Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Southern Swing

Geographically speaking I have been in a compare and contrast phase in my traveling.  From the northern Rockies of Montana to the southern forests of Alabama in less than a week.  When I left Missoula last week, my plane had to be de-iced before it rose into the sky.  When I landed in Birmingham this week, a clear sky looked down on roses still in full bloom.

Despite the differences in climate between these two parts of our country, the change in climate to the schools in which we are working in each state is similar.  In one high school, last year 40% of seniors said they were proud of their school.  This year, 69% of seniors agree with that same statement.  "Teachers enjoy working with students" went from 59% in agreement to 82% agreement.  "I feel comfortable asking questions in class" moved up 28% to 82% from 54%.  These are just some highlights.  There are many positive results.

When I asked the teachers what they thought they were doing differently since beginning Aspirations work, they said "We are listening to the students more."  Simple.  They followed the survey with focus groups and many teachers are in a habit of checking in with students more frequently.  The teachers also report that they are seeing an improvement to students' academic achievement.  All the schools in Perry County continue to make Adequate Yearly Progress, but like many of the schools we are working with they have a new target.  No longer satisfied with "adequate" progress, these schools--with administrators, teachers, students, and parents in partnership--are targeting excellence.

If you haven't yet checked out our November newsletter, there is an article in it from some students in Perry County.

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