Milestones Spotlight: Gideons

We’re highlighting a few schools that showed improved achievement in 2018. Each post will include an interview with the principal and a review of their data. Today we’ll look at Gideons Elementary.

Gideons started a partnership with The Kindezi Schools in 2018, which was also Danielle Washington’s first year as the principal. We can see in the graph below that Gideons had higher math scores in 2018 than other schools with similar poverty levels. The dotted line shows their improvement over the past three years. (See here for more details.)

The next graph shows the percentage of students performing at developing or above on the Milestones (in other words, above the beginner level). Gideons had the most improvement in 3rd grade math, where they moved from 36% developing and above to 76%, and in 4th grade math, where they moved from 43% to 75%.

Notice that both have the above graphs have the ability to toggle to other metrics, such as percent proficient.

To learn more about how Gideons improved their math results, we interviewed the principal, Danielle Washington.

Gideons showed large gains in third and fourth grade math. What changes or strategies are responsible for the improvement?

While our teachers and administrators employed many instructional and coaching strategies that led to our scholars’ improvement in math, one of the most impactful strategies was our approach to teacher observations, coaching, and instructional planning. This new approach was implemented as a result of our partnership with The Kindezi Schools.

Each teacher receives a weekly observation from their administrator, as well as a weekly one-on-one coaching session. During coaching sessions, administrators share observation feedback, model research-based instructional strategies, and provide teachers with the opportunity to practice instructional delivery before presenting to students. Additionally, teachers are required to plan collaboratively by attending weekly lesson planning clinics. During clinics, teachers and administrators work together to unpack standards, analyze student performance data, and identify the most effective instructional strategies aligned to each week’s standards. We employ this strategy in ELA as well.

While we saw small gains in reading, our math increase is indicative of the national trend of math progress outpacing reading in turnaround settings.

Thanks for describing what occurs during coaching sessions and lesson planning clinics. Are there any resources you would recommend for school leaders who want to implement those strategies?

For more information on those strategies, I would recommend Leverage Leadership 2.0, Driven by Data, and Get Better Faster. All three books are by Paul Bambrick-Santoyo.

What strategies are you using this year to maintain that improvement and extend it to other grades and subjects?

This year, we plan to continue our focus on providing our teachers with high-quality coaching and professional development. Additionally, we have launched an independent reading initiative to target school-wide literacy gaps, as well as expanding our after school tutorial program to serve students in 2nd-5th grades.