A whole school approach to increase eligibility rates to upper secondary school in a municipal compulsory school, grades 7-9.
The school experienced an achievement gap between ”low achievers” and ”high achievers” and there were groups of students at the school with low levels of ”school connectedness”. About 20 students displayed clear signs of disengagement in terms of attendance, achivement, behaviors and motivation. Mainly the disengagement problems seemed to be common among students from homes in which a study tradition was less pronounced.
In the fall of 2015 the school joined the national project Plug In, and from January of 2016, changes have been made in the school which involve both the structures and support system and the instructional practices in order to reduce the disangagement and support more students to reach eligibility to a national program in upper secondary school. The main changes can be descrived as follows:
-A new student “support center” was formed– accessible at almost all times, and especially serving pedagogical needs but with a ”holistic” approach serving a range of needs of all students.
-A ”student coach” was recruited - available to address broad range of needs, with a special task to build positive relationships with students and strengthen their school connectedness. The flexible position makes it possible to reach out to students outside of school.
-Strenghtened routines and digital system/EWS that monitors students´progress and picks up broad range of needs/risk factors and speeds up the onset of measures.
-Strengthened focus on developing shared practises for enhancing positive teacher-student interactions and a relational pedagogy.
-Strengthened cooperation between student health team and teachers at the school partly via the student support center. Especially, cooperation was strengthened between teachers and the special needs teachers and education and career counsellor.
-Making learning more meaningful and relevant for students by working with projects and role models connecting more closely with their experiences/interests. Also by an increased focus on formative assessment practises.
-Offering more flexible, individual study plans by way of adjusting study pace and scheduling and using the support centre for individualized tracks and instruction.
-Offering possibilities to study fewer parallel subjects as well as offering various solutions for test-taking situations partly by using the student support centre.
Since 2016 there has been a substantial improvements in the results of students at the school. The average grades have improved and the rates of course completion, as well as the rates of eligibility to upper secondary school (USS).
In June 2017 89% of the students were eligible for USS.
-17/19 of the ”at-risk” students at the school were eligible for USS.
-The 19 students ”at-risk” all raised their grade points averages – in one case a student´s points rose from 62,5 to 180 points.
Context of good practice
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Target group of good practice:
School leaders & Teacher educators
Anneli Juholt (Local SEN teacher; Local project manager)
a secondary school of Oskarshamn