Written by Wes Schmidgall
Wednesday, 20 February 2013 00:00
Sophomore students participating in the Lexington High School Sophomore Enrichment Program. Photo by Jilliann Pacha, Lexington High School English Teacher.
LEXINGTON — Lexington High School recently launched a new program that helps all of its students, whether they are struggling or exceeding in school, learn on a consistent basis.
The sophomore enrichment program is a pilot study that Lexington High School started in January to identify which of its sophomore students are struggling in math and/or reading and need help, as well as which sophomores are exceeding in math and/or reading and need to be challenged.
“One of the big changes that is taking place right now is that educators, both teachers and administrators — part of our evaluation is based on student growth and so we have some outside impotence to make sure that we’re paying attention to growth for all of our students,” said Lexington High School Principal Jim Allen. “I think schools have done a really good job over the years of paying attention to struggling students and making sure that they are up to speed. But what we’re attempting to do here is making sure that all of our students are growing.
“So what I asked the staff to do is to start thinking about overall student growth. I actually had a couple of staff members come to me and suggest that we run a pilot program with our sophomores.”
English teacher Jilliann Pacha was one of the teachers that designed the sophomore enrichment program that was presented to Allen. Pacha derived the idea for the sophomore enrichment program from the Response to Intervention (RTI) method that Lexington Junior High School uses to assist its students that are struggling academically.
RTI is a method of academic intervention used in the United States to provide early, systematic assistance to children who are having difficulty learning. It seeks to prevent academic failure through early intervention, frequent progress measurement and increasingly intensive research-based instructional interventions for children who continue to have difficulty.
“Our junior high team does a wonderful job with RTI, and after learning about their successes, we were determined to repurpose our 9th hour advisory period for the sophomore pilot program,” said Pacha. “I sat down with our counselor, Jenny White, and communicated to her how I planned to restructure my own 9th hour advisory period. We then decided to talk with our principal, Jim Allen, about expanding the idea to embody the entire sophomore class. With his support, the sophomore pilot program was set in motion.”
The advisory period for sophomores is held during the last 18 minutes of the school day.
“The reason we choose our sophomores is they have during semester an 18-minute period during the day that this fit nicely into,” said Allen.
Lexington High School has around 40 sophomore students. As part of the pilot program, those students are broken into four groups during the advisory period.
“Right now we have two groups that are working with math teachers and two groups that are working with English teachers that are working on math and reading respectively,” said Allen. “And at the end of this nine-week grading period, we’ll switch the groups, so that the kids that had the math first will go to reading and vice versa.”
Students are able to receive one-on-one help in the small groups.
“If you have students who are struggling in reading or math, then you identify what their specific weaknesses are and then you get them extra help,” said Allen. “And then if they don’t respond to that intervention, what you can do is bump it up and give them even more intensive one-on-one help.
“This isn’t just for kids that are struggling, it’s for all kids. The idea behind that is we expect to see a certain amount of growth from my students, regardless of what level they’re at, so each time we assess them we see some growth in each individual kid, regardless of where they start.”
After the 2012-2013 school year, school administrators will evaluate the results of the sophomore enrichment program.
“Our pilot program is still in the beginning stages, but we plan to make the necessary changes to our student groupings based on what the data shows at the end of the year,” said Pacha. “We want to ensure that our groupings are purposeful and productive. The needs of our students are always changing; our approaches should be as well.”
Based on the results of the pilot study, the program could be implemented to other students in Lexington High School, not just sophomore students.
“My expectation is that we will eventually expand this into a school-wide program,” said Allen. “We’re working with sophomores right now to develop a list of some teaching techniques and some evaluation practices that will help us make sure that kids are growing and learning.”
In addition to Pacha and White, Spanish teacher Teresa Cottrell, math teacher Paul Peacock and biology teacher Margiejo Werfelman are participating in the pilot program.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 February 2013 15:19