Successfully using data driven practices to support the whole child in Florida schools
SEED Miami is the only public, tuition-free college-preparatory boarding school in South Florida. Their outstanding academic educational program is combined with strengths-based, prevention-focused social skills programming to support the whole child.
SEED Miami has successfully supported the whole child by:
- Creating schoolwide systems of support
- Identifying and adopting tools to help support the vision for school culture
- Encouraging transparent staff communication
- Empowering students with their own data
- Involving parents with open communication
- Using culture data to inform decisions
These best practices have helped this Florida school to support their students’ academic, social, and emotional development as they prepare for college and beyond.
SEED Miami – Fast Facts
- Founded in 2014
- Public, college-prep boarding school
- Students are from across South Florida
- 300 students in grades 6-11 (will grow to 400 students in grades 6-12)
- Small classes are capped at 18 students
- Supports students through college completion
Supporting the Whole Child
Dr. Kara Locke moved from SEED’s Washington, DC location to South Florida in 2014 to open SEED Miami. As the head of a new non-traditional charter school, she was faced with the task of implementing effective schoolwide systems to accomplish SEED Miami’s mission of supporting the whole child. Staff at SEED Miami already had a robust social skills curriculum and behavior management system. What they did not have was a way of tracking and analyzing data about students’ areas of growth and acquisition of social skills. There was no central measure for effectiveness and success.
Dr. Locke found Kickboard and realized that it was just what they needed: a way to record, store, and share information about how students are doing in real time throughout the day.
SEED Miami started using Kickboard with a strong foundation for positive school culture already in place. They knew what they wanted to achieve, and used Kickboard as a tool to help them achieve it. Justin Chiu, who is in charge of data management at SEED Miami, explained that once the team had a chance to look at how Kickboard operates, they figured out how it could be configured to meet their needs on a daily basis. It was easy to learn and to implement, especially with Kickboard’s ability to customize different features. The added benefit of ongoing support from a Kickboard School Culture Coach also helped SEED Miami to stay on track. The team leveraged the coach’s expertise and consistent communication to implement Kickboard in a way that best supported their process and goals for culture at SEED.
Using Kickboard with SEED Miami’s Positive Behavior System
SEED Miami’s model of care is a positive behavior and incentive-based system. They use a curriculum that focuses on pre-teaching social skills and positively incentivizing those skills when they are exhibited by students. Their goal is for these positive interactions with students to happen four times more than any corrective interactions. When corrections do have to occur, they are done in a way that re-teaches students the correct behaviors as a learned set of skills. After a student has been redirected, they are reminded of steps to a given skill and are given an opportunity to practice it in order to gain positive points.
Kickboard has supported this model of care at SEED Miami by providing a platform that houses all their behavior data in one place and allows teachers to record and analyze the interactions they’re having with students. Teachers can clearly see where students are excelling, and can identify skills that may need re-teaching. By looking at these trends, staff can adjust their social skills instruction to meet students’ needs.
SEED Miami has organized their target behaviors and skills in Kickboard to align to their core values. Students earn points in Kickboard by exhibiting skills that align with these values. For example, a student may earn points for ignoring distractions from other students, which shows self-discipline. The points that students earn are accrued throughout the year to determine eligibility for various trips and parties. Students also receive a weekly “paycheck” of points they’ve earned, which they can use in their school store.
Kickboard’s adaptability has helped SEED Miami to make adjustments in order to fit their changing needs. Kickboard’s “quick add buttons” allow schools to customize which behaviors are more readily accessible for faster recording. SEED Miami changes their quick add buttons to specifically focus in on target skills at any given time. For example, during testing days, quick add buttons are changed to skills like being on task, ignoring distractions from other students, and doing good quality work. Students who exhibit those skills and earn points for those behaviors are then eligible for incentives like field trips and special breakfast events.
Open Communication to Empower Students
SEED Miami staff members communicate openly with their students to promote target skills and help students earn clearly defined incentives. In March of 2019, for example, SEED Miami had a Youth Fair trip that students could earn by reaching a certain threshold of points. In the weeks leading up to this trip, they modified their quick add buttons to reflect the skills that students were working on. Flyers were posted around the school to remind students which skills were being targeted, and to clearly communicate the threshold of points needed in order to be selected. Each week, deans met with students individually to show them how many points they had earned and discuss their progress toward meeting the goal of attending the trip. Because of this open communication, students knew exactly what they could do to earn this incentive, and could see their progress towards that goal.
Kickboard data is used to monitor student progress over longer periods of time at SEED Miami. Throughout the school year, deans meet with students to discuss and analyze their behavior data from Kickboard. They compare the numbers of referrals written in the current year compared to the previous year in order to show students that their behavior is improving, even though they may feel like they are struggling. These conferences help reinforce to students that the work they are putting into their skills development is making a positive impact on their behavior.
Students at SEED Miami also do a “Presentation of Learning” each year, during which they each identify one core value that is a strength for them, and one growth area and present it to their teachers and leaders. This introspection and ongoing analysis helps students to be involved in their skills development on a deeper level.
SEED Miami’s school store has also been a “great way to add leverage and meaning to Kickboard as a tool.” Dean Natalie Diaz runs Kickboard’s “character report” with teachers’ comments in addition to students’ paychecks that they spend at the store. She has noticed that students enjoy seeing the specific teachers who have recorded behaviors and logged points for them, as well as the actual comments that teachers are writing. Pairing this detailed character report with a weekly paycheck helps students to see how the tangible rewards from the school store tie in with the actual behaviors and skills they’re exhibiting.
Kickboard’s Family Portal has helped staff at SEED Miami to have open and ongoing communication with parents. After they learn how to log in to Kickboard during summer orientation, parents have the ability to log in and see their child’s in-the-moment behavior data. Being a boarding school, it’s been helpful for parents to have this capability to see how their child is doing in real time. The Family Portal also helps streamline communication, so that teachers don’t have to call parents about small interactions that happen during the day.
Using Data to Inform Decisions
SEED Miami’s leadership team relies on data from Kickboard to assess progress toward SEED Miami’s goal of a 4:1 ratio of positive-to-corrective interactions with students. She and her team are able to monitor their progress and hold staff accountable, while continuously making necessary adjustments and getting feedback from staff.
One way Kickboard data has helped hold staff accountable is during coaching conversations. When a teacher is struggling with classroom management or with a particular student, Dr. Locke can look at data from Kickboard to see trends in the types of behaviors that teachers are recording. She can then target her coaching to fit the needs of individual teachers, and discuss ways to increase positive reinforcement of target behaviors. When staff members have their annual performance evaluations, Kickboard is also a valuable tool. The leadership team is able to point to specific data around whether teachers are using Kickboard, but more importantly how they are using Kickboard to benefit their work, their students’ growth, and parent communication.
SEED Miami’s leadership team also uses Kickboard data on a school-wide level to identify trends and inform professional development. For example, if she notices that overnight Resident Advisors are recording a lot of corrective behaviors during certain hours, she can plan professional development with those staff members around how to teach specific social skills to students that would address the issues happening at that time. She also looks at trends across the school year to monitor staff activity and ensure that staff are keeping up with school culture as much at the end of the year as they did at the beginning of the year.
Dr. Locke and her team have continued to adjust their use of Kickboard in order to fit SEED Miami’s ever-changing needs. As the school grows to include 11th and 12th graders, SEED Miami will adapt Kickboard to meet the needs of these older students. Skill development will be geared towards preparing students for success in college and beyond, and will be differentiated from the skills that younger students are working on. Dr. Locke also plans to improve Kickboard use throughout the school by pairing up Kickboard “power users” with teachers who need more help and guidance. Leveraging the strengths of teachers and students alike will help SEED Miami to continue to foster a positive school culture in which each student is supported. Using Kickboard as a tool to carry out their model of care, SEED Miami continues to foster students’ social and emotional development and prepare students for lifelong success.