Performance Increase Dissemination Paper 2002-2003
Mr. Michael Zangwill, Principal
P373R, The Robert Randall School provides a twelve-month program and is a freestanding, self-contained school with a transportable classroom, unit, ideally located in the New Brighton section on the North Shore of Staten Island. We are located at 91 Henderson Avenue and provide service to the entire Staten Island Region 7 geographic area. This area affords easy access to public transportation. The R44 bus is located adjacent to the school building. Our school is in close proximity to historic, cultural and recreational opportunities that are incorporated to enhance our student's educational experience. Snug Harbor Cultural Center, Staten Island Museum, Staten Island Children's Museum, Goodhue Community Center, the Staten Island Zoo, Staten Island Yankee Ball Park, the National Lighthouse Museum (to be opened) as well as Clove Lakes Park are within easy reach of the school. Easy access to locations that provide for a child to observe or experience work of community service organizations is adjacent to the school. A nationally recognized hospital, St. Vincent's Medical Center, and the Staten Island Mental Health Society are both less than one half mile from the school.
P373R is a Specialized Instructional Environment for six 8:1:1 classes for children ranging in age from 4.9 - 8.9, seventeen 12:1:1 classes for children ranging in age from 8.0 - 12.3 and seven classes of 6:1:1 children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder ranging in age from 5.3 - 8.1. In addition, P373R provides service for ten fully included students at P22R and another six at P58R.. P373R provides a highly structured and intensive therapeutic environment that integrates instruction and support services within the school and community to students who experience delays in the acquisition and generalization of social/emotional skills. Presently ninety seven percent of our students qualify for Academic Intervention Services. A school wide positive behavior support plan entitled "Power of Choice" is fully implemented with ongoing staff development and support. Further, crisis intervention, guidance, occupational therapy, physical therapy, attendance, psychological services, full time nursing, and family outreach are all parts of our school program for our students who demonstrate severe, long-standing and pervasive emotional difficulties.
Under our auspices is a transportable classroom unit on the grounds of the Michael J. Petrides Educational Complex at 715 Ocean Terrace, Staten Island, NY 10301. This site is a short drive from the main building approximately 4 miles or 15 minutes away.
There are six classes at the newly constructed P58R in the New Springville area of Staten Island. This facility, our most distant is a 30 minute drive away. Ultimately, this facility will have eight District 75 classes.
Pre school, integrated inclusion classes serving 18 General Education children and 12 Special Education children too are among our population and are served at the Richmond Early Learning Center, 159 Broadway, Staten Island, NY 10310. The two classes at this site are located one mile from our main campus.
P373R utilizes the Power of Choice Program for its Positive Behavior support. The purpose of the Power of Choice Program is to assist the student to become successful in the school and community to help each individual make the right choices leading to both academic and social achievement. This is done through a point system that rewards appropriate and acceptable behaviors both academic and social. The program consists of two systems designed to develop responsibility in students. They are the pro-social and academic point systems.
Level System (Points)
The level system is designed to help students develop academic skills that ultimately result in higher levels of achievement leading to: increased privileges and increasingly greater involvement in school community life.
Pro-Social (Points) (Conflict resolution)
The correctional system is a conflict resolution procedure that cascades through a series of consequences designed to help children take control of their behavior. All staff become trained in Life Space Crisis Intervention strategies and use these techniques to address behaviors that disrupt the classroom environment.
P373R's Standards driven Instructional Program is commensurate with Part 100 Regulations and Section 100.2(ee). Presently P373R utilizes a variety of instructional materials to fulfill our mission. Currently we have implemented the NYCDOE curriculum for reading and math in all our classes. Balanced Literacy and Everyday Math have become instructional mainstays in our block-scheduled program. In P373R 139 students, which is 51 percent of the total students, participate in standardized assessments.
Transition's for our students is an ongoing problem whether between classes or between material used. Familiarity with classroom materials, being comfortable with texts, equipment, workbooks and format allays anxieties associated with the introduction of new materials. In the past we selected materials that use identical formats as students progress from one grade to the next. The new curriculum has also addressed this problem with the introduction of Balanced Reading and Everyday Math.
We have incorporated the following materials to increase student performance levels on State Standards. For language development and Language Arts we use Classroom Libraries that have been purchased to support Balanced Literacy. We continue to supplement our upper grades with Harcourt Brace Jovonovich's Signature Series. This series with texts and workbooks maintains consistency across the many grades in both context and format and the material is consistently engaging. This program has helped to set the benchmark requirements for academic success. With each ensuing year the program is an old friend revisited.
We have tried especially hard to enhance our writing curriculum. Teacher's and Writer's Collaborative funded through District 75 has been an on-going initiative at P373R for the last eight years. This has allowed teachers the opportunity to work with a professional writer in an effort to enhance the communication arts skills of our many students. This year four classes will participate in this initiative.
For our science core curriculum we are using materials originally sponsored by the Urban Systemic Initiative that include the Delta Science's SCIS 3+ Series. Again the familiarity of material and format are big reasons for the success of our science instruction. Science, to be learned, requires a hands-on approach. Our students have always had difficulty waiting for instructions or using equipment properly. This program builds successful experiments with measurable outcomes that, after a few successes, hold impulsive behaviors in check. Students wait for specific instruction because they want to be successful. The format is consistent across all grade levels and the program is standards based.
This year, our second, we are using Everyday Math for our younger classes K - 3 and continue to use the Math Plus Series for mathematics instruction. Again, using the same series across the grade levels generates less anxiety among students. Other initiatives that were instrumental in math instruction are the staff development training for using math manipulative and math journals that focus on the "question of the day." We believe these are the reasons we have seen improvement.
Another initiative we embarked on six years ago was to internally test all students in reading and mathematics. Using subsections of the Key Math and Woodcock Johnson teachers were able to teach to areas of weakness while supporting and rewarding areas of strength. Almost all students showed growth in one or more area or sub-sets of that area and students were rewarded for their growth. We believe it was important to have both the student and the teacher see the progress. With the more wide spread use of GROW reporting we can measure the same areas of need and have thus discontinued redundant internal testing.
Grade 3 ELA: Over the past two years results for all tested students show a decrease in the number of students scoring level1 and movement towards scores at the higher levels of level 1 and movement toward level two.
Grade 6 ELA: Over the past two years results for all tested students show a decrease in the number of students scoring level1 and movement towards scores at the higher levels of level 1 and an increased number of students scoring level two and three.
Grade 4 Math: 25 students tested 16% met the math standard which was an improvement of 11%
Our school has been concerned with consistent and sustained attendance. It is our belief that this is a primary building block of both school success and successful adult employment. We, therefore, have put into effect measures that help to ensure each child will meet promotion criteria relating to attendance.
We have an attendance team that includes one classroom teacher to monitor student performance, our pupil accounting secretary, and our attendance teacher. This group meets weekly and reports to each other factors that may be causing attendance problems and/or data that indicates pervasive absenteeism. The most relevant indicator, that which triggers a home visit from the attendance teacher, is consecutive absences. Weekly meetings allowed us to identify students that were absent three days in a row. We then used that benchmark to initiate home visits.
Two days absent always resulted in a phone call home.
The strength in this initiative was that we did not wait to see a more extreme pattern of failure to attend before we acted. To meet promotional criteria students require satisfactory attendance. It is our job to help them meet this, relatively simple, criterion.
The overall attendance for our program was an attendance rate of eighty-nine percent (89%). This was a comparable to the previous year.
The primary impetus to our shrinking numbers of children suspended is our behavior management program: Power of Choice. This program has consequences for both positive and non pro-social behaviors and is a mainstay of our philosophy that children, given choices, are able to make the right decision if rewards are appropriate to the students needs.
This program is a school wide initiative and has been successful on many levels. We believe that the reason it is successful is the attention to the details that, by our actions, reinforce the importance of Power of Choice in school life. All students receive a school handbook and all parents are schooled on the contents through PA meetings, parent teacher meetings and contact with counseling staff. Particular importance is paid to the section on Power of Choice.
Procedures that are followed include:
Each class period ends with a short recap of all student behaviors. Points are earned and logged onto a daily log. Points are transferred to a bankbook to be used in the school store or for privileges. Daily report cards are sent home for all students.
The system we have developed is clerically intensive and requires all staff to commit to the system for it to work. The idea has been in place for a long time, starting when the entire staff saw a need for a consistent across the board intervention program. Because we are an SBO school and interview our future staff before hiring, all new staff members commit to using Power of Choice and the procedures necessary to effectively maintain the program.
An often, overlooked aspect of any point system is the rewards. They must be appropriate, sufficient and varied, in a word, meaningful. To maintain the level of rewards we have to be creative. Many staff members solicit funding from local service organizations, use our school food shop at pricing that is at times more expensive than local deli's. Donate time and money to organize "Level Parties" for students that have reached particular point levels.
This commitment to a belief that an atmosphere that promotes positive self-image and that tangibly rewards achievement is worth the effort.
For the 2002- 2003 School Year P373R had no Principal or Superintendent suspensions.
Because of our behavior management program we have seen increases in students admitted to inclusion programs. For the same reasons our suspensions have decreased our inclusion students have increased: students are rewarded. The possibility of returning to general education when certain behavior and academic levels are maintained is motivating to many of our students and with the proper assistance it is achievable.
It is difficult to place students in general education. Many misconceptions exist. In order to help the dialogue between our organization and a potential partner community school we have used our SETTS teacher to organize information sessions with local schools. She has also organized staff development for cooperating, general education teachers that provide instruction to our included students. It is one thing to have a child ready for inclusion the difficulty sometimes is to have a community school willing to accept that child.
In 1999 - 2000 we had 12 children total in included programs: ten, (10) in full time inclusion and two, (2) in part time programs. During the 2000 -2001 school year we placed fourteen students in inclusion programming. Nine, (9) in full time and five, (5) part time. 2001-2002 we had ten (10) included students, all full time. And for academic year 2002-2003 14 included students.
In summary, we believe that we have well articulated our mission for the severely emotionally challenged children in our care. This existential philosophy: that each is responsible for their own actions includes high expectations for all children both socially and academically. We are adamant in our belief that this is moral and effective in helping our students to become productive members of society. Increased parental involvement, an emphasis on movement towards a less restrictive environment through inclusion has helped motivate students to meet their goals.