G9A conference presentation - 2012

Chelsea High School
Freshman Academy
• Why a Freshman Academy
• Goals & Foundations of the Academy
• Student Support and Academy
• Year 1 & Year 2
• Teacher Collaboration & Instruction
• Year 1 & Year 2
• Year 3
• Successes & Challenges of implementation
• Questions
Why a Freshman Academy??
• National Research
• CHS Data
• Programs previously in place for 9th graders
• Freshman Orientation: 3 hour event, 2 days before the
first day of school
• Individual teachers and staff members, guidance
counselors, deans, administrators, social workers,
coaches, club advisors
Chelsea High School
Freshman Academy
• Year 1: Focus on students and
program development
• Year 2: Began shifting the focus to
Student Support
• Transition from middle to high school
• Academic support
• Social/Emotional support
• Policies and discipline
Transition from middle school
to high school
• 8th grade student and parent outreach
• Monthly events held in different locations (middle
schools or high school) and at different times of day
• Familiarize students and parents with the building and
high school policies
• Intro to High School Week: voluntary program that
mixes academics with “high school skills”
• Freshman Orientation: 3 hour event two days before
the first day of school
Academic support
• Remedial sections for core subject areas (mandatory)
• Academic Intervention meetings: students, teachers,
parents (mandatory)
• Peer Tutoring program: during the day, pull-out
model for 3 weeks at a time (mandatory)
• Homework Center: 4 days per week, core subject
area teachers (voluntary)
Social/Emotional support
• Teacher Advocate program: one-on-one meetings
for general student support (mandatory/assigned)
• Repeating 9th grade student meetings: data review
and goal setting (mandatory)
• Peer Mentor program: Juniors and Seniors matched
with 9th grade students for the year (voluntary)
• Social Worker groups: learning values and problemsolving (assigned/voluntary)
Policies and discipline
• Pre-referral system:
• Discipline system before an official discipline referral
• Used for minor infractions
• Students process behavior in order to return to class
• Universal Procedures
• Common for all Academy core classes
• Support students in transition to high school
Academy Programs & Culture
• Efforts to create programs that were unique to the
Freshman Academy and a culture where students
self-identified as being members of the Freshman
• Emphasis on the importance of a successful
Freshman year to a student’s overall high school
• Focus on personalizing the
educational experience of each
Freshman Academy student
Academy Programs & Culture
• Early College Awareness
• College visits (over 100 students each year)
• CHS Alumni Assemblies
• Connection to 8th grade staff
• Peer observations and meetings between 8th & 9th grade
• Data sharing at the end of the school year (at-risk students)
• Student Feedback sessions
• Quarterly “Focus Lunches” to obtain student feedback on
academics and Academy programs
Academy Programs & Culture
• Recognition and Motivation
• Monthly assemblies with topics pertaining to academic
success and future goals
• Quarterly recognition awards for attendance, grades,
and effort (public recognition at assemblies)
• Incentives program in class: “Devil Dollars”
• Freshman Academy parent outreach
• Positive feedback for parents as well as intervention
• Academy culture & identity
• T-shirts, buttons, bulletin boards
•Established Professional Learning
Communities that consist of 9th grade
•Provided structured collaboration time
during the school day
•Implemented early release day and after
school professional development meetings
for Freshman Academy staff members
What is a PLC?
A professional learning
community is made up of
team members who regularly
collaborate toward continued
improvement in meeting
learner needs through a
shared curricular-focused
The benefits to the staff and students
include a reduced isolation of teachers,
better informed and committed teachers,
and academic gains for students.
Hord (1997b) notes, "As an
organizational arrangement, the
professional learning community is seen
as a powerful staff-development
approach and a potent strategy for school
change and improvement."
The Essential Elements of a
• A Shared Mission, Vision, Values, and
• A Commitment to Continuous
• A Collaborative Culture
• Supportive and Shared Leadership
• Supportive Conditions
A PLC is a collaborative venture.
“Isolation is the enemy of learning.
Principals who support the learning of
adults in their school organize
teachers schedules to provide
opportunities for teachers to work,
plan, and think together.”
NAESP, Leading Learning Communities: Standards for What
Principals Should Know and Be Able to Do
PLC Structure at
Chelsea High School
• Interdisciplinary teams made up of core subject area
• All team members teach 3 to 5 freshman classes
• Meetings are held during an administrative duty
period twice per week
• Meetings are mandatory for all members (some have
volunteered but not all)
PLC Meetings
• Collaborate on lesson plans/ideas
• Discuss common practices (UbD, Key 3)
• Discuss Freshman Academy practices (universal
procedures, incentive program, recognition
program, immediate interventions)
• Evaluate student data
• Discuss individual students (progress, problems,
ideas, interventions)
• Meet with individual students and/or parents
PLC Coach
A PLC Coach is a person who supports a
PLC team in using effective teaming practices
and in using data to determine students’
progress. At times, the PLC Coach will ask
questions that allow a team to reflect on its
own practices and processes (or lack of
practices & processes). At times, the PLC
Coach will make recommendations based on
best practice. In all cases, the PLC Coach will
respect the professional expertise of the
teachers with whom he/she is working.
Challenges of Implementing
• Creating and working as teams
• Understanding the importance of
de-privatization of teaching/classrooms
• Struggling with implementation of new Academy
• Wanting immediate results
• Sustaining energy and commitment
Additional Collaboration
• Year 1: Monthly early release days
• Year 2: Two staff meetings (Aug. &
• Professional Development pertaining
to 9th grade staff/students
Chelsea High School
Freshman Academy
• Year 1: Focus on students and program development
• Year 2: Began shifting the focus to instruction
• Year 3: Separate positions
• Grade 9 Coach: Instruction
• Grade 9 Outreach worker: Students
Focus on instruction
New message to students…
need for knowledge, not
New school-wide vision &
CHS Vision of a Graduate
• Chelsea High School graduates will be selfaware, adaptive, socially competent and
literate community members.
The CHS Instructional Theory
of Action
• IF we have a purposeful and
systematic approach to
instruction with collaboration
and reflection THEN our
students will learn, be
confident, and be ready for our
Goal for the Grade 9
New Programs/Services
• MassGrad Student advocates
• Targeted attendance interventions
• Academy-wide goal setting (core classes)
• “Why Try?” groups with deans, social workers and
guidance counselors
• High-achieving student support
• Honor Roll/High Honor Roll
• “Above C-Level”
• Monthly staff meetings: Professional Development
Grade 9 Portfolio
• Beginning the launch of a 9th grade
portfolio project that aims:
• To build connections for students and teachers
about the impact that daily choices have on
establishing and achieving college and career
• To demonstrate college-readiness and careertechnical skills by showing progress made from
freshman to senior year
• It is hoped that the portfolio will travel
with students and be built upon
throughout their high school experience
Continued growth…
• Fostering Academic Support Together (FAST)
• Student Support Team model
• Coordinating systems of support vs. one-time
• Maintaining programs without grant funding, such
as peer tutoring
• Improved parent involvement/connection
Ongoing challenges
• Obtaining longitudinal data from 3 years of the Academy
• Bridge Academy
• Grade 10 house
• Attendance
• Connection with 8th grade staff
• Transfer/mid-year arrival students
• Sustained parent involvement
• Temporary grant funding
Tracking data
• Quarterly grades (all classes and core classes)
• Promotion to the 10th grade (required classes AND
credits) vs. repeating 9th graders
• Attendance rates
• Drop-out rates
• Community & Teacher Advocate program participants
• Intro to High School
• Peer mentor program participants
• Questions?
• Comments?
Thank You
A Short Bibliography for More Information about
Professional Learning Communities
Failure is Not an Option: Six Principles that Guide Student Achievement in High Performing Schools, Alan Blankstein, 2005
Getting Started: Reculturing Schools to Become Professional Learning Communities, Robert Eaker, Richard DuFour, Rebecca DuFour, 2002
Leading Learning Communies: Standards for What Principals Should Know and Be Able to Do, NAESP, 2002
On Common Ground: The Power of Professional Learning Communities, Richard DuFour, Robert Eaker, Rebecca DuFour (Editors), 2005
Professional Learning Communities At Work: Best Practices for Enhancing Student Achievement, Richard DuFour and Robert Eaker
Whatever It Takes: How Professional Learning Communities Respond When Kids Don’t Learn, Richard DuFour, Rebecca DuFour, Robert
Eaker, and Gayle Karhanek, 2004

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