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Quality Teacher & Education Act Impact & Innovation Awards 2013

INNOVATIVE PRACTICE
Rationale / Priority (250 words) Hillcrest has the largest elementary school after school program (ASP) in the district. 250 of our 480 students are in ASP from 1:50 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. daily. The dearth of community-based after school programming in our sector of the southeast, combined with our distance from the sites that do exist, led us to intentionally grow our school-based program from only 100 students six years ago to our enrollment of 250 today (and we still have a waiting list!). We go through a very thorough admissions process to ensure that we are prioritizing students for our program with the greatest academic, socioemotional and/or family need. This is never an easy task given our resilient, but under-resourced school community. With an afterschool program the size of a small elementary school, we needed to be extremely intentional around how to broker relationships between ASP and school day staff to ensure minimal push back around classroom usage and sharing of other school resources. We also needed to look for ways to not just prevent the negative, but promote all the positives that are possible with more than 20 hours per week, per student of extended learning time. While our lead agency, Reading Partners, along with SFUSD’s ExCEL, offer many important professional development opportunities around both academic and socio-emotional support strategies, there was need for deeper alignment with the instructional and behavioral strategies from the regular school day in order to fully maximize the opportunity of having the majority of our students on campus 10 hours a day. Three Strategies to Improve School Day and ASP Collaboration 1) Six years ago we began to include the ASP Site Coordinator in weekly administration meetings. This ensured that critical communications were passed on to the members of the ASP staff, that small issues could be resolved before they grew into big ones, and most importantly, that a consistent space was held to explore the ways that both programs could leverage each other’s strengths. 2) Four years ago we began to dedicate one of our three August PD days to a topic relevant to both SFUSD and ASP staff. The focus of the professional development has covered Restorative Practices, Behavioral Response to Intervention, Balanced Literacy and the Effects of Complex Trauma on Children. All after school staff, as well as other community partners are invited to this day. Food is provided, which is the only expense. 3) Three years ago, we repurposed the Lead Teacher position that is a requirement of every ExCEL grant. Traditionally this has been a role occupied by one certificated teacher who helps in homework club, does tutoring and maybe, in the best case scenario, does some level of consultation with the ASP site coordinator. It has not been a role that traditionally focuses on capacity building or alignment. Hillcrest divides the required 170 hours for this position between our Instructional Reform Facilitator, who runs a monthly PLC with ASP staff, as well as doing demonstration lessons, and a grade level lead teacher from Kindergarten through 5th who have two hours per month to meet with the corresponding teachers in ASP to work on alignment of academic and behavioral goals.
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Strategies that were Implemented (250 words)

Quality Teacher & Education Act Impact & Innovation Awards 2013 Implementation factors: # people: # hours: Cost estimate: Other(s): No Additional hours paid for No significant additional Willingness to dedicate additional through ExCEL Lead Teacher cost. Rather a time to cross program people – just Stipend repurposing of funding collaboration. more streams. intentional collaboration. The targeted subgroups for the Hillcrest After School Program are those students with academic, behavioral or familial need. Approximately 95% of our 250 ASP students qualify for free or reduced lunch, are English Language Learners, are African American, or are a combination of these three subgroups. The demonstrated impact of creating defined systems to support school day/ASP collaboration is deep. Here are just a few of the ways we are seeing the results of our intentionality around alignment. Parent Engagement Our families drop their students off at school by 7:50 and for those with children in the after school program, don’t pick up until 6:00 p.m. After school hours are often the only time our parents come into the school. This means that they often have closer day to day relationships with ASP staff than with school day teachers (who, if they are sane, are gone by 6:00 p.m. – although not always!). The intentionality with which we’ve built relationships with our ASP staff means that there is a lot of communication passed from school day teacher, to ASP staff to parents and vice versa. Often these are just small things – “Please remember to sign the field trip form” or “Don’t forget that it’s Pajama Day tomorrow!”– but, depending on the depth of relationship between the teacher, ASP staff and parent, there can also be messaging around academic, behavior or socio-emotional issues from the day – both successes and challenges. Yet, mostly, what is communicated to parents by this cross-program communication is that there are many caring adults who are working together on behalf of their child. This is a powerful message and helps to create trust and engagement with the school. Climate Our highly integrated partnership with our ASP program means that we can easily share school wide behavior norms as well as community and character building strategies. We have recently launched our Hillcrest HAWK (Healthy, Accountable, Wise & Kind) behavior matrix to which all staff, including ASP contributed. It is being used throughout our “seamless day” to ensure that expectations are consistent. Being a HAWK on the playground, in the cafeteria or in the hallway looks the same all day. We also share the same school chant which originated in the ASP and was adopted by the school day. Alignment works both ways! Academics
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Demonstrated Application & Measurable Outcomes (400 words)

Quality Teacher & Education Act Impact & Innovation Awards 2013 Hillcrest’s API has been steadily rising for the last several years. From 679 in 2010-11 to 723 in 201112. Our school day staff have been partnering with Columbia Teachers College for the past three years around Balanced Literacy instruction and our ASP staff have been learning from them and modeling many pieces of Readers and Writers workshop in the after school program. The fact that there is so much cross program communication, from school wide academic goals, to grade level focus to individual student need, means that after school staff are able to very directly support student learning. While there is no way to know for sure, we feel very strongly that without such a deeplyaligned and quality after school program, Hillcrest’s API score would not be rising as fast as it is. Sharing Best Practice (250 words) Every school feels the stress of meeting high academic expectations for students within a six hour school day. Especially with the introduction of the Common Core and looking forward to whatever more rigorous assessment will replace the CST, the small number of instructional minutes in the day feel like they are shrinking. After school programs are a fantastic way to “extend” learning. While much of a quality after school program focuses on enrichment activities and physical fitness, there is a very ripe place for academic teaching and learning to occur as well. Not just homework help, but actual teaching and learning. The key to this is intentionality. Setting up the communication structures to support the cross-program alignment and then making sure that there is accountability in place to ensure that the collaboration is taking place. All SFUSD schools that receive ExCEL funding, which are all the schools with high poverty and underperforming subgroups, are required to identify a Lead Teacher for their after school program. Switching this role from one that is focused on direct service, to one that supports capacity building, is something that can be done by any site. Hillcrest is more than willing to share this practice with others. We could present at the ExCEL August Institute next year, talk individually to sites upon recommendation or write a white paper on the model and our belief in its efficacy.

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