A Clearinghouse for Martensdale-St. Marys Community Schools Professional Development

Monday, November 8, 2010

Whatever It Takes, Chapter 3

Upon completing your PLC groups' reading/discussion of the "Common Core Fact Sheet", you are to continue working together to read and discuss the third chapter in DuFour's book. Despite the chapter's focus on a high school's "response when kids don't learn," there are other elements of the chapter that apply to students, instructors, and administrators at all levels. As with previous chapters, the content (and subsequent discussion questions) of the chapter challenges assumptions and perceptions about our staff, our students, and our profession as a whole. It is important we address these tough questions with an open mind if we are going to better serve our students. The staff as a whole has done an excellent job with the book thus far - keep up the great work!

1. This chapter reflects on the varying explanations and reasons offered at Adlai Stevenson High School in the early 1980s as to why students were not being successful. What explanations are offered at your school?

2. How did Stevenson High School . . .
a. Identify students who needed additional time and support for learning?
b. Provide this additional time and support?

3. Generate a list of the various steps the school created to give students additional time and support.
a. Which steps could be easily adopted in your school or adapted to meet the needs of your students?
b. Which steps could be adopted or adapted after considerable effort?
c. Which steps would be impossible to adopt or adapt in your school?

**If you are not able to complete your discussion of this content during PD, remember you may use your collaboration time to continue your work**


  1. 1. What explanations are offered at your school? Lack of parental support. Failing used to be an option, it is no longer an option. Lack of motivation from students. Students are often lazy and they don't see the importance. Parent's education level is reflective of the student's work.

    2. How did Stevenson High School . . .
    a. Identify students who needed additional time and support for learning? It was based on their test scores, counselor interviews, teacher forms, and parent meetings.
    b. Provide this additional time and support? They created a lot of programs and they didn't overlap sports and academics. The school is requiring more and the parents are dictating less. Extra staff has to be put in place.

    3. Generate a list of the various steps the school created to give students additional time and support.
    a. Which steps could be easily adopted in your school or adapted to meet the needs of your students? We already do the frequent progress montoring. We have the advisor and advisee program in place in the high school. We think parents could be more involved and take more responsibility.
    b. Which steps could be adopted or adapted after considerable effort? Guided study groups, more personnel...like more counselors, teachers to work with the kids and lower study hall numbers. Mandatory tutoring might be a possibility with parental education on why the tutoring is possible.
    c. Which steps would be impossible to adopt or adapt in your school?
    All of this is possible, but would take a large amount of money, support from teachers and parents to make it work.

  2. Rana Webster, Terah Henson, Kim Burns and Brian Spanhut

    1. Falling through the cracks, lack of parent communication, student communication, and teacher communication. Technology takes up to much time is something we have heard talked about. Expectations need to be discuss more. Work ethic is questioned.

    2. a. They became proactive. Parent communication, set learning goals, counselor watch goals, and summer study skills.
    b. Schedule adjusted, community involvement, freshman mentors, family contract, SST, Good Friend program.

    3. Mentors, student support teams, tutoring, sports changes.
    b. all with considerable effort, but we can achieve goals once they have been communicated.
    c. whatever it takes

  3. by Mollie, Dianne, Amanda P., Jen P., Sara F.

    1. Teachers let students pass through without making sure they have mastered skills and concepts they struggled with, or they do not want to complete the BAT process. Parents and teachers need to communicate with one another about student progress more than on a quarterly basis. Teachers don't want to work lots of extra unpaid hours to make sure each student is caught up. Student motivation also plays a huge part in academic success.
    2.a. Students needing additional time and support were identified by the following means: tests, counselor watch, proactive student registration, summer study skills course, good friend program, counselor check-in program, freshman orientation day, freshman advisory program, freshman mentor program, co-curricular program participation requirement
    2.b. student support team, conferencing and optional tutoring, mandatory tutoring program, guided study program, mentor program

    3.a. Steps our school could adopt are the Good Friend Program, Conferencing & Optional Tutoring
    3.b. Steps our school could adopt with much effort are the Student Support Team, Mandatory Tutoring Program, Guided Study Program, Mentor Program
    3.c. Steps that would be impossible to adopt at our school are none of the above. With appropriate scheduling and resources, we could implement these programs. It's all about the leadership, guidance, and training teacher's receive.

  4. Question 1: Why aren’t students successful?

    Social-economic factors – Student home life can be a factor with our students. If students don’t have the support outside of school it’s harder for them to succeed in their academic work. Family priorities may not be established where academics are the most important.

    Question 2: How did Stevenson High…

    a)Identify students for extra help?
    Proficiency tests

    b)Provide additional time and support?
    They provided extra courses and programs that assisted students in their academic and
    social environments. Some of these were in
    the summer months.

    Question 3: Which steps can we use…

    The school created a number of programs such as summer study skills courses, the good friend program, counselor check-in program, freshman advisory and mentor programs, as well as participation and co-curricular programs. In addition to all the programs, they provided interventions that had optional and mandatory tutoring, guided study, and general mentoring.

    a)Summer study, counselor check-in, intervention time & advisor/advisee

    b)Participation in co-curricular programs,
    counselor check-in, mentoring, tutoring

    c)Guided study is near impossible for
    elementary level students

    - Kara, Kate, Amanda, Barb

  5. 1. Motivation is our biggest concern. We, along with Stevenson, struggle to get students to reach their potential. The work ethic and sense of entitlement in the current generation are unique challenges in helping kids succeed. Students with difficult behaviors are often “coddled” rather than forced to behave, participate, and achieve. Society in general has a skewed idea of what school s and achievement should be. Instead of making the “hard” decisions, leaders in education often make the “safe” decisions.
    a. A placement test in 8th grade was the starting point. They also looked at attendance, behavior, family problems, self-esteem and other potential problems. They had a chance to improve before they even got to high school.
    b. The summer study skills course taught necessary skills for high school and communication with parents was part of developing a relationship prior to high school. In February students, parents, and counselors work together to plan their schedule. The guided study program, mentoring program, tutoring and the period built into the day for time with upperclassman, counselors, and mentors.
    a. We offer the freshman advisory and as a small school, middle school students are aware of the layout of high school more than other schools. We could strengthen the tutoring program by having older students tutoring younger students during early in and early out.
    b. They all could be instituted with effort if the proper support and funding is available.
    c. The hardest programs are going to be the programs that cost money. The summer course would be an obstacle because of the funding. Some students may not be interested in extracurricular activities

  6. PLC Group #1: Caleb, Don, Noel, Paula

    1. Many students here lack motivation. Many don't understand how what they are learning now will help them later. Many kids lack studying skills and also work ethic.

    2. a. Placement by proficiency rather than by caps and quotas.
    b. They accelerated their schooling to a 2 year launching pad so that students had access to college prep classes the final 2 years.

    3. proactive student registration, summer study skills courses, good friends program, counselor check-in program, tutoring, freshman advisory/mentoring programs, student support team, etc
    a. Summer study skills courses would be fairly easy to use, as we kind of already do. Proactive student registration would be easy as well because we have the best guidance counselor ever. We kind of do the good friend program with our adviser/advisee program, we would just have to tweak it.
    b. The counselor check-in program, tutoring, student support team, and freshman programs would all take some considerable time implementing and adapting in our school and would be fairly difficult as well.
    c. None of them would really be impossible.

  7. Hatcher Group Says:
    1. Time, notification of students in need at even an earlier age (5th-6th). Lack of caring by the student and lack of parental support(MOST IMPORTANT THING).

    2. A. Normed identifying tests, teacher interviews, parental interviews, and student interviews. In depth research into the student during the 8th grade.
    B. Removal from SH and summer school opportunities. Structured protocols for continued success achievement.

    3. A. Removal from JH electives if missing work, or grades are D or Below. Sent to Mandatory Tutoring. Pro-active registration with parents.
    B. Wholesale changing schedules. Need for 2.5 teachers per core. Summer study skills class.
    C. Continued proficiency tests in 3-6 week increments with moving of schedules at those times based on scores.

  8. 1. Lack of motivation, a lack of a feeling of relevance of the material. We dont have much of a transitional period to help kids feel more comfortable when they are entering their high school years. Students are never taught study skills or how to be organized. Students need to be taught how to use their planners. Do we get enough information from parents as to how home life is outside of school?

    2a. They created an 8th grade test to help track students. They built shared knowledge about the students with parents, administrators and teachers. 3 week progress reports.

    2b. Counselor-Watch using a referral sheet for students who met certain criteria.

    Summer program for students.

    Good-Friend Program, System of Transition, Mentor Program, Mandatory Tutoring Program, Frequent monitoring.

    3a. An advisory program, a mentor program, and parts of the Counseler-Watch programs.

    3b. Summer study skills programs, other parts of the Counseler-Watch program, mandatory tutoring a co-curricular fair.

    3c. Hiring more staff and having more space to get some of the above things done. Student support teams because of staffing again.