so incredibly nervous. Like my principal says, though, we can't get any worse than last place.

    I think a large part of why I'm so tense is the fact that everyone at the D.O. keeps trying to stroke our egos--telling us that we (my principal and me) are the dream team and that our scores will undoubtedly improve this year.

    I do know that we've made a ton of changes this year to the site and regardless of whether or not our scores improve, we've worked our tails off! I've worked more 12 hours days this year than I have in all my other years combined!
     
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  3. Always__Learning

    Always__Learning Comrade

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    Apr 16, 2018

    YTG, I'm sure you and your P have done great work but I would suggest that when we are looking at scores in my District we always look over a 5 year period. I wouldn't put too much pressure on yourself. In contrast, if it was me and my scores went up a ton, I wouldn't be too quick to pat myself on the back either because there are so many other factors at play. I'd just keep doing what you are doing and know that in the long run it will pay off.
     
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  4. Been There

    Been There Habitué

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    Apr 16, 2018

    Welcome to the topsy-turvy world of school administration. It sounds like both you and your boss are relatively new to site administration. Since you didn't pose any questions in your post, I have a few questions of my own:
    • What is the nature of the "ton of changes" that were made this year to the site?
    • What are the major impediments to program improvement at your school?
    • How were teachers involved in the decision-making process for the most far-reaching changes?
    • How would you rate teacher morale at your school, on a scale of 1-5?
     
  5. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Connoisseur

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    Apr 16, 2018

    Wow, such dedication! Well done, my good sir.

    I’ll keep my fingers crossed that your students meet the benchmark. That would be such a great way to end a hectic year. Here’s hoping it works out for you! :D
     
  6. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Aficionado

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    My boss has been a principal for 20+ years. She's getting ready to throw in the towel (my words...not hers) after a remarkable career here in our district. I'm hoping she'll wait another 2-3 years before retiring, though, because I adore her and have learned a TON! She's truly my mentor and someone I admire immensely.

    Upon arriving, the morale was incredibly low. I honestly think it's still low(ish) because we're holding people's feet to the fire now as far as actual teaching in concerned. I taught here about a decade ago and the motto has always been the same amongst the teaching staff: "You (admin) leave me alone and I'll leave you alone." Therefore, teachers weren't used to anyone being in their classrooms other than during scheduled observations.

    Program Improvement (PI) status no longer exists here in CA as of the 2017-2018 school year. Behavior and academic RtI were non-existent at my school, unfortunately. Now, we've got a pretty strong system in place for academic RtI and we're proud of what we've got going during behavioral RtI. We just submitted our application for the Bronze level of PBIS. Our PBIS team of teachers and support staff are satisfied with how far we've come.

    Our Curriculum and Instructional Leadership Team (one teacher per grade-level) has had a strong voice in the decision-making process at our site and it seems like they're pleased with the direction our school is headed.
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2018
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  7. Been There

    Been There Habitué

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    Apr 16, 2018

    Ahhh, much better! Now we can all ditto YoungTeacherGuy's somewhat premature commendation! You're fortunate to have such an exemplary role model which is so rare these days. Good luck on your test scores - they are sometimes slow to rise from the bottom!

    However, I'm still curious as to what major changes were made to restructure the school and how teachers were involved in the decision-making process. How was consensus achieved with the staff?
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2018
  8. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Aficionado

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    Apr 16, 2018

    Since staff meetings were used solely as a means of complaining/venting, we started the Curriculum and Instruction Leadership Team (CILT). Most (nearly all) housekeeping items are discussed at CILT instead of at staff meetings. CILT members bring their grade-level concerns to the monthly meetings and ideas are brainstormed/answers are given/things are clarified. Additionally, there was a concern that Wednesday early-outs (students are dismissed one hour early each Wednesday) weren't being used productively, so CILT members to adopt the PLC model. Grade-levels make an agenda and turn in notes. The notes often have questions for admin, so we answer them within 24 hours.

    Now, monthly staff meeting are used for professional development and as a means for communicating what's going on throughout our district,

    One day last week when my boss and I were coming in from parking lot duty, we met up with a teacher who was on duty with us. She said, "I've got a great idea for how we can make our parking lot run smoother next year. I'll bring it up to my CILT leader so you guys can discuss it during your May meeting." For us, that comment illustrates progress within our school!
     
  9. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Connoisseur

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    I like how the process of making suggestions has been streamlined and kudos to you for asking for teacher input!

    I’m curious, what was that stellar idea that your colleague had to improve carpool duty? :)
     
  10. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Devotee

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    Apr 16, 2018

    Make 'em walk!
     
  11. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Connoisseur

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    Hahaha!
     
  12. miss-m

    miss-m Habitué

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    Apr 17, 2018

    This is going on at my school too, so way to go on sticking with making such difficult changes! The P and AP are new as of last year (my first year), and this year is when everyone is really getting down to whether they want to stick it out or not. I just found out that half the staff applied for transfers.
    BUT, I also see that admin is just doing their best to get all the teachers to do what we're supposed to be doing anyway, and they're under pressure from the state as well. It's a lot, and everyone's frustrated, but hopefully it will pay off.

    I hope your school continues to improve as you go through the next couple years! It sounds like teachers are getting on board with some of your streamlined procedures, which is great!
     
  13. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Aficionado

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    Out of our 30 teachers, 2 are transferring. They're both miserable (they let everyone know how unhappy they are at this school). Hopefully, they find happiness at their new sites.
     
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  14. Missy

    Missy Aficionado

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    Apr 17, 2018

    Good luck!
     
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  15. shoreline02

    shoreline02 Cohort

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    Apr 17, 2018

    I totally agree with AlwaysLearning. The scores you intend/hope for may or may not happen right away. It may take a couple years to see the improvements and for your staff to get a grasp on all the changes and full implementation. I too work in a HUGE district and we're a lower achieving school but DAMN do we try our hardest!
     
  16. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Apr 17, 2018

    Add to the list of Young Teacher Guy's admirable traits his diplomacy.
     
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  17. Teacher234

    Teacher234 Comrade

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    Apr 21, 2018

    Your scores on the big state tests should not be a sole indication of how well your school is performing.
    There are more important factors that actually matter. For example, how is your student support or special education department?
    Annoying and ridiculous big state tests are not the key to being a successful school. A few state people high in the education hierarchy probably have no teaching experience, yet can criticize the schools based on one test that is a waste of time and paper/resources.
    As long as your students are progressing and your departments are successful (at the school-level), your school is doing very well. Again, a big state test can really only assess how well the students are at taking tests (that usually are unfair) and how the student feels that particular day.
    Data collection should be acquired from a wide range of sources. My district has actually opted out of the big state tests.
     
  18. kellzy

    kellzy Comrade

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    Apr 22, 2018

    You could always start a betting pool with administration from other schools to see who will come out on bottom, that way even if you do, you get some small financial reward.
    It's worked wonders on my grade level team's morale for years now.
     
  19. Been There

    Been There Habitué

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    Apr 22, 2018

    Having opted out of state testing, how does your district assess school performance? Just out of curiosity, what percentage of students at your school are reading at grade level?
     
  20. Teacher234

    Teacher234 Comrade

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    Apr 22, 2018

    Our district still uses the standards and assesses the students to see if they are progressing appropriately. For regents testing, the district uses the states. However, the big assessments for elementary and intermediate level have been opted out of. In lieu of this, my district creates their own assessments, similar to what the state would want, but for the sole purpose of assessment of the students and to create an academic intervention plan (if deemed necessary).
    I would say about 60% of our students are on reading level. However, most of the teachers just guesstimate on what the students actual reading level is.
     
  21. Been There

    Been There Habitué

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    Apr 22, 2018

    Thanks for the info. Allowing for a 15% margin of error, my guess is 45-50% of students at your school may be reading at grade level which would bring your school in line with the majority of schools in the rest of the country. The unresolved challenge for everyone is to how to provide the intervention needed to bring the other half up to grade level as quickly as possible, to avoid having them slip farther and farther behind with each passing year.
     

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