Implementing a 9th Grade Academy: What Works

2007 Iowa High School Summit

Jane Artman-Andrews, Principal Dr. Betsy Fair, Associate Principal Jean Borgstadt, Counselor James Crandall, Math Teacher Robert Gipson, Science Teacher Esther Molyneux, English Teacher Doug Slothower, Social Studies/Special Education Teacher North High School Davenport, Iowa December 10-11, 2007

North High School Profile
• North High School • 1070 students • 38.3 % Minority Students • 37% of students eligible for Free & Reduced Lunch  • 12.8% IEP

Why 9th Grade Academy?
• Freshmen will need increased skills in the 21st Century workplace. The 9th Grade Academy promotes interpersonal skills, effective use of resources and a high degree of accountability. • All students will have to reach high standards in reading writing, math, speaking, listening and thinking skills. • Students will understand that there are no acceptable excuses for poor attendance, incomplete school work, or inappropriate behavior.

• “Educators say students who complete 9th grade are likely to earn a diploma. Studies have shown that if students earn fewer than 3 credits, rather than the normal 6, as freshmen, there’s a 90 % probability they’ll drop out.”Washington • “Studies show that the students in the 9th grade have the highest number of discipline incidents and retentions are most likely to drop out.” National School
Board Association Post

“Most 9th graders move to a larger school where they are expected to adapt to a variety of instructional styles and conform to a different set of rules and expectations. 9th graders often get overwhelmed by al the changes in a large, anonymous and sometimes alienating high school. At the same time, parents tend to become less involved in their child’s education. Some schools provide support to 9th graders to gain selfconfidence, important social and academic skills.” National School Board Association

Who teaches in 9th Grade Academy?
 Teachers with these characteristics: --flexibility, persistence, positive attitude, dedication --willingness and ability to work with at-risk students --believe content is important --believe students can learn content --believe teacher can make a difference --possess communication skills

9th Grade Teachers Must Believe in 3 things:
• Believe that teaching the subject matter is important. • Believe that the students can learn the subject matter. • Believe that the you (teacher) can make a difference in the lives of students.

North’s Team Design*
• Three collaborative teams (Houses). • Four teachers from the four core areas focusing first on student decision-making and student success. • Associate Principal & counselor assigned to supervise academy • Teachers on each team share a common time during the day. • Students are mixed heterogeneously/randomly—no weak team. • 9th Grade Academy includes all first-time freshmen. • Academy classrooms are located on the main hall way as of 2007-8. • Academy expectations are taught in ALL team classes. *Based on Breaking Ranks twelve key practices that have the most tangible and replicable results.

Administrator’s Role
• Identify the need—Get faculty to identify areas of concern, put data in front of teachers and give them time to interpret it, and get faculty to accept responsibility for improving matters. • Create interest in supporting freshmen and mentor 9th grade teachers to collaborate and to reach consensus. • Make it happen! Inspect what you expect on regular/routine basis. • Keep it fueled long-term; prove it works; and ensure sustainability.

What Works in 9th Grade Academy?
• Collaboration of administrators, teachers, students, parents/guardians • A culture that is welcoming, accepting, hopeful and flexible. • Standardized expectations, established routine, persistence, and consistent. • Organization & Time Management Effective use of Planners /Passes • Seating Charts-Changing often • Student Recognition • Family/Parent Contact • On-going evaluation and Data Collection

What happens in team time?
• September-Meet for 30 minutes each day. October-Meet 3 times a week for 30 minutes. November through May meet 2 times a week for 45 minutes. • Teachers discuss students of concern, student academics, program development, student schedules, classroom management, contact parents, hold parent conferences and meet with students to address student attitudes and behaviors. • Discuss strategies how to reach individual students. Focus on choices student’s make. • When students meet the team, student leaves after signing an action plan to improve academics/behavior. • Student is first intervention along with counselor; parent contact is next step to address inaction by student.

Common Classroom Expectations
• Be on time and in the room when the bell rings prepared for class. • All assignments are completed and turned in when due. • Students should respect themselves, each other, teachers and classroom equipment, use only schoolappropriate and responsible language, and maintain school appropriate physical contact in the classroom at all times.

Consistent Common Classroom Discipline Procedure • Warning • Consequence for continuing behavior after warning, i.e., another talk with student and a phone call home • Referral to office as well as student meeting with all teachers during team meeting

9th Grade Transition Activities
       

Parent/Student Registration Night-January School Board Presentation-February/December 2007 Shadow Day—April/May Jump Academy-August 9th Grade Cookout & Orientation-August Lock-In—Overnight in school--September 9th Grade Recognition/Role Models Feb/May Quarterly Motivation Speakers—Superintendent, College admissions director, etc.
“Thinking About Your Future: What you need to know!”
“GPA, Credits, Graduation Requirements Overview”

    

9th Grade Picture/Music CD Parent Manual Teen Screen Bandag-Covey Leadership Training ACT-Plan Test-November--Follow-up-10th Grade

On-Going 9th Grade Transition Activities…
• North sponsored a “Shadow Day” for students identified by teachers, counselors and administration at feeder intermediate schools to attend classes at the high school in April/May accompanied by a current 9th grade ambassador. • Students had a short question and answer period hosted by North’s Student Ambassadors prior to the start of the school day and at the end of the day. The students then paired up with their Student Ambassador and attended classes with them for the remainder of the day. Students participating received a North T-Shirt. • 9th Grade Lock-In held at school after football game. Administration, staff, National Guard volunteers, parents and other community volunteers spent from 10:00 PM to 6:00 AM with 9th grade students. Movies were set up in IMC, athletic activities occurred in the gym, video games were played in the foyer to the large gym, groups could swim at the Y, dancing was in the cafeteria and board games/cards as well.

Shadow Day

North sponsored a “Shadow Day” for students identified by teachers, counselors and administration at feeder intermediate schools to help make the transition from intermediate school to the high school an easier one.

9th Grade Lock-In

9th Grade School Board Presentation

Teachers and students shared their reflections of academy with a presentation to the school board in February.

9th Grade Recognition Assembly

Students received certificates for academics, improvement, citizenship, and leadership skills.

Mandatory 5th Block
• These mandatory extra help sessions support freshmen to fulfill the high school expectation that in high school homework completion is expected and necessary—no excuses. • Parents are informed that their student must attend either by note, phone call or email. • Two ninth grade core content area team members supervise each session. • If students make up missing tests or turn in missing assignments by the morning of the scheduled required extra help session, the student will be excused from 5th Block.

5th Block Works
• Student results are very positive. • Approximately one-third of the students assigned, make up their missing work before they have to attend 5th Block. • One-third of the students who are assigned attend and make-up their incomplete work. • The remaining one-third of students has not attended for a number of reasons.

What did teams learn…..
• Students do not comprehend GPA, credits or state extra-curricular eligibility regulations. • Students make poor decisions that impact their academic and career decisions. • Some students do not want any help. • 9th Grade Academy teachers’ efforts make a difference! • 9th Grade Academy prevented some students from dropping out of school.

• Freshmen discipline referrals were lower in 2006-7. • 9th Grade Academy helped some students earn sufficient credits to move on to sophomore credit status. • Freshmen attendance increased in 2006-7. • Freshmen parent contacts surpasses previous years. • Freshmen failures are lower in 2006-7.

What does data show?
North High School 9th Grade Academy Data 2006-7
The following chart is our 9th Grade Academy data collected during our first year of implementation.

Number of 9th Grade Parent/ Teacher Conferences 2006-7 197 (9-27-06) 9th Grade Referrals 2nd Term 39/279 14% 154 1st Term 129 (11-29-06) 125 (2-21-07 90 (5-2-07) 9th Grade Referrals 4th Term 65/253 25% 245 4th Term

Number of 9th Grade Teacher Discipline referrals-2006-7 9th Grade Referrals First Term 27 /188 14% 9th Grade Referrals 3rd Term 37/239 15% 255 2nd Term

Number of 9th Grade Teacher parent Contacts- 2006-7 Phone Calls, Emails and Conferences 37/7% 1st Term 46/ 9% 3rd Term 17l 3rd Term

Number of 9th Grade Class Failures- 2006-7 49/9.5% 2nd Term 40/ 8.5% 4th Term Failures 8.5 % 1st Semester 2006-7 All Year Failures 8.9%

What do students say?
• “I like the 9th grade academy because they help you out more with your work and take out extra time in helping you get good grades,” comments a 9th grade student’s reflection on his academy experience reporting to the school board meeting last spring. • “…I like the 9th Grade Academy because it gives us a chance to adapt to high school and all of the new things it has to offer.” • “Not having been to this building before, I was totally lost as to where I was. I had no idea I was going to be in combined classes with upperclassmen. This worried me a bit because I didn’t think I was going to make friends and fit in. I ended up making a lot of new friends and reuniting with old ones in other classes that were FRESHMEN ONLY.”

What do parents say?
“As a parent with a daughter in the 9th grade at NHS, I just wanted to extend a word of appreciation to you and the NGA Team for all the efforts you made this year. As this is the 4th child I’ve had at North High School, I can truly recognize the improvement that has been made over the years in the transition process for these students. While my daughter started the year with anxiety and uncertainty, she has blossomed and speaks of her disappointment that this school year has to come to an end, because the experience exceeded her expectations as a freshman. The awards ceremony yesterday was a testimony to everyone’s efforts. Keep up the good work.”

Core Course Success Results
2006-7 9th Grade Academy Core Course Success Data 9th Grade Core Courses % of Succe ss 86% 85% 88% 95% 89% 96% 98% 88% 85% 96% 96% 89% % of Failur e 14% 15% 12% 5% 11% 4% 2% 12% 15% 3.75% 3.75% 11% # of Failures Total Students Algebra Algebra Principles Cognitive Tutor Algebra
Cognitive Tutor Algebra Principles

13` 15 10 8 5 6 5 25 31 3 3 45

96 99 83 150 93 148 244 208 206 40 40 404

Earth Science Molecular Biology Investigative Biology Intro. To Literature English Strategies English Foundations English Honors Social Studies 9

2007-8 Data
2005-6 79 earned less than 6 credits 2006-7 23 earned less than 6 credits
2007-8 Number of 9th Grade Parent Teacher Conferences 219 September 26, 2007 107 November 28, 2007

2007-8 Number of Parent/Teacher Contacts Phone calls, emails and team parent conference s 399 1 Term

Where do we go from here?
• Reapply for federal Small Learning Communities Grant—January 2008 • Work on improving existing structure in many ways. • Prepare for 10-12 Career Pathways and eventual thematic career academies based on the state of Iowa 6 Pathways • Need to track student interventions that made a difference. • Discussion of 10th grade academy in modified format.

9th Grade Academy Resources
• Dave Shepard • Alan Veach • Scott Habeeb, Ray Moore, & Aland Seibert  Bill Denny • Billie Donegan

North High School
• Jane Artman-Andrews, Principal  Dr. Betsy Fair, Associate Principal of Academy
Resources on Change and Team Building Skills Our Iceberg is Melting by John Kotter New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2006. Death By Meeting by Patrick Lencioni Jossey-Bass, 2004. Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni Jossey-Bass, 2002. The Fred Factor by Mark Sanborn New York: Doubleday, 2004. “Freshman Academies on A Shoestring” Principal Leadership. March 2007. “Academy Rewards,” NEA Today. March 2007. Freshmen Transition Initiative.