Using Your Best to Help the Rest: Another Thought on Intervention
These four key questions have turned our focus to student learning:
- What do we want students to learn?
- How will we know if they have learned it?
- What will we do if they do not learn it?
- What do we do if they already know it?
It has been exciting over the years to see the growth of our students at Lakeridge Junior High as we have committed to increasing the capacity of adults through the processes associated with being a professional learning community. We have been able to turn more of our attention from addressing the needs of those who are not learning to those who are learning, and helping them prepare for college admission.
In working through the processes of a PLC, Lakeridge Junior High has had success helping students who are at risk of not learning, by soliciting the leadership and capabilities of students who already know it. In turn, we have been able to build the college resumes of students who already know it, by giving them a chance to get leadership credit by helping students who are at risk of not learning.
Here are a few examples of how we’ve combined efforts to address the question of what we do for students that are not learning and what we do for students who already know it. The two goals for these efforts were:
- Ensuring those students who are not learning at grade level, learn at grade level.
- Build up the college resumes of those students who are already learning.
Success and Leadership
Each of our incoming seventh grade students are signed up for a course we call success and leadership. Six outstanding ninth graders are put in each course and assigned five seventh graders. The 9th grader is a mentor for their seventh graders in an effort to help them be successful academically, socially, and emotionally in the Junior High School. Since implementing this intervention using our best students, 7th grade failure has decreased by 24%.
Latinos in Action
As we improved our ability to meet the needs of our Hispanic population it became a goal to give them experiences that prepared them for college. Leadership opportunities for Hispanic students were limited. Conversations about these students and students coming for our school below level guided us to implement Latinos in Action.
Latinos in Action is a Leadership/Service class. In this class students are taught how to teach elementary students how to read. Students are bussed three times a week to our feeder elementary schools, to read with Hispanic students. They act as mentors, encourage them that they are capable, and have become role models for these students. Since implementation of this intervention, Hispanic students’ pass rate on the end-of-level English test has increased from 64% to 81%. Since implementation of this intervention, gang related discipline incidents have decreased from 52 to none. Most exciting is we are preparing a generation of Hispanic students for college by giving them the same high school credit as a student involved with student government.
One of the greater challenges we have experienced in our efforts to get all students to learn at high levels has been what I have heard Mike Mattos call our “Intentional Non-Learners.” These include students who do not attend school, refuse to work if they are in school, or in general do not engage us in the education process.
This past year 31 students in our school that were going into their ninth grade year were identified as at risk for failure to graduate from high school. Each student had failed three or more classes as an eighth grader and we knew that if we did not intervene graduation would not be a reality in their life.
These 31 students were placed in one of three graduation success courses (class size of 10) with one of our school counselors being responsible for the course. With each of the courses two of the at-risk students were selected as class leaders. Their job in cooperation with the counselors was to not let any student fail. It was amazing to watch these student leaders, who were at-risk themselves, turn their attention to their fellow students. By the end of their 9th grade year, 28 of the 31 students were on track to graduate from high school.
Each of these interventions and extensions have come about through collaborative conversations, focused on student learning. The results have been incredible for those who struggle to learn and those who are our best. By allowing students to lead out with other students, we not only ensure the learning of those students who struggle to learn, but help build leadership capacity and a sense of service, which we desire from our best students.