Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Plans ensure goals?

Do our plans ensure we will reach our goals?
Building Champions takes a goal, time for a plan, adherence to the plan and support.
This pier from Liberty Island on the north side of the Statue Island points right up to south Manhattan, like it could make it all the way across.  Of course, there is no direct route besides water craft from here but that's what building champions is about...  Doing things differently. What are we going to change at Winfield Middle School?  To answer that, we must know where we are, our current state, benchmark or baseline.  From this data, we can plot plans and steps to reach goals.
At WMS, there have been successes this year in attendance, discipline and grades, all across the spectrum.  There have been fewer write-ups!  But does this mean we don't write the students up as much because they are better behaved or we address things differently?  The grades issued are tending higher but does that mean we are inflating our grades due to pressure?  Attendance is better, and that seems like the only thing we can document as a genuine increase.  The others have a measure of subjectivity behind them.  So let's look at those.
Does fewer write-ups prove the students are better behaved?  Does it mean the teachers are not writing them up because they know nothing will happen?  Does it mean the kids really do want to do the right thing?  Looking at a snapshot like this, we get a partial picture.  We must base things on a standard.  Yes, there are nearly half the amount of incidents this year, but does that mean kids behave better, or are just getting away with things better.  A look at  the love and logic principles indicate consequences and punishment serve two opposing purposes. 
Let's consider both discipline and attendance as indicators of a healthy culture.  If a student is stressed when considering school and what may happen there, the tendency to avoid that situation will increase and attendance may decrease.  This tends to justify the thesis that a healthy school has good attendance and better discipline. 
The correlation regarding discipline is also there.  Improved behavior implies students are in classes more, instead of the office dealing with issues.  They have increased seat time, which alone does not guarantee improvements.  However, it may indicate a healthy culture as well.
Finally, the anecdotal evidence of students mentioning their joy or desire or satisfaction level with school may indicate things are going well.  Regardless of grades, which carry so much sway or influence but really have plenty of interpretation from both the parents, and students as well as the teachers.  But how can we connect all this to truly improve achievement?  How can we say our students are learning more?  How can we verify increases in learning?  Do we have to rely on our state high stakes standardized testing to really measure the success of a school?

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