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Transforming the Culture & Academic Outcomes in a Low Performing Urban Middle School

Session 5
Brian Johnson, Margaret Salvante, Regina Young, Christine Jones, Camille Banks — Brian Johnson, Founding Redesign Principal at Tilden Middle School; Margaret Salvante, Founding Redesign Member at Tilden Middle School; Regina Young, Community School Coordinator at the Mayor's Office of Philadelphia, Christine Jones, Blended Learning Coach a

Participants in this conversation will discuss the challenges, solutions, and outcomes of the school reform efforts implemented by the leadership team of Tilden Middle School as part of the SDP Redesign Initiative.

Our challenges included: fixed mindset and low expectations among some members of the school community; students from high need community with limited access to resources; high percentages of students having experienced trauma and in need of behavior supports; persistent below basic academic performance of school with high percentages of students r coming in from elementary schools with below grade level reading and math skill levels; and an influx of new students from two rival neighborhood middle schools closed due to persistent low performance.

Our solutions were to increase the quality of instruction by choosing to redesign the school using the Blended Learning model; target PD to develop teacher capacity with the main focus of improving student outcomes; improve the culture and climate through the Community School initiative, Student Leadership, and PBIS; and engage families and the surrounding community in the school through the Community School Initiative.

Our outcomes include: increased willingness of teaching staff to try things differently; formal and informal observations data showed increase in the use of high impact instructional practices observable through the Danielson Framework; increase in student outcomes - from attendance to academic growth (Average Daily Attendance (ADA) increased by 6 points to 91.2%; percent of students attending school greater than or equal to 95% increased by 7.5%; PVAAS Data shows school now meets or exceeds the state standards for growth in all subjects except for the 5th ELA & 6th Math in 2nd redesign year; increase in School Performance Profile overall score); decrease in suspensions showed an overall improvement in the culture and climate of the school (suspensions decreased by 10%, from 80% to 90%).

Conversational Practice

Participants in this conversation will be engaged through the Problem of Practice Protocol, also known as the Consultancy Protocol, developed by the Coalition of Essential Schools and the Annenberg Institute for School Reform. We will begin with an overview of our redesign process and a presentation of our current problem of practice which involves persistent limited math and reading growth by our fifth grade students despite the implementation of high impact teaching strategies. Conversation participants will grapple with the data that describes this problem, and brainstorm potential strategies to address it. Our intended take away is to have generated actionable ideas for the next steps of our school reform effort. The outcome we expect for our audience is a deeper understanding of the unique challenges faced by urban middle schools along with a set of actionable strategies for advancing student achievement.

Conversation Links

Presenter Profiles

Brian Johnson
Brian Johnson
Tilden Middle School


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