One of the lowest performing schools in Washington, DC is looking to blended learning to help raise proficiency levels and student engagement. So far, it's working.
When Principal Kwame Simmons was assigned to turn around the academic performance at Kramer Middle School in 2010, the situation looked bleak.
According to Simmons, the statistics were "staggering."
"Eighty-nine percent free and reduced lunch, 33 percent special education, which is 23 percent higher than the national average, 30 percent truancy, 18 percent and 17 percent math and reading respectively on the state tests, so it was just deplorable, the performance," Simmons said.
But through a combination of solid management and the effective use of technology, Kramer is indeed seeing a turnaround in academic performance.
First, Simmons and his staff "firmed up policies and procedures" and reduced truancy to 10 percent. At the same time, they added support for special education and made sure needs were responded to in a timely fashion.
"And then we just grabbed the instructional model by the horns by starting with universal language," Simmons said. "So we did book studies and selected language that we all agreed upon would be used to talk about instruction. And at the end of the year we recognized an 11 percent increase in math, and 15 percent increase in special education, so that was a tipping point."
Next, Simmons received permission from District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) Chancellor Kaya Henderson to reconstitute the staff, a process in which most teachers and staff members must reapply for their positions.
"The average teacher evaluation score was .5 below the district average. So you had very needy students as well as very needy teachers to try and bring about this sustained reform, and that just didn't mesh well and it didn't make sense," Simmons said. "In having that opportunity [to reconstitute] we released 98 percent of the adults to really start fresh."
Via Ove Christensen