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Model Practice Narrative

  1. Description of the Model

    Students at Mission San Jose High School are academically focused. The number of Advanced Placement tests taken by our students continues to rise and is now exceeding 2,346 tests with over 1,000 students taking these exams. Furthermore, counselors, over the years, have documented an increase in police interviews of potentially suicidal students. School staff observed physical and mental health symptoms which indicated some of our students were in distress. Believing that the culture of the school and community needed a paradigm shift, a grant was written to become a participating school in Stanford University’s stressed out students program now known as Challenge Success.

    At the same time, Mission San Jose High School wanted to address the academic needs of all learners. While distress among high performing students was worrisome, so was the ever widening achievement and opportunity gap. For the students who fall below the standards this school can be an academically daunting place. Understanding that the social-emotional components as well as the academic components make a whole student, the staff at Mission San Jose High School has, over time, implemented 3 distinct models for intervention. The 3 intervention programs are titled; STEMSuccess, Writers Block, and Target Success. Target Success is the newest addition to our repertoire of services. STEMSuccess involves a teacher and administrator monitored peer tutoring model. Students who are referred to STEMSuccess through the SST process or by a teacher, counselor, or administrator work with a peer or the teacher supervising the intervention to strengthen their skills.

    Teachers receive extensive professional development during our August professional development days. Professional development has included a guided analysis of homework and assessments led by trainers from Challenge Success. Teachers were able to look at assignments they give and use a scale to analyze how impactful the assignments are to a students learning. Teachers could also examine how well the assignments matched targeted learning goals set forth by individual classroom teachers, PLC group goals, and State standards. Other professional development has centered around mental health and well-being and it includes speakers from Fremont Youth and Family Services as well as Tri City Mental Health. The professional development in combination with the programs themselves and parent outreach events has increased mental and physical health as well as increased academic performance for all learners but especially for unique student populations.

    The programs target specific unique populations however they serve and support all learners. Of the five comprehensive high schools in Fremont Unified, our programs are unique. We are the only high school to partner with Challenge Success and no other school has three unique programs to support learners across the academic spectrum. The targeted support identifies who the students are that need additional support, particularly our English Learners, Socio-economically disadvantaged, and emotionally at-risk. Our school goals as identified in our WASC and SPSA support these programs and are tied to the Fremont Unified School District LCAP goals, specifically Goal 2, 3, and 4. Goal 2 states that we will “Increase the academic achievement of all students through challenging and engaging instruction.” Goal 3 states that we will “Implement strategies to involve students in their learning and interventions to eliminate barriers to success.” Lastly, Goal 4 states that we will “Establish partnerships with our families and communities to increase academic success for all students.” Our LCAP mirrors the FUSD goals and our programs are identified and supported through goals, monitoring and some funding. School Goal # 4 supports our model practice in that it states that by May 2019, all 10th and 11th grade students will participate in small group meetings and 9th and 12th graders will participate in classroom meetings with their counselors to encourage a relationship which will foster a connection with an adult, monitor progress towards graduation, and develop and monitor realistic and manageable 4-year plans leading to graduation. School Goal # 3 states that we will work to Increase the percentage of English Learners by 5% that demonstrate at least one year of progress annually toward English fluency. Additionally the goal states that 85% of EL immigrant students will attend on-site academic tutoring (Target Success and/or Writer’s Block) to improve their academic vocabulary and writing skills. Under School Goal #1 we seek to increase the number of students who reach “Standards Met” on the EAP by 4% thus reducing the number of “Standards Nearly Met” and “Standards Not Met” by 4%. This also is accomplished by inviting students in the latter categories to participate in our intervention model programs.

    While chronic absenteeism is not an identified concern at our school based on daily attendance data we do look to support students who are suspended at disproportionate rates by ensuring that they receive intervention prior to any possible suspensions. Data suggests that the interventions are resulting in fewer suspensions and we have not had a student expulsion in the last 3 years.

  2. Implementation & Monitoring of the Model

    The decision to establish Challenge Success as a club which would fall under the Associated Student Body (ASB/Leadership) program took place in the 2006-2007 school year. In December of 2007, the first “Stanford Survey of Adolescent School Experiences” was administered to all students. The data showed several key areas where students, the school, and the community needed support. Namely the areas of sleep, stress, student engagement, and parental support for healthy habits were identified as most critical.

    • Staff Changes: Faculty and staff meetings are focused on professional development. Strategies focus on the needs of individual students and several “fishbowl” activities jump started the process.  Guest speakers, short video clips, and interactive dialogues are now the norm. Administrators spend one week in classrooms listening to student needs, making announcements, and communicating with the most important stakeholder group in order to break down traditional barriers between students and administrators. Our counselor team tracks student mental health data and shares this data with all staff twice per year.
    • Parent Outreach: Outreach events provide parents with an opportunity to listen to experts and explore ways to reduce stressors in the lives of their students. Programs over the years have included, “College Match: Prestige versus Fit”, “The New Face of Academic Stress”. Choices: A Guide to Reducing Academic Stress”, “A Night with Dr. Gena Rhodes and Dr. Ethan Schwartz”, An Evening with Dr. Dan Tzuang and Dr. Suzanne Song, Expert Child Psychiatrists.” Parents from the feeder junior high and elementary schools were also encouraged to participate in our outreach events because the need for parent education begins prior to their child’s entry into high school. In the last two years Mission San Jose has partnered with our feeder elementary and middle school to develop attendance area-wide events focused on either health or well-being topics such as vaping and suicide awareness and also college fit vs. prestige.  These attendance area events remind parents that we are one K-12 community committed to the best research based and data supported means to help their children succeed.
    • Intervention Menu: Along with our need to address stress, we have now implemented 3 distinct intervention opportunities for students. STEMSuccess has evolved into a unique tailored peer tutoring system.  Students who need assistance log into the STEMSuccess portal and indicate, for example, that they would like help with Geometry. Then the moderators pair the student with a tutor who is qualified to assist in Geometry. Students who tutor are vetted by teachers who approve that they are able to provide reliable and consistent tutoring. Writers Block works in a similar fashion but the focus is on editing students written work. Using peer editing models, students who elect to or are referred to the program may submit their papers and have conversations with a peer editor to strengthen their written work. Participation in Target Success is by written invitation and an individual assessment meeting. Students who are struggling are referred to the program where they work with teachers to strengthen their English Language Arts skills.  Intervention involves help with homework, curriculum to strengthen vocabulary and writing skills, and assistance with math, social science, science, and world language courses. The supervising teachers also check-in with students, connect with parents, dialogue with the students teachers, and encourage the student while holding them accountable. These intervention plans are systematic and school-wide, they are independent of the individual teacher and communicated in writing to all stakeholders, students, staff, and parents. All three intervention programs are essential in that they focus on agreed-upon standards and the essential learning outcomes of Fremont Unified School District's curriculum.
  3. Results of the Model

    Assessment of Challenge Success practices provides information from all stakeholders using a variety of tools. The results redefine both classroom and extracurricular activities within our school. Discipline referrals, analysis of the D/F grade list and review of attendance records and student and family surveys are a means of monitoring improvement. More formal assessments include evaluation of the Stanford Survey of the Adolescent Experience and the California Healthy Kids Survey. Some of the results of the Stanford Survey focus on key areas which impact student health like hours of sleep or are a direct cause of increased stress such as cheating. The data showed that our students reported getting an average of 6.50 hours of sleep per night-three hours less than recommended by medical professionals. In 2017 part of the good news from the survey showed that our 12th graders were getting 7.06 hours of sleep per night and 11th graders were just over 6.5. Our 9th and 10th have room to grow as they report 6.12 hours per night on average. Only 11% off our students enjoyed schoolwork and 22% found it meaningful. 66% reported working hard and being focused in class in 2007. In 2017 those numbers have changed in a positive direction, 13% report enjoying schoolwork, 28% find it meaningful and 72% report being focused in class when the topic is interesting. When surveyed about school stress and academic worries in 2007, 73% reported that they were often or always stressed by schoolwork. In regards to cheating, 78% reported working together when independent responses were required and 66% said they had received answers prior to a test. Looking at the same questions 10 years later in 2017 we find that 77% of students are often or always stressed by schoolwork so we see this shows there is more work to do in this arena. Looking again at cheating we see that 39% report working together when independent responses were required and 22% report getting answers from someone prior to a test. The academic dishonesty questions show marked improvement. When examining data on the topic of Teacher Care and support 58% of students reported that they had at least one adult at school they felt they could go to if they had a problem in 2007. This information resonated with our staff and shocked them as they believe they do care but wish to ensure kids know they are approachable. Teachers did group meetings and collaborations to discuss how they would ensure that all students knew they were a resource adult on campus. That number increased to 66% on the 2010 survey. In the most recent Stanford survey from 2017 69% of the 12th grade cohort reported that they had an adult on campus they could go to if they have problems. Stanford broke down this data further for us and noted that of those adults on campus the following were the most frequent and first sources of support; Teachers at 48%, Counselors at 41%, a coach at 5%, and Administration at 4%. This is a new way to look at care and support and we relish the opportunity to seek an increase in these categories going forward.

    Community and attendance area parent outreach events are assessed using participation rates as well as paper and pencil evaluations of the speakers and topics. Feedback from one event usually is a catalyst for topics for following events.

    Student achievement is monitored through Advanced Placement participation and pass rates, ELPAC and CAASP results, and analysis of grade reports each quarter and semester. Further progress is evaluated based on the California Data Dashboard results published annually.

    Since the inception of Challenge Success, the students have led the charge to make two major changes. One, realizing that students at high performing schools compare themselves to each other creating stress and increased competition for university seats, students set out to eliminate class rank. The rank was eliminated from transcripts in 2011. Therefore students who have a very respectable 3.5 GPA do not have a rank that puts them in the bottom 1/3 of the class. Additionally, universities are forced to look deeper at the whole student when considering the applicant, not just skimming the “top” based on rank.

    Another major change is the later start time for high schools. Our students and parents lobbied the Board of Education to roll back the start time from 7:40 AM to 8:00 AM giving students a few more minutes of sleep. Using reliable data and expert opinions, the start time for all 5 comprehensive high schools was changed with the idea that student’s health and well-being would be improved. We also added a Wednesday “late start” day where all students begin classes at 9:00 AM. This accomplished two tasks. First, it allowed staff dedicated meeting and collaboration time before school so that supervisions and other after school activities do not conflict. But most importantly this gives students another sacred hour of sleep. We are now in the 3rd year of Thursday Advisory. This program carves out an hour of the day each Thursday for students to essentially do whatever they want on campus. Students are supervised by an adult but they may play basketball, study for exams, receive extra help and support from teachers, work on group projects and more.

    Our intervention options are seeing gains for students. As mentioned, our Target Success program has monitored participating students through grades and attendance. Seven students who were struggling tremendously in English have increased their letter grade in English by one full grade as compared to the previous grading period.