Wednesday, September 24, 2014

PLC: Systemic Response to a Learning Emergency

In many high schools, this week is Interim Week, the week where students and parents are informed about student progress halfway through the grading period.

At Dublin Jerome High School, a National Model Professional Learning Community at Work School and National Blue Ribbon School, not only do we communicate student progress, we act on it.

Do you carefully monitor student progress regularly?  We do-- at the middle and end of four quarterly grading periods per year.  More importantly, do you act on the D's and F's that individual students receive?  For us, it is a learning emergency.  And emergencies need immediate attention.

Here are the series of steps that we take as a Professional Learning Community to provide mandated intervention for students who need additional academic support to be successful:

1. We run a D and F report by grade level, by individual student and by individual teacher.  This allows for data analysis for academic trends as well as identifying individual academic concerns. Both the grade level data and individual student data is provided to every staff member.

2, Teachers submit grades electronically and then determine which students with D's or F's receive a Gold Card ( named after one of our school colors). A Gold Card outlines mandated intervention procedures for students.  Teachers meet with each of their Gold Card students and explain the procedures, which include a student getting 8 signatures that verify the extra academic support the student seeks and receives.  The responsibility then lies with the student. The teacher issuing the card is the first signature and the last signature, signifying it is complete within 4.5 weeks.  Students who receive a Gold Card but seek no assistance meet with an administrator and receive school discipline for insubordination.

3. Teachers send the names, grade level, subject and letter grade to a guidance secretary.  Guidance Counselors, with case loads by alphabet, individually meet with every Gold Card student and also initial the card, ensuring students understand how to get academic intervention according to our pyramid of interventions. Counselors also inform students with a Gold Card of a loss of privileges.

4. Students who receive a Gold Card are  subject to a loss of privileges.  For examples, seniors with early release or late arrival forfeit that privilege with a Gold Card for at least 4.5 weeks.  A section of study hall is built by our registrar so that the period 1 and period 7 study halls account for these new study hall students with attendance.

5. Students with Gold Cards must make arrangements either with their teachers before or after school or during planning time or lunch, or with academic content lab duty teachers to get extra academic intervention with the goal of achieving learning goals, including raising their grades to all A's, B's and C's.

In addition, students with all A's. B's and C's at Interim receive a sticker on their ID every interim and end of the grading period denoting that they have earned special privileges such as being able to leave study hall and go to a number of specially designated comfortable seating areas around the building.

Student success drives every decision we make and a D or F signals a learning emergency that necessitates a systemic response by a number of staff members.  Intervention by invitation doesn't work.  How do you respond when a student is not learning?

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