What are the keys to improving student achievement in a high-needs school?
I agree with herappleness's answer which includes almost everything needed. The addition I would make is the teacher and the student's belief. I had many of the most difficult students who came into my class defeated and defiant because they truly believed that they could not be successful. The key to turning around schools is that teachers believe in ALL kids, and teaching every child that they can experience success if they start where they are and build on what they already know no matter how little that is. Students were never allowed to not try, but the assignments may have been only three sentences. When they or parents asked me why, I explained that I could tell if they understood the concept in three sentences and why practice something incorrectly? Students learned that they received credit even if the work was incorrect, so long as they corrected it in their small group and made sure they understood. When we looked at paragraphs, several were put on the overhead and students looked for what the writer had done CORRECTLY. Then suggestions were made for improvement. My students soon learned to always try, that they too could be successful as they had also done something correctly on the paragraph, and then I could turn them loose more often to look at each other's work. They were overheard in the lunchroom talking about which answer or paragraph they liked best!
The difference was in their belief. They believed that they could, they always tried no matter what, and success was measured by what they learned and how they improved. I still believe that my students' high scores on state tests were because they believed in their own ability to improve and were determined to show that on state tests. They didn't opt out for the year, even if they opted out once in a while like every student. This is why I am so sad that veteran teachers are leaving teaching in droves, because now who will mentor the young teachers in how to get students to be successful?
check Approved by eNotes Editorial
High-need schools, formerly called "high risk" schools are educational institutions whose salient trait is their lack of social support systems, government support, and financial resources. They are also schools that project a majority of students who also lack these main needs at home, often coming from dysfunctional families where crime, drugs, and overall neglect often take place.
The issues concerning high-need schools are often resolved with a combination of
- concerned parents
- community advocates
- district resources
- government agency resources
- effective school leadership
Therefore, a high-need school would have to reinvent itself in order to re-visit its primary mission, vision, and goals.
First, an effective leadership group must be put in place. These are school leaders who are willing to develop a new mission for the school. A mission is essential to serve with purpose. Often, a mission tells the population what the school is attempting to do and willing to do to achieve top student performance.
The vision of the organization is the mantra by which all the school community will abide: some visions are "Working Together, Doing More", and things like that. Presenting the vision and mission to truly concerned and active parents and community members will "buy them into" the program and will likely result in them looking for ways to help more.
Presenting the mission and vision also drives the stakeholders of the school (politicians, community leaders, parents, students) to support the school by providing more resources such as
- social workers
- certified teachers
- media specialists
- educational technologists
- psychologists (to measure the cognitive competencies of each student)
Partnerships are made out of mentoring. When a high-needs school partners with a strong community group the chances of obtaining human and financial resources are higher. A high-needs school which is sponsored by, for example, a huge bank, a large corporation, or a strong community group will likely get the required manpower to help in the improvement of school grounds and, as a result, of student behavior. Partners in Education often offer grants and scholarships for students to attend after-school activities, or to initiate them at the school level.
Grants and other partnerships may provide schools much-needed educational resources which ease and enable better learning opportunities. For this, school officials must put themselves in the know, and tell the community about the reality of their school, about the importance of meeting their needs, and about the extent to which their help will benefit others.
Since no school can fix the homes from which high risk students come from, at least they can make the 8 hour day spent at school safe and worthwhile. A school which is safe, resourceful, and supported by the community will not continue at a "high risk" status for long. It is a matter of being sincere about the needs, about putting a plan (mission/vision/goal) in place, and about tapping on every possible human and financial resource that will potentially answer the call of help.
check Approved by eNotes Editorial