“Stoplights” Work at William Henry Middle School
When you walk into William Henry Middle School, you may be surprised at one of the first things you see. Next to the welcome signs and entry doors, there is a big green, yellow, and red board with markers indicating how the school is doing academically. If you walk around the school, you will find many smaller versions of this chart next to every classroom. But what are these stoplight-like signs?
When William Henry first joined the Vision Network, it was having trouble getting its students to communicate what they had learned. After reviewing several years of student data as part of the Vision Network training, the school recognized a disparity between students learning the material and students using the material. Some students could talk about the information they learned, but couldn’t write it; some kids could write it, but didn’t test well; still others could not put their knowledge of the material into words. This resulted in the school-wide adoption of an instructional focus centered on critical thinking and communication.
From there, the school worked with Vision Network trainers to shift its resources to focus on creating an environment that encourages communication and development. This first thing the leadership team learned from Vision Network trainers was how to use data to track student learning and use it as a tool for intervention. With this knowledge, they developed a program of reading evaluation in which students are tested three times a year to measure how well the student understands the material via critical thinking and reading exercises. This evaluation program not only gives the teacher an understanding of students’ reading levels, but also can be used by the students to track their individual growth.
The data produced from this evaluation system—each student’s scores by his or her level of performance—is displayed on the green, yellow, and red boards around the school. Red is well below standards, yellow is below standards, and green is meeting or beating the standards. The student’s scores are posted anonymously so students can safely check their own scores and compare them to the scores of their peers.
“The students have really begun to own the data,” explains Principal Eric Niebrzydowski. “They understand it as a picture of their work, and they use it for motivation. You can even hear the students talk about their scores, and you can see those scores are improving. We have seen the number of students in the red decrease, and the other colors increase.”
So when you visit William Henry and see those green, yellow, and red signs, notice how many markers are in the green and know that each one those markers represents where William Henry Middle school and the Vision Network have enabled a child to succeed.
This post is the first of a 6 part series highlighting Vision Network schools. Check back Tuesday for part 2.