How one Atlanta school increased academic scores by focusing on Kickboard culture data
Kindezi West is a public charter school in Atlanta, Georgia. It was the first school to open in the Kindezi Schools Charter Network in 2010, serving students in kindergarten through eighth grade.
Kindezi School West
Atlanta Public Charter School
- 10% receive special education services
- 100% of families are low income
- 90% African American
- 2% Hispanic
- 4% White
- 4% other
Kindezi West’s population grew quickly because of its reputation for supporting students with high needs effectively. This was exciting but challenging because as families flocked to the school, it did not have the infrastructure to provide the most effective resources to the growing high needs population. Students started mimicking off task and disruptive behaviors and many classroom cultures shifted from mostly positive to where negative and off-task behaviors were the norm. Teachers were struggling to keep off-task behavior to a minimum and smaller behaviors escalated to larger, more severe behaviors.
The teachers at Kindezi West did not have an efficient way of tracking positive and negative behaviors. They used a behavior tracking system that did not have tools for effective data analysis. This led teachers to make ineffective changes to their PBIS systems because they did not determine the specific root causes of negative behaviors. Teachers were trying to implement strategies and make positive changes but their efforts were not effective.
Administration and staff knew it was time for a change. They needed to implement a PBIS system with a data-driven approach to track and measure positive and negative behaviors in addition to how staff should appropriately respond to both. Principal Penn, with the support of her team, created a list of goals for this change.
Goals for Change:
- Create a strong PBIS program
- Determine consistent school-wide behavior expectations the organization will focus on and collect
- Use behavioral data in addition to academic data to improve school-wide learning
- Use staff incentives to get teachers to track behaviors consistently
- Increase positivity in student-teacher interactions
- Incorporate culture data into teacher planning periods
- Create a data-driven culture where teachers are constantly analyzing data to improve their practice
- Improve academic performance through the improvement of school-wide culture
Get Teacher Buy In for Using Kickboard
Principal Penn decided to partner with Kickboard after creating the list of goals for change. She was confident in the Kickboard platform and its ability to support their school culture transformation. Next, the Kindezi West leaders needed to get buy in for their Kickboard implementation from all staff by showing the effectiveness of Kickboard in maintaining positive school culture.
Principal Penn and her administrative team structured professional development sessions consistently around analyzing weekly Kickboard data for positive and negative behavior trends. This work paid off when teachers could see the impact of analyzing Kickboard data to determine student needs, behaviors, and create action plans around what systems or strategies to implement to improve behavior choices. This led to staff abandoning old systems and fully buying in to Kickboard.
Increase Motivation and Incentives
Kindezi West strengthened their Tier I incentive systems to better motivate students to exhibit positive behaviors and curtail misbehaviors that had become chronic across most classrooms. Teachers were also held accountable for the school-wide behaviors the organization was collecting and tracking. Leaders, teachers, and students became cohesive in which behaviors were expected, not expected, and the positive and negative consequences for exhibiting those behaviors.
The school started hosting weekly and surprise “Turn Ups.” These consisted of a surprise announcement asking teachers to send any students with a certain amount of Kickboard points to the media center for a special treat or quick party. This powerful strategy is twofold because it motivates students to follow behavioral expectations as well as motivates teachers to frequently log Kickboard data so their students will be recognized for their efforts at any given moment.
Hone Data Analysis Skills to Determine Hot Spots
Strengthening the schools’ Tier I systems allowed leaders and staff to deduce exactly where the hot spots or gaps were in their PBIS system. This had a calming effect for adult culture because teachers could objectively see that only some students were struggling with certain behaviors instead of feeling like the hot spot is larger or that whole system shifts needed to occur. Teachers were now equipped with lazer-like analysis skills to find subgroups of students or specific skills that were lagging and could now approach these hot spots more proactively.
One example of this was the establishment of the SEL Tier II Peace Posse group. With the use of Kickboard culture data analysis protocols, staff narrowed in on the specific behaviors of play fighting, name calling, and other low-grade harassment behaviors from certain students in 2nd and 3rd grade. Then the teachers used their research-based SEL curriculum to target those behaviors with those students in skill-building groups.
Here is a list of the reports that Kindezi West used in their data analysis meetings and daily practices:
- The Interactions Report allowed Kindezi West to analyze school-wide trends on the most frequently used interactions which indicated their culture successes and struggles.
- The Staff Report helped the leadership team analyze equitable usage of the PBIS system across the school.
- The Teacher Report showed behavior trends for individual teachers which aided in teacher coaching sessions and maintaining a positive classroom environment.
- Student Reports provided individualized detail of student needs.
- The Timeline Report helped the Dean of Culture and leadership team members see when teachers are using Kickboard and which students received each interaction.
Improving data analysis skills also helped Principal Penn secure funds and resources for SEL and RTI programs. She was able to use Kickboard’s specific data points for students, grade levels, subjects, and more in her meetings with directors to demonstrate where funds and resources needed to be allocated.
The teachers at Kindezi West that focused on analyzing and responding to Kickboard cultural data also saw the highest student academic achievement and growth. The students in the classrooms that focused on a positive culture consistently performed well academically over time. Additionally, these classrooms had fewer referrals and required less help from the behavioral support staff.
The principal explained how the coaching staff continues to make the connection for teachers, “When coaching teachers who are struggling with creating a strong culture of learning we use specific behavioral data from Kickboard to show how improving class culture will have an impact on student achievement.”
After Kindezi West started collecting behavioral data that illuminated the correlation between positivity and student academic success, teachers remained consistent throughout the school year, which increased achievement. Teachers evolved in how they looked at and used Kickboard. One teacher explains this shift, “I use Kickboard as a tool to encourage and reward students for being on task, putting forth effort when completing assignments, and for persevering through rigorous tasks. It helps when I can reward my entire class for being kind to one another and showing academic excellence.” This illuminates the mindshift that teachers at Kindezi West underwent through this process.
The graph below shows individual teacher results. Teachers with higher positivity ratios had higher Student Growth Percentile (SGP) points and a higher percentage of students who met and exceeded their growth goals in math and reading.
Individual Teacher Results:
|Teacher Name||Positivity Ratio|
Student Growth Percentile
(SGP goal: 50)
% of students Meeting Growth Target
The data shows a direct correlation between positive culture and academic achievement at Kindezi West. The success of this Atlanta School occured when Principal Penn and her team of leaders helped bridge the connection for teachers of how focusing on improving school culture and analyzing cultural data positively impacts academic results.
Kindezi West is now a place where students are happy and thriving in positive learning environments. Their teachers are highly motivated and data-driven because they have experienced the impact Kickboard cultural data has made on their academic achievement and overall school culture.