A program of innovative school improvement for underperforming schools
During the 2014-15 school year, Pahokee Middle School principal Michael Aronson was asked by his superintendent to visit another school in his Florida district, Acreage Pines Elementary, which was an LSI School for Rigor. Aronson observed implementation sessions and side-by-side coaching.
LSI researches and develops next-generation pedagogical models, data systems and professional development for K12 educators at the school and district levels nationwide. With a staff of expert practitioners, consultants and researchers, LSI identifies, develops and disseminates cutting-edge resources such as the Schools for Rigor initiative.
Aronson came away with one clear impression of what the initiative could do for students at Pahokee Middle School.
“I felt like this is the piece that would take us to that next level with our students” Aronson says. “The design of the initiative was right on the money. It motivated our kids, helped our teachers see where we were deficient and got us to a point where we did some magnificent things.”
Implementation and training
Through the Schools for Rigor initiative, LSI works with schools and districts to accurately recognize and coach teaching that leads students to successful mastery of rigorous state standards.
Aronson and Pahokee Middle School teachers learned side by side to develop their pedagogical skills for LSI’s instructional model, the Essentials for Achieving Rigor, which supports teachers as they shift their pedagogy to standards-based, student-centered classrooms.
Also part of the implementation and training for Pahokee Middle School teachers is peer-to-peer learning along with discussing and practicing the fundamentals of rigorous instruction, which focuses on cognitively complex thinking and increased student autonomy. Educators learn to pinpoint exactly where their students struggle and to measure their progress toward standards-based learning targets.
Additionally, Aronson participated in on-site and virtual coaching to help hone his instructional skills and improve his feedback to teachers. Teachers also have access to technology that allows them to deepen their own professional learning and collaboration with peers in a safe environment through the LSI Growth Tracker‚Ñ¢.
All of the long-term struggling Glades area schools achieved gains. Most of Glades elementary schools improved by at least one letter grade in Florida’s school scoring system. Seven of 10 schools in the Glades improved by at least one letter grade, and four schools improved by two letter grades.
After the 2014-15 school year, two Glades area schools were in their final year of state intervention. Both of those schools made statistically significant gains, improving their school grades to “C” and were consequently taken off the state intervention turnaround list.
Aronson says Pahokee Middle School had a 10 percent gain overall in reading, and 16 percent in math, including a 20 percent gain in eighth-grade math. Aronson says Pahokee was set up for success by LSI thorough implementation and training for teachers and administrators.
“Every training that LSI did was sustainable” says Aronson, who is now principal at Pahokee High School. “They made sure that when they were gone we could continue the work.”
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