Charlie Roy, blogging at Souly Catholic, describes how teachers and administrators have rallied to dramatically cut the rate of students failing courses at his Illinois high school. Their goal was an ambitious 50 percent reduction, but they're on track to do much better. So far, they have reduced course failures by 75 percent compared to last year.
The successful game plan starts with student support teams that include an administrator, counselor, and two teachers. As soon as a student starts slipping academically, the team responds with a fast plan of action that includes strategic interventions, measurable goals, and regular follow up. The individualized, student-centered approach seems key to success. As Roy explains, "The effectiveness of the interventions was tied to the strength of the relationship created between the team and their students."
Not only are students achieving positive results, but staff are experiencing the benefits of collaboration. Regular team meeting times and online collaboration (via Google docs) support ongoing conversations. They've shifted from worrying about kids to putting their collective energy into designing ideas that work, from mini-courses to peer tutoring. When you see staff members making friendly side wagers about their ideas, you know they're invested.