The core curriculum lessons were developed after careful analysis of our overall program goals, as well as the Mindsets and Behaviors that were selected to support our goals. Our vision and mission statements have a strong focus on students achieving their fullest potential, both academically and personally, and ensuring they are college and career ready. Our program goals were established with our vision and mission statements in mind, and our core curriculum lessons certainly support our mantra of students “always learning, always growing.” From our core curriculum lessons, we selected three to analyze and determine their effectiveness.
All three lessons chosen supported our goal of increasing the total number of enrollments in AP, honors, and dual-credit courses. These lessons delivered to the Freshmen, Sophomore and Junior classes each had their own area of focus that were developmentally appropriate for each grade level. The three lessons were designed to help support students’ college and career goals by having them conduct a four-year plan of study based on their post-secondary plans (Freshmen workshop), exploring various careers (Sophomore workshop), and researching colleges and majors (Junior workshop). Through each of these lessons we incorporated a segment on the importance of taking rigorous courses.
Between the 2013-14 and 2015-16 school years, the enrollment numbers for AP, honors and dual-credit courses had remained stagnant. Our mission is for students to be always learning and always growing, and one way to accomplish this objective is for our students to continuously challenge themselves academically. Advanced courses not only improve graduation rates, but they also jump start students’ college and career readiness. Furthermore, advanced courses require students to step outside of their comfort zone by further developing their critical thinking, time management, and concept analysis skills – all areas required for success in any post-secondary route.
The perception data for all three lessons revealed a growth in the students’ understanding of the importance of academic rigor. The outcome data showed the effectiveness of all three lessons as the number of AP, honors and dual-credit enrollments increased for each grade level. The Freshmen class had a 10.3% increase, the Sophomore class had a 15.2% increase, and the Junior class had a 9.1% increase. School wide, there was an 8.4% increase between the 2014-15 school year and the 2015-16 school year. We will continue to deliver these lessons to each grade level due to the effectiveness of the programs. Students will have an opportunity to go through our series of workshops, completing one per year, to help support their college and career goals. We also plan to partner with the middle school counselors in our district to help promote academic rigor as the 8th grades are registering for their Freshmen year courses.
Our Junior college and career workshop also supports our goal of decreasing the number of school days missed due to suspensions. Between the 2013-14 and the 2014-15 school year, there was a spike in the number of suspensions with a 46.6% increase. We have found through conversations with students that most do not understand the connection that discipline can have on college admittance, entrance into vocational/trade programs and employment opportunities, so we wanted to spend time in this lesson educating students on the impact that discipline referrals can have. The perception data revealed a growth in the students’ understanding of how discipline referrals can impact their post-secondary plans, increasing from 23% to 92%. As a result of our efforts, the total number of days missed due to discipline referrals, including both in-school and out-of-school suspensions, decreased by 38.3% between the 2014-15 school year and the 2015-16 school year. We will be continuing our efforts to help decrease the number of suspensions each and every year. We know that missing school is detrimental to a student’s academic success and we are committed to keeping students in school. Through our data analysis of this lesson we discovered that the percentage of minority students suspended is the highest, so we will be focusing next on this select group of students.
Finally, all three lessons support our goal of increasing the number of Seniors committing to post-secondary educational programs, although in an indirect way. This goal can only be directly assessed by our Senior programming outcome data; however, our students need to be prepared to meet this goal from Freshmen through Senior year. As our students go through our series of college and career readiness programs, we will be able to evaluate the effectiveness with each class’s Senior exit surveys given at graduation.