Strategies for Student Success 2015 - Page 27

“A lot of teachers fear data sometimes, because they’re afraid it will be used as a tool to judge them,” said Ms. Leach. “When you have a supportive environment, it’s not about judgment – it’s about growth.” said. “It’s about the teachers, at the end of the day. They come in every day motivated to make a difference in our students’ lives. They are passionate about their content. They come in early, stay late, and make sure our kids are growing.” Those who are achieving growth in their classrooms take turns leading instructional meetings, said Mr. Malone, and staff members are empowered to take on leadership roles. For example, a particularly hands-on science teacher with a strong subject matter background has been empowered to help train other science teachers and clarify standards, fueling NVA’s big science gains. ELA teacher Rosalie DeMasi is able to provide very specific student reading levels to teachers of other subjects. Science and social studies require heavy reading, and NVA English teachers watch for standards in other subjects requiring high levels of comprehension. Ms. DeMasi works to make sure students have tools to make complex texts more accessible. “I want to preach data all day long, but I recognize that my voice gets a little stale,” Mr. Malone “We’re always looking for ways that we can help students across subject areas,” said Ms. DeMasi. Many students enter NVA classrooms two or three grade levels behind. NVA helps them close gaps – sometimes very quickly. NVA’s use of data helps kids understand their potential, identify goals, and demonstrate progress. Staff members talk openly and frequently with students about results, with many one-on-one meetings. Students always know exactly where they stand. And when students achieve growth, it’s celebrated. Quarterly school-wide festivities give the students something to aim for throughout the year. For example, kids who do well on the year’s first quarterly assessment – which falls right after Halloween – get free admission to NVA’s fall festival. Pizza parties and other in-classroom celebrations are used to reward meeting other goals. Student of the Week accolades recognize noteworthy effort, while students already achieving at high levels are honored with school leadership roles, helping complete peer interventions. Even small gains are celebrated in some way; high fives and encouragement in the hallways are common. 26