Dr. Hodge and His Team’s Assessment of Four More Schools in Indian River County, FL.

indian river logo

In 2017 The School District of Indian River County engaged The Urban Learning and Leadership Center (ULLC)  of Hampton, Virginia to conduct an assessment of 21 schools in Indian River County, Florida.  The assessments were conducted in October, 2017

Dr. John W. Hodge, President and Co-founder of the ULLC and his team from the ULLC conducted school walkthroughs; student, parent, teacher, and administrative interviews; as well as having staff complete surveys to develop a profile for each school.

For further background on Dr. Hodge and the way the assessments were conducted please visit:

https://verocommunique.com/2018/05/14/27138/

In this article we are sharing excerpts from the Hodge assessments on four additional schools.

Liberty-Magnet-School-720-720

Liberty Magnet Elementary School

Site Visit: September 24-26, 2017

553 students

33 staff members completed the survey

44% economically disadvantaged

No reference to minorities

12% special education

2016 – 2017 State Report Card:  B

When asked about the strengths Liberty Magnet School, the number one response from parents, teachers, and staff was the caring attitude demonstrated by the teaching staff. The consensus during the parent meeting was voiced by one parent, “Teachers truly care about our students. If we have a concern, it is quickly addressed.” Another respondent said, “The school offers extra enrichment with clubs. My child can’t wait to get to school every day!”

There is an on-going community of collaboration within the walls of Liberty Magnet. Teachers, staff, and administration all reported the school works like a family and students are their number one focus.

The school received an “exceeding” rating on the state’s report card in the area of discipline. In total, 31/33 staff members make character development a daily focus (SM003/4.64).

Liberty Magnet is a unique elementary school because it is partnered with the International Baccalaureate/Primary Years Program (IB/PYP). The curriculum is challenging as it integrates all subject areas and state standards while incorporating the IB/PYP (TA010/4.88)

The staff and administrators reported their concern for academic success for disadvantaged students.

“If a child fails to master the material, the conclusion is that the child needs to be taught in a more effective way.”

A consistent and close monitoring of data and appropriate interventions for targeted students will be necessary tools for success. Administrators and the leadership team at Liberty Magnet Elementary School should lead the staff through the development, implementation, and monitoring of a data-driven school action plan.

Training and support for teachers to learn strategies to infuse higher order thinking strategies across all content areas is recommended.

Research is consistent that when students take ownership to become active participants in their own learning, they not only perform at higher levels on state assessments, but they begin to connect learning to life applications, which students, parents, and teachers at Liberty Magnet Elementary have requested.

These observations are merely the tip of the iceberg to begin the dialogue with the staff of Liberty Magnet Elementary School relative to school improvement.

 

 Beachlands

Beachland Elementary School

 

Site Visit: September 24-26, 2017

470 students

37 staff members completed the survey

53% economically disadvantaged

No reference to minorities

14% special education

2016 – 2017 State Report Card:  A

During classroom observations, as well as through interviews with parents, administrators, and teachers it was evident that one of the main building blocks of success for Beachland Elementary School is the capacity of the teaching staff with their knowledge of the standards and teaching of the standards.

Most of the teachers have remained at the school for a long period of time which led to the success of this A/B school. As also noted during the walk-throughs the percentage of classrooms where classroom environments were inviting and safe, and students were engaged in instruction were at least 85%.

The school district data indicates that there are significant achievement gaps with the subgroups of black/African American students, the economically disadvantaged and students with disabilities at Beachland Elementary

Teachers, administrators and the discipline data indicate that Black/African American students are referred for discipline reasons more often.

A teacher stated, “Teachers are concerned that a few kids are so disruptive that they ruin school for all”.

During the parent interview, parents were candid about the economic divide of the communities served by Beachland Elementary School. One parent stated, “Several years ago there was an economic divide, but we are getting better”. Another parent said “that some communities still do not feel like part of the school”.

The administrators and leadership team should involve the staff in re- examining their vision and mission and core beliefs to ensure that there is staff buy in and that the current challenges are seen as opportunities for growth.

Structures need to be in place to ensure that all staff members analyze school data, set schools goals, and have input on the strategies and action steps to meet the goals.

Social, moral and academic skills are critical to student success at Beachland Elementary School. The administrators and staff should reestablish their expectations for student behavior, and school habits.

Classroom managed behaviors and office referred behaviors should be identified with discussions on differentiated consequences in teaching students the norms for appropriate behavior in the building.

Rosewood

Rosewood Magnet School (K-5)

Site Visit: September 24-26, 2017

558 students

17 staff members completed the survey

40% economically disadvantaged

No reference to minorities

7% special education

2016 – 2017 State Report Card:  A

Specifically, interviews were conducted with the following: (1) Cassandra Flores, building principal (2) school leadership team (3) assistant principal/administrative assistant (4) parents and (5) selected students representing all grades and demographics of the student body.

When asked about the strengths of Rosewood Magnet School, the number one response from parents, students and staff was that the school was a great place to work or for their children to attend. They all agreed that the school was like a “second home”, that the school had a “great family feel.”

It was evident by the number of participants at the early morning PTA meeting, that parents support the school. The ULLC coach estimated approximately 100 parents and students in attendance.

“Teachers believe that students can achieve at high levels regardless of a student’s race/gender/SES.”

“Teachers in this school take responsibility when children experience academic failure.” Parents voiced similar ideas in their interview. One parent stated, “Teachers address the needs and strengths of all of our children – children who are gifted and those with IEPs.”

Rosewood Magnet School currently does not have an active and viable school vision and mission.  The process of school improvement will be enhanced with a shared vision that guides that process.

A positive school climate and student performance are strongly connected. The first item under Building Block for Success, addresses that there is a positive school climate at Rosewood Magnet School.

Results indicate that teachers are not consistently engaging students in complex thinking skills such as logic, reasoning, and critical thinking. Most of the questions asked by teachers required students to merely recall information. Questions such as, “What are three states of matter?” and “What does that round to?” were frequently heard.

Training and support for teachers to develop and utilize clear daily learning objectives. Each classroom should have an easily viewed and identifiable area where the instructional objective for each instructional period is posted, updated regularly, and referenced by the teacher throughout the lesson.

Training and support for teachers to learn strategies to infuse higher order thinking strategies across all content areas.

These observations are merely the tip of the iceberg to begin the dialogue with the staff of Rosewood Magnet School relative to school improvement.

 Osceola-Magnet--767x588

Osceola Magnet Elementary School

Site Visit: September 24-26, 2017

526 students

27 staff members completed the survey

40% economically disadvantaged

No reference to minorities

12% special education

2016 – 2017 State Report Card:  A

One component of the site visit consisted of a series of structured interviews with representative groups of stakeholders selected by the school leadership. Specifically, interviews were conducted with the following: (1) Mr. Scott Simpson, building principal (2) school leadership team members (3) the assistant principal and (4) parents representing all grades and demographics of the student body.

 

When asked about the strengths of Osceola Magnet Elementary School, the number one response from parents, and staff was the positive relationship between staff and parents. All parents are involved with the mandatory 10- hour contract, but the majority of parents do 40 hours or more of volunteering and many are super volunteers with 500 plus hours.

The school is partners with the PTA providing them a PTA room in the school and the entire staff supports the PTA with special events. Many interviewed cited the “sense of family for parents, students and staff as one community.” One respondent said, “Everything is great about this school especially parent involvement.” Another said, “The strength of this school is the teachers, the parents, and the students!”

Contributing to the positive relationship between school and families is the frequent and timely communication between the school and the families. Communication was consistently cited as a strength. A parent responded that “communication with the school is amazing.”

The academic preparation and overall culture of student achievement were additional strengths. Staff and parents feel that students are prepared for the state assessments and prepared for the next grade level. Students look forward to coming to school, are respectful of teachers, have a high work ethic and grades are important to them.

If a specific student group has more discipline referrals, goals should be set around that data.

Administrators and the leadership team at Osceola Magnet Elementary School should continue to lead the staff through the development, implementation, and monitoring of a data-driven school action plan with their 8-step process.

There is a School Improvement Plan in place. While some staff indicated during the interviews that they “all had input”, many staff members were unsure and/or were unable to share the goals or focus of the plan

As evidenced by the data, surveys, interviews, and observations, the Osceola “family” can be proud of their accomplishments. These observations for improvement are merely the tip of the iceberg to begin the dialogue with the staff of Osceola Magnet Elementary School relative to school improvement.

Vero Communique will continue to provide assessments on additional schools because in the end we want to develop some statistics such as how many students are economically disadvantaged, how many staff members completed surveys and how many students have special education needs.

 

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