New strategy looks to lock on low-performing students

HANCOCK — High School and Middle School Principal Ezekiel Ohan and his staff have begun looking at teaching strategies and methods. The intent of a new strategy focuses on assisting the students who are the most proficient, while at the same time focusing on those students who are not as proficient for whatever reason.

Part of the system is designed to bring the students who are in the lowest 30 percent into proficiency.

The system allows the teachers to see that while it is good to look over achievement scores, there are more rewarding benefits, Ohan said.

“It’s great that we post our school scores,” he said, “but what’s even better is that we come back for those students who other schools might have forgotten. That’s the lowest 30 percent. And those we look to recover.”

To do that, Ohan said, a number of strategies have been put in place, which includes teachers determining the best approaches to learning.

The teachers work with a “content action plan” in five-week cycles, which relies on gathering and recording data. During professional development instruction, teachers identified the bottom 30 percent.

“They met as departments,” Ohan said, “and they’re figuring out, ‘What can I do as a teacher to reach and recover the bottom 30 percent? And now, do we move together as a department, or can we move independently, or do I have a cohort within my department?’ To all of them, yes — it’s available.”

At the end of the five-week cycle, teachers unpack the data to discover what it shows.

“It’s not to go in to prove something, it’s to go in and discover something,” Ohan said. “Was my strategy impactful? Yes or no? Was it positive or negative? The unpacking of that (data) are done in what we call ‘comprehensive data reviews.’ So, now, we are going by data, we are data-driven. It isn’t something that we feel. It’s something that we know. Then, we can put it on the board: ‘Hey, these are the strategies that work, and that are generalizable, meaning they don’t just work for English. They work for science or any other subject.”

Answering these questions aids the teacher in finding the strengths of the student, rather than the weaknesses.

“What are the strengths,” he said, “that you want to play to for students in recovery to allow them to demonstrate understanding?”

Ohan said it is in these ways that those students lacking proficiency are going to be helped.

“Now, you have lifted your bottom 30 percent into recovery,” Ohan said. “You lift the foundation, the whole house moves up.”