Thursday, March 28, 2013

Action Research Project Report

Action Research Project Title: Determining the Effectiveness of an In School Tutoring Program for Reading Intervention. Number of AR Project Documented Hours: 20 hours AR Project Summary (at least 250 words): The goal of my action research project is to determine the effectiveness of an in school tutoring program for reading intervention. The first action step was to meet with the director of the Austin Learning Center to discuss the possibilities of an in school tutoring program that focuses on reading improvement for secondary students reading significantly below grade level. We met in December 2012, and started the planning process. We looked at the current data that we had and determined a tentative schedule for the tutoring. We discussed the budget and what this meant as far as the number of tutors and hours that could be provided. We met again after the holiday break, and had to make some changes to our tentative schedule because the school had gone through a schedule redesign. The first step was to assess identified students to determine which students would be utilizing the tutoring. The tutors and I administered the STAR Reading Assessment, analyzed the data, and chose a group of 8 high school students who were all reading below the 3rd grade level to participate in the program. The tutors began their sessions, meeting with each student twice a week. Unfortunately, we had several students released from the court ordered program, so they were not able to finish the tutoring program. The good news is that the tutors were able to see progress in the short amount of time that they did receive the tutoring. We have had some issues come up in the program, such as the tutors not being able to meet with students due to the students’ behavior problems. I am hoping that this doesn’t impact the results in the end. The tutoring is still in the process of being implemented and will end on May 15, 2013. The tutors are using the Challenger Reading Program and are monitoring student progress regularly. After each tutoring session, the tutors’ record notes for each student which gives the time spent, a summary of the session, and needs that the student will continue to work on. I have been in constant communication with the tutors to work through any issues and to discuss student progress. The tutors have provided me with their tutoring notes so that I can monitor the progress and program. My action research project is coming along as expected and I look forward to the results.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Project Timeline - EDLD 5326 - Week 3


Task
Who?
What?
When?
Obtain approval from Principal and Travis County Administrators

Principal, School liaison (Christa Etheridge), Travis County Administrators



The school liaison (me) will be responsible for making sure the timeline is follwed.  I will obtain initial buy in and approval from my campus principal and Travis County administrators to partner with a mentor organization to provide mentors for students.  I will explain the need for mentors using current student data such as risk factors and low student achievement.  I will present research findings to demonstrate the poitive effects that a mentoring program can have on student achievement.
June 2013
Form a committee of stakeholders and hold an informal meeting
Principal, School liaison (Christa Etheridge), Mentor Organization representative, Teachers, School Counselors, Travis County Leadership Counselors, Probation Officers, Travis County Administrators, parents
At our first meeting, stakeholders will discuss the possibility of a partnership.  Stakeholders will discuss what each party can contribute to the partnership.  The team will discuss the resources required such as school counselors, teachers, Travis County counselors and support staff, mentors, funding, and the school facility to hold meetings, as well as how they will be obtained.  The committee will also determine what funding is needed to start and maintain the program, and also the types of possible funding sources, such as title one funds, donations, and grants.  The committee will agree on a date for a follow up meeting to determine roles and develop the plan.
June 2013
Determine roles and responsibilities of key staff members responsible for the program

Principal, School liaison (Christa Etheridge), Mentor Organization representative, Teachers, School Counselors, Travis County Leadership Counselors, Probation Officers, Travis County Administrators, parents
Identify key staff members responsible for the program, and clearly define their roles and responsibilities.  The mentor organization will have the primary responsibility for the operations of the mentoring program.  I will serve as the school liaison. 
July 2013

Develop a plan and measurable goals for implementation. 

Principal, School liaison (Christa Etheridge), Mentor Organization representative, Teachers, School Counselors, Travis County Leadership Counselors, Probation Officers, Travis County Administrators, parents
Collaboratively develop a clear statement of our purpose and goals, discuss the selection or matching plan for tutor-mentors to students, and develop a schedule for the tutor-mentors to meet with students. Determine how the program will be evaluated.  This will all be documented in a written agreement.
July 2013

Mentor recruitment, selection, and orientation

Mentor organization representative and staff, School liaison (Christa Etheridge), Travis County Administrators
The mentor organization will be responsible for recruiting and selecting mentors.  The mentors will be given training provided by the mentor organization, and will also go through a short orientation provided by Travis County and the school.  The mentor will be provided with activities to use when working with students such as reading books together, having lunch together, and helping with homework.  The students will also be involved in deciding how the pair will spend their time together.

July – August 2013

Inform parents and students and obtain parental  consent

School liaison (Christa Etheridge), counselors, Parents, Students
The school will inform all parents and students about the program by including a description in the school newsletter, mailing a brochure of information home, placing flyers on bulletin boards in visitation areas, and talking directly to parents.  If the parents are Spanish speaking, a translated copy of all materials will be included.  Parents will sign a permission form allowing their child to be mentored. 
August 2013

Informal assessment to match students with mentors                         

School liaison (Christa Etheridge), mentor organization representative, counselors, students
A thoughtful matching process will increase the chance that the mentor and student will develop a beneficial relationship.  The students will be given an informal assessment to identify their interests, needs, and strengths.  The match will be made by focusing first on the interests and needs of the particular student, and then take into account the mentor’s skills, interests, and preferences. 
August 2013
Mentors meet with students once a week during the school year

Mentors, students, School liaison (Christa Etheridge), mentor organization representative
The students will be meeting with their mentors at least once a week while they are in the residential treatment facility, but mentors will continue to provide their guidance after the student is released.  The tutor-mentor will be provided with activities to use when working with students such as reading books together, having lunch together, working on specific skills, and helping with homework.  The students will also be involved in deciding how the pair will spend their time together.
  
September 2013  – May 2014 (once a week)

Host a family night once a month

Principal, School liaison (Christa Etheridge), Mentor Organization representative, Teachers, School Counselors, Travis County Leadership Counselors, parents, students
Host a family night once a month where the mentor-tutors meet with students and their parents to develop relationships and discuss student progress.  This will be a time to give parents updates on how students are doing, and also support parents by providing them with suggested strategies for working with the students once they are released from the program.
September 2013  – May 2014
(once a month)

Program Evaluation and Data Analysis

School liaison (Christa Etheridge), Mentor Organization representative, Teachers, School Counselors, Travis County Leadership Counselors, parents, students
The effectiveness of the program will be evaluated at the end of the school year.  At this time, we will identify whether goals and objectives have been met.  This will be done by soliciting feedback from all stakeholders through formal surveys.  In addition, data will be collected and analyzed from the participants such as test scores, grades, behavior reports, attendance reports, and class participation reports.

June 2014
Report evaluation results to stakeholders and make plans to continue the program the next school year.

Principal, School liaison (Christa Etheridge), Mentor Organization representative, Teachers, School Counselors, Travis County Leadership Counselors, Probation Officers, Travis County Administrators, parents
The evaluation results will be presented to all stakeholders.  A final report will be generated that includes information about the effectiveness of the program, the data collected, and the results.  This report will be mailed to all stakeholders, including parents.  This report will also be shared at a meeting with stakeholders.  The results will be used to make improvements for the next school year.
June 2014

EDLD 5326 - Week 2

Current Reality: Identify a current student issue or need that interferes with academic achievement at your school. Cite data that supports the need. This could be data that relates to academic achievement, student attendance, discipline, or other sources. Look at trends of data and disaggregated data, where available.

Currently, 100% of our students are identified as “at risk”.  83% of students enrolling in the court ordered Leadership Academy Residential Facility are reading below grade level.  Many students had poor school attendance before enrolling at our campus, and 100% have been arrested more than 3 times.  This affects student achievement in all areas.  The recidivism rate is high for our students, and many end up dropping out of school.  Our students are in need of role models and a positive support system. 
Vision: How will the family-school-community partnership that you are proposing resolve the issue by meeting the demonstrated need, and how will it support student achievement?
Proposed Partnership:  Tutor-Mentoring Program made up of volunteers from the community.  These volunteers would serve as role models, academic tutors, and a positive support system.
The tutor-mentor volunteers would not only help students work on academic skills, but would also serve as positive role models. The students on my campus would benefit from a positive adult relationship, and the tutor-mentor would provide support and guidance now and in the future when they are no longer in the residential treatment program.  Each student would be matched with a tutor-mentor.  To support student achievement, the tutor-mentor would meet with the students after school and on the weekends to work on academic skills and homework.  With a mentor-tutor, the students are more likely to attend and stay in school, improve grades, and are less likely to get in trouble in and out of school.

 Describe the need for the new or improved school-community partnership. Summarize the strategies/ activities you are recommending.

Students are in need of a positive adult relationship with a mentor-tutor that will help to increase student achievement in all areas, both academically and personally.

The strategies that I am recommending would be to start by contacting mentor-tutor programs in the community to form a partnership with our program.  Next, we would form a committee consisting of campus teachers, school counselors, Travis County staff such as probation officers and members of the treatment team, and a representative from the community program that will be providing the tutor-mentors.  At our first meeting, we would collaboratively develop a clear statement of our purpose and goals, discuss the selection or matching plan for tutor-mentors to students, and develop a schedule for the tutor-mentors to meet with students.  The students will be meeting with their mentors once or twice a week while they are in the residential treatment facility, but will continue to provide their guidance after the student is released.  The tutor-mentor will be provided with activities to use when working with students such as reading books together, having lunch together, and helping with homework.  The students will also be involved in deciding how the pair will spend their time together.

Another activity would be to host a family night once a month where the mentor-tutors would meet with students and their parents to develop relationships and discuss student progress.  This would be a time to give parents updates on how students are doing, and also support parents by providing them with suggested strategies for working with the students once they are released from the program.
Reference the research that supports the strategies/ activities you are recommending.

According to the National Dropout Prevention Center, mentoring has proven to be effective with many different youth groups, but has been extremely effective with youth in at-risk situations.
Mentoring has proven to be an effective strategy for keeping students in school.  Programs across the country have an abundance of solid evidence supporting this fact.  For example, the most comprehensive national research evidence is from a thorough review of Big Brother/Big Sister programs (Tierney & Grossman, 1995) showing these results:
46% decrease in initiating drug use;
27% decrease in initiating alcohol use;
38% decrease in number of times hitting someone;
37% decrease in skipped classes; and
37% decrease in lying to parents.
Another nationwide study reported similar positive results from mentor programs. The Commonwealth Fund's survey (McLearn, Colasanto, and Schoen, 1998) reported the following:
62% of students improved their self-esteem;
52% of students skipped less school;
48% of students improved their grades;
49% of students got into less trouble in school;
47% of students got into less trouble out of school;
45% of students reduced their substance abuse; and
35% of students improved family relationships.
According to the National Mentoring Partnership website, studies of mentoring programs that provide youth with one-to-one mentoring relationships have provided strong evidence of their success in reducing the incidence of delinquency, substance use and academic failure. In addition, these studies also show that youth mentoring programs can promote positive outcomes, such as improved self-esteem, social skills and knowledge of career opportunities.

Compose three or more measurable goals for the school-community partnership.
1.  100% of students will participate in the tutor-mentor program.   

2.  Mentors will meet with students 1-2 times a week, for 45 minute sessions where they will build relationships while working on identified academic skills.

3.  The students will show improved grades in all courses.

4.  Parents will be given progress updates of students once a month.

5.  The recidivism rate of students participating in the program will decrease.

6.  The graduation rate of students participating in the program will increase by 50%.

How will the school-community partnership increase student achievement?

The tutor-mentor will act as a role model and provide positive support for the students’ academic, social, and emotional growth.  If the students have a trusted adult that takes the time to show that they care about their well-being, the students are more likely to make positive choices. The tutor-mentor will tutor students to improve educational skills such as reading and math.

Identify the school-community partnership’s stakeholders.

The partnership’s stakeholders include students, parents, teachers, counselors, school and district staff, Travis County treatment team members, probation officers, and community volunteers to serve as tutor-mentors.

What are the steps to approval and implementation of the partnership? What are possible sources of funding?
The first step to getting approval for the partnership will be to discuss all aspects with the principal.  Once the principal approves the program, the next step will be to get approval from Travis County.  Next, will be the implementation phase.

Implementation Steps:
1. Create a committee consisting of campus teachers, school counselors, Travis County staff such as probation officers and members of the treatment team, and a representative from the community program that will be providing the tutor-mentors. 
2.  Develop a clear statement of our purpose and goals, discuss the selection or matching plan for tutor-mentors to students, and develop a schedule for the tutor-mentors to meet with students. 
3.  Develop a recruitment and selection plan for the tutor-mentor volunteers.
4.  Develop a training program that offers continuous support for the tutor-mentor.
5. Have students and mentors complete a questionnaire to help match the two together.
6. Develop a schedule for the tutor-mentor meetings to take place.
7. Set monthly meeting dates to hold a family group where the tutor-mentor can meet with the students and their parents.
8. Monitor and evaluate the program.

Possible sources of funding are title one funds and grants. 

What resources are required for the partnership?

Resources required for the partnership are school counselors, teachers, Travis County counselors and support staff, tutor-mentor volunteers from the community, title one funds, and the school facility to hold meetings.

How will you market your school-community partnership idea?

The idea will be marketed by creating a website of information, school announcements, flyers, bulletin boards, phone calls, visits, and word of mouth.  To build support and buy-in, a monthly newsletter will be sent to all stakeholders that will include news of activities, profiles of participants, inspiring quotes, and other available resources for tutor-mentors.

How will you evaluate your partnership’s outcomes?

The outcomes will be evaluated through ongoing evaluation and monitoring.  I will solicit feedback from all stakeholders by asking them to fill out formal surveys.  I will also evaluate the program by analyzing data from the participants such as test scores, grades, graduation rates, and behavior.  The evaluation measures will help to ensure that we continually improve the quality of the program.