It is that time of year! The light at the end of the tunnel is right ahead, with the sun shining bright for summer break! Now is the time for teachers to review students’ progress to determine the mastery of the grade-level skills required!
“Hold me back? You can’t hold me back; my friends will make fun of me!”
The interruptions to student learning had a direct impact on each child. Anytime a child experiences a change or disruption to their routine, an effect is felt. The answer has never been to have a child remain in the same grade level. Professor John Hattie has identified retention as one of the negative educational practices impacting student achievement.
The reaction stated above is similar to many I have heard. Transitioning to the middle school level as an administrator, I found a grade span from 6th-8th grade with students up to 17 years old. What? How can I have 15, 16, and 17-year-old students? Investigating, I discovered multiple times that these students had been retained and were still not mastering skills.
- We first needed to identify all students who did not master the skills required for each grade level.
- Then identify students who have been retained at any time during their educational career (Number of times and at what grade level)
- Utilize data to identify specific skill needs
- Develop intervention plans for students
- Implement interventions with progress monitoring
- Recommendations for additional after school, home and summer school programs
Providing students with what they need is a priority. In place was a summer school program that was conditional on repeating course work from the school year in the same manner, which looked like a punishment to students instead of a way to improve.
Additional ways to support students in a continuous process include clear communication and sharing information between transitions. Losing time by not communicating intervention plans and taking time for teams to have transition meetings hurt the progression of student achievement. Collaboration and understanding the student’s needs is the key to closing the gaps by addressing these with an implementation plan of interventions that work.
- Developing student leadership teams
- Support peer to peer learning
- Coordinate family learning nights-Parents attend evenings to learn how to support children in areas specific to their needs
- Data and Dessert nights- Families and students can attend sessions to see how they perform for their grade level skills. Teachers and Administrators can also participate in an evening to work together to identify gaps in the curriculum.
- Student-Led Conferences support students’ in control of their learning paths as they identify areas of strength, set goals, and describe what they will do to improve areas and the support they need.
We can dig deeper into the areas to get specifics, models, templates, and ways to work to continue to improve. When discovering solutions, the best part is you always find more! More and more, we can do together to make it better for everyone involved.