Sunday, December 16, 2012

Results from 2011-2012 (Academically Strong Students)

A few weeks ago a question was raised about our students who are doing well at school. The question was,  "In this project if we focus on the students at risk, then what are we doing for the students who are strong academically and socially?  Are we letting them down?"

This project was designed with all of our students in mind.  The purpose was to try to make school more engaging and meaningful for all kids, and so we collected data from all of our students hoping to gain feedback about what we were doing well, and what we needed to work on.  In addition to collecting data on all students, we compared data from three smaller groups:  Students who were academically and socially strong, students who were doing average work, and students at-risk of not completing school.   We watched our students at-risk closely, but all students were involved in the classroom based strategies where teachers attempted to make the curriculum more meaningful and connected to students' lives.  Students were given choice, challenged to use their strengths, and were involved in interactive classroom activities.

We surveyed all the students both pre- and post- in order to see how we were doing.  We surveyed them with questions in four areas:  academic confidence (how confident and competent do they feel at school), social engagement (how well they work with others and the teacher), knowledge of their strengths and how to use those strengths in school to help them succeed, and academic engagement (how engaged are they with the learning tasks).

The results in a nutshell:

• the mean score for ALL students went up from pre- to post-
• when comparing the results of the survey for three groups of students, (students who are strong academically and socially, students who are doing average work, and students at-risk of not completing school), the mean score for the students who are strong academically and socially improved the most; followed by the mean score for students at-risk, and then students doing average work.
•  the students who were strong both academically and socially showed an increase in  15/16 questions, one question stayed the same.  Of the 15 questions, there was a .3 or more increase in the mean score for eight questions:  I felt confident and competent, I felt smart, I had a good relationship with my teacher, I had a choice in showing what I know, My strengths and talents were recognized, My strengths and talents helped me perform better in this class, I saw other student’s unique talents and strengths, There was a t least one adult in the school I could talk to.

In summary:

The changes that teachers are making to engage more students, and to have students deal with the content in multiple ways rather than only pen and paper, is having a positive impact on all our students.  The surveys show this, and the interviews with students make it even more apparent as they talk about it being more meaningful, more connected to their lives, easier to remember, more engaging and interactive, and more fun.  In a number of interviews with students who are strong academically and socially, they confided that while these strategies really work for them, they were pretty sure they might even work for kids who are struggling.

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