Yorba Linda Middle School
School’s Model Program/Practice
1. Description of the Model:
Maintaining high expectations in a nurturing environment motivated our staff to reevaluate the intervention program of Yorba Linda Middle School (YLMS). Our Build a Better Bobcat (B3) intervention program, as supported through our district’s Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP), is a weekly thirty-four minute period embedded into the school day. This period gives teachers the opportunity to have students makeup work/tests, provide enrichment opportunities, collect missing assignments, and provide small group instruction for tutoring. Teachers present lessons focused on character development, culture awareness pieces, and organization to support the social-emotional needs of students. This nurturing environment provides a safe place for students to regroup, emotionally recharge, and get ahead in their studies.
Our B3 program utilizes the Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) framework to benefit all students based on individual needs. At the beginning of the year, teachers are assigned a group of students based on academic grades and citizenship marks from the fourth quarter of the prior year. During this tutorial B3 time, students are supported to reach our high expectations and meet our academic standards. This program is a means to hold students accountable for their academic progress. It ensures all teachers have an updated grade book which alerts other teachers, parents, and students of concerns regarding students’ grades. If students do not have any missing work and have had good citizenship for the week they are rewarded with an additional nine minutes for lunch.
In 2013, YLMS teachers recognized the challenge to ensure all students are college and career ready and feel connected to their school. Having an attendance average of 97%, B3 is instrumental in our students attending school regularly. The relationships developed between the B3 teacher and their students is one that is valued by both parties. With a diverse population, it was determined that we needed a wider array of supports in order to meet the academic and social-emotional needs of our various learners. As part of the district’s LCAP, evaluating our economically disadvantaged student group and our English Learners (ELs) student group in our Professional Learning Community (PLC), we realized these unique populations require greater attention in order to close the achievement gap. The B3 program supplies supplementary opportunities for teachers to provide one-on-one support for ELs to enhance their English language acquisition. Additionally, it provides socioeconomically disadvantaged students access to resources and academic supports they may not have available at home. While focusing on the entire population’s social-emotional well-being, our school adopted this program to benefit all students.
Nurturing the social-emotional needs of students is an essential part of our B3 program. The program is guided by a dedicated team of five teachers who serve on the B3 committee. Each month, the B3 committee prepares lessons for character development, cultural awareness, and organization. Teachers receive a step-by-step guide for each of these lessons, creating a schoolwide climate and providing teachers with an avenue to discuss positive messages with their students throughout the month.
In 2017, we decided to adjust how groups are organized to better meet the needs of all students. Teachers lead one of three groups of students. First is a lead a group of advanced students labeled as green (Tier 1), who maintain a 3.5 GPA or above with at least two Outstanding citizenship marks. The second is an intermediate group labeled as yellow (Tier 2), 2.1-3.4 GPA without Needs Improvement (N’s) or Unsatisfactory (U’s) citizenship marks. These groups focus on work completion, homework, and making up missed tests, quizzes, and Physical Education (PE) miles.
In order to best support our struggling students, we have a third grouping where one to two teachers in each grade level lead students labeled as red (Tier 3). These students typically have a GPA of 2.0 or below and/or two or more N’s or U’s in citizenship marks. These groups are significantly smaller consisting of only 12-15 students and receive individualized attention each week to discuss progress on established goals, and missing work. These students also benefit from one-to-one tutoring provided by YLMS National Junior Honor Society (NJHS) students. This positive peer support provides authentic leadership and service opportunities for our NJHS students while also meeting the needs of our struggling students.
In addition to addressing the academic and social-emotional needs of our students, the B3 program is also comprised of a behavior component. Our school-wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) are woven into B3 and behavioral expectations are regularly reviewed by our PBIS team consisting of administrators, staff, and students. The B3 program has also been instrumental in effectively addressing our chronic absenteeism rates. YLMS sets academic and behavior goals for students, as well as college and career goals. Students reflect on their goals mid-year and at the end of the year. Often during individual behavior counseling, a student is asked to review their goals with their B3 teacher.
To make up absences, YLMS offers a Saturday Academy which includes a Social Emotional Learning (SEL) website called BASE Education to further address student needs. The program leads students to reflect and respond after a situation is presented to them. It is also used as a proactive approach to issues, such as decision making, that may occur in our intervention classes. The YLMS staff takes our students’ mental and emotional health very seriously and feel our suspension alternatives help to address the problem and not just treat the symptom.
2. Implementation and Monitoring of Model Program/Practice
The B3 program is designed to be fluid and continually meet the needs of all involved. Constant monitoring of the program’s effectiveness is completed by evaluating how many students have grades of a D or F. Administration actively engages with all stakeholders and seeks advice and input from teachers, support staff, students, parents, and our PTSA to ensure the needs of all students are being addressed by the B3 program. . This collaborative approach to program implementation holds us accountable to our students, families, and the school community.
Effective educational practices are evaluated on a regular basis to determine which practices should be further developed and implemented as part of the B3 program. Through our stakeholders’ survey and student B3 survey, we are able to gather yearly data to evaluate the level of student engagement in the program. For example, in the most recent student survey, 74.7% of students across all grades felt that B3 was beneficial to their educational experience and wanted it to continue. Students’ suggestions were taken into consideration when refining the program for the next year. We want our students to feel heard and know that they have a voice at their school.
Parents are educated about B3 before their child enters YLMS and becomes a Bobcat. At our parent night, incoming sixth-grade students receive information about the program. The principal communicates about the B3 program in his weekly newsletter to parents and via emails throughout the year. Teachers also discuss B3 during Back-to-School-Night which serves as an excellent opportunity to explain missing assignments and gather feedback on the program. In addition to reducing the number of missing assignments, this program also provides students with an opportunity to catch up on homework, thus allowing more time for family and after-school activities.
Students have the opportunity to earn additional lunchtime each week contingent upon no missing assignments and good citizenship. Teachers first identify students on a spreadsheet who would benefit from additional time in the tutorial as well as those students who are missing work, making up an assessment, or making up the mile run in PE. One of our teachers takes on the task of sending colleagues a spreadsheet to mark missing assignments or behavior issues for their particular subject. The spreadsheet is then sorted and sent out to teachers so they can monitor students’ missing assignments and the particular areas they have deficits.
In our collaborative team meetings, we regularly discuss students who require further intervention by starting the Student Study Team (SST) process. It is a time where all the grade level teachers document the progress of individual students and accommodations already in place. In addition to the SST process, all teachers have received training in recognizing trauma in students and are provided resources to help them with their social-emotional well-being. Also at our collaborative team meetings, teachers have the opportunity to change the placement of students depending on their advancement in GPA and work completion. Students do not automatically stay in a particular group for the entire year. Their continuous progress throughout the school year determines their appropriate placement.
3. Results of the Model Program/Practice
The results of our B3 program have been astounding. The positive benefits reflect in our Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA) scores in that 71% of our students Met or Exceeded the ELA standard, which is 3% over the district average and 22% higher than the state average. In Math, our students scored 66% in the Met or Exceeded categories which are 7% over the district average and 29% higher than the state average.
Our SST also monitors the at-risk students discussed in our grade level collaborative team meetings. The support comes full circle when the team provides a folder outlining missing assignments often including copies of the student’s work, in the event the student has misplaced it. The work is completed in B3 and returned to the SST folder to ensure that all completed assignments are turned into the correct teachers.
The number of students earning a GPA of 2.0 or below has significantly decreased. Since the beginning of the school year, 81% of the targeted (red) group improved their GPA, and some students have transitioned out of the group. Red group teachers record the number of D’s and F’s and the number of missing assignments on a weekly basis to monitor progress and growth. These results provide positive reinforcements through our PBIS incentives. Continual improvement is a priority at YLMS, and our intervention program impacts the student population. Our student groups remain a focus as we analyze SBA data resulting from our intervention program. In the 2017-2018 school year, the economically disadvantaged student group increased from 44% to 47% in the area of English Language Arts, and students’ scores remained consistent at 48% in the area of math.
Another area of growth in English Language Arts proved to be in our students scoring in the Standard Nearly Met category. Over three years, we saw a 3% reduction in the number of students scoring a Standard Nearly Met and a 7% increase in those scoring a Standard Met. The B3 intervention system provides additional time to support those students who are close to meeting the standard requirements for English Language Arts. Our math scores increased in the Standard Exceeded category by 6%, even though the overall scores of combined Met or Standard Exceeded had a slight decrease.
By continuously monitoring our assessment results, we are able to design and implement a truly effective intervention plan. As we review our LCAP annually, teachers disaggregate and analyze student achievement data and discuss the next steps for successfully supporting all students. We thrive on delivering a high-quality educational program that ensures continuous improvement for our students. YLMS is truly a school where diversity is valued, integrity is expected, and growth is imminent.