When asked the reason for Adams Elementary School’s success, Principal Parks and Academic Learning Coach, Mr. Connor, both pointed undeniably to teacher commitment to universal goals and meeting individual student’s needs. To meet these needs, teachers make data driven decisions, create universal goals that are attainable for all individuals, and have created an environment that is positive and allows each student to focus and learn.
Data Driven Decision
Three to four times a year, teachers at Adams Elementary School have a Data Retreat, where they review and analyze data regarding student achievement. Teachers split into grade level teams and conduct a detailed examination of individual and universal instruction data. Through these retreats, teachers and support staff are able to hone in on students’ specific needs and construct the curriculum based on these needs. The data retreats provide evidence of student learning, which allows the teachers and staff to be more prepared to meet the student where he or she is at.
As a result of the data retreats and use of Response to Intervention (RtI) students are placed in flexible groups. These groups place students who are academically comparable, with similar needs, together so that they can receive the help and support that is necessary. Data retreats also help teachers and staff to establish specific goals.
Focus on Goals
Goals are established that focus on areas of universal instruction. These are goals that are attainable by all students. Through item analysis areas of concern and necessary specific skills are determined. Teachers are able to adjust goals and make them more specific for each group of students; however, the overall goal is maintained across the grade level.
This is Adams Elementary School’s first year using Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS). Through the use of PBIS, the staff encourages positive behavior by rewarding students. PBIS Coaches were brought in to develop a plan and a matrix of expectations. Students were taught the goals through videos and traveling to different areas of the building to learn different aspects. With PBIS students are rewarded for positive behavior. When students at Adams meet hallway expectations, they are entered into a raffle. Students are also rewarded by being able to pick out things from the school store for participations in Reading in Action, which encourages students to read at home, and for good behavior. The positive climate allows students to focus more on learning and less on behavioral issues. It also enables the development of deeper relationships between teachers and students. Teachers become more of a support system. Students feel cared about.
The student service team, in an effort to meet individual needs, has specific plans for students who struggle socially. These students are allowed a transition time before school, so that they can adjust and be prepared to focus on learning throughout the day. Adams Teachers also utilize the lunch buddies system. Current or previous students, who struggle socially or emotionally, eat with their teacher. Again, this is to create a system of support and comfort for the student.
Commitment to Academic Vocabulary
Adams teachers are committed to making sure that students are prepared for learning by identifying necessary academic vocabulary, and expanding students general vocabulary to include a strong understanding of these words. Teachers and staff emphasize literacy, through making meaning of key vocabulary words.