Greetings Eagle Families & Friends:
Back in September, I shared that we started the new school year thinking about “impact” and how our individual and collective efforts could positively impact school climate, culture, and, most especially, academic achievement. We developed a solid school improvement plan with three focus areas: Learning (that includes teacher learning, too!), Interventions, and Connectedness. As we close in on the end of this school year, I take this opportunity to provide you with some highlights on our progress:
As part of our learning goal, we set a plan to improve student efficacy in twelve literacy standard areas. We believe in the research that shows how solid professional development translates into advanced student achievement. Therefore, we designed, created, and delivered literacy training to our certified staff. We have also begun to survey both teaching staff and students to compare and contrast the teacher and learner perspective of learning within these literacy standards. As a next step in our process, we will analyze the survey results and take a look at how each content area, including electives, uses “text” to advance literacy. One data point that we are using to gauge our success toward our learning goal is the SAT Suite of assessments. We are still waiting for some Spring administration results, but for a first-time administration for everyone, results look promising, especially as we compare the October practice test results where 63% of our juniors met the PSAT benchmark score to the Spring administration showing that over 76% of our juniors met the SAT benchmark score.
In order to implement the second goal of this year’s plan to enhance and expand our RtI continuum of interventions and supports, we developed and introduced a daytime intervention room that has been very successful in reducing exclusionary discipline and promoting student positive behaviors. Our goal was to reduce tardies and truancies by 7%; I am happy to report that we are on our way to surpass that goal by almost 4%, which demonstrates that with targeted intervention, our students respond.
To strengthen our ability to help our students socially, emotionally, and academically, we know we need a better understanding of our students’ lives and backgrounds. We studied the concept of cultural competency at length and have developed a training that has been delivered to our administration staff and to our Guidance and Deans Departments. We also launched a new English Language Learner Student Advisory, comprised of 14 students who are relatively new to the United States and our educational system. Their stories are powerful and will integrate into the training moving forward.
The last goal intends to improve school connectedness among staff and between all community stakeholders, including alumni. So far this year, we have upgraded and expanded our Athletic Wall of Fame that is installed outside the Eagle Gym; we have also installed an interactive Digital Hall of Fame which currently features athletic successes. We will be adding an activities component to these monitors as well. We have developed Hall of Fame induction criteria and will hold our first Hall of Fame event next November.
We re-examined the co-curricular interests of our current students and determined a need to advance two additional pilots - The Fashion Club and Cultural Connections. As a result, over 50 more students who had never been in any other activity are now co-curricularly involved.
To recognize notable alumni, we are developing a publication called “30 Under 30” to feature the successes of alum under the age of 30 years old. We expect to release this publication in early summer; at this point, the most difficult aspect of the project is limiting the publication to 30 alum!
These are just a few of the highlights of a plan that has definitely yielded intended results. We are proud of those results and feel a certain satisfaction when an external organization like US News & World looks at data based on their own criteria which ranks Sandburg among the best high schools in the Nation, State, and Southland. Our parent partnership toward our goals cannot be undervalued; without your ongoing support and encouragement, our efforts would not be as successful.
We are looking forward to a strong finish to this school year that includes a myriad of activities that take place in May, including Relay for Life, the Senior Party, Senior Scholarship Night, banquets and award celebrations, a host of regular and playoff athletic contests, and, of course, Graduation on May 23rd (rain date is May 26th).
I take this opportunity now to wish all of you a wonderful Memorial Day. This annual remembrance of those American servicemen and women who have died in service to our country is a wonderful opportunity to recall the many opportunities and blessings we have inherited because of those who lost their lives in defense of our freedoms. May we always be grateful for their sacrifice and honor their memory.
Best wishes and Go Eagles!
Deborah D. Baker