We'd like to dedicate this post to Dawn Love, a school leader who looked through a lot of intimidating student achievement data and still found something positive. A turnaround school, Lowery Elementary (Ascension Parish Schools, LA) implemented a radical positive behavior support system into its Response to Intervention programs for academics and behavior. In one year from 2013 to 2014, this rural Title I school reduced the number of behavioral infractions by 29% and students in grades 3-5 achieved gains on state assessments. This resulted in an increase of +5.5 points to the school's Louisiana School Performance Score. We encourage you to read the full story, but here are two ingredients of principal love's 'secret recipe' to such a fast school turnaround:
- Focus on the positive - when Dawn took over the school leadership position, she had seen a YoY increase in infractions of 238%. She thought she was in for a rough year until a lightbulb went off - there was too much focus on discipline and calling out negative behaviors. She quickly changed that: "It was more about the punitive piece - giving marks for negative behaviors. Then we saw that the teachers who gave the most positive marks had the best classroom management."
- Intervene in real-time - When Dawn calculated that her students had missed 25,395 minutes of instruction time due to referrals, she knew that she couldn't just wait until a student came to her office to intervene. Dawn turned to data and instilled a shared mindset of using real-time data to keep every school leader and teacher aware of problems as soon as they would arise. "If a student is having a bad day, we [should] intervene early - which might be the difference between getting suspended or staying in school that day."
We loved Dawn's story so much that we wrote a special case study on her success at Lowery Elementary - make sure to check it out! Stay tuned for a follow-up to this post with a video of Lowery's success...
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