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Part III: School Improvement Performance Plan


School Improvement Goal
Eighty-five percent of 8th grade males at Forestbrook Middle School will demonstrate
mastery of the English Language Arts standards as evidenced by PASS scores by increasing the
percentage of male students scoring Met/Exemplary by 17% in the 2017/2018 school year.
School Improvement Objectives
1. Eighth Grade males at Forestbrook Middle School will demonstrate mastery of the
English Language Arts standards as evidenced by PASS scores by increasing the
percentage of male students scoring Met/Exemplary by 7% in the 2015/2016 school year.
2. Eighth Grade males at Forestbrook Middle School will demonstrate mastery of the
English Language Arts standards as evidenced by PASS scores by increasing the
percentage of male students scoring Met/Exemplary by 5% in the 2016/2017 school year.
3. Eighth Grade males at Forestbrook Middle School will demonstrate mastery of the
English Language Arts standards as evidenced by PASS scores by increasing the
percentage of male students scoring Met/Exemplary by 5% in the 2017/2018 school year.
Attaining this goal would greatly improve the performance of all students at Forestbrook
Middle School. Sixth and seventh grade boys perform at a nearly equal percentage as the girls,
but there is a dramatic drop in the performance of male students in the eighth grade on ELA tests.
As a matter of fact, males outperform females in the sixth grade! Additionally, the performance
of other subgroups including the disabled subgroup and the African-American subgroup weakens
from sixth to eighth grade, and I attribute that decline to the performance of males. In particular,
the performance of the disabled subgroup drops from 44% Met or Exemplary in seventh grade to
38% in eighth grade. Due to the high number of males identified for special education, it makes

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sense that targeting the male population in general in eighth grade would benefit the whole
school. There are a lot of changes going on with students physically, developmentally, and
emotionally, and schools are doing a better job of meeting the needs of female students at that
level. Eighth grade is a crucial time for students as they prepare for high school, and sending
them to the high school with such underperformance is not acceptable.
Table 14. 2014 Forestbrook Middle School 8th Grade English Language Arts (Reading
and Research) Percentages
Total Tested

% Not Met

% Met

% Exemplary

% Met or Exemplary

All Students

354

23.2

29.7

47.2

76.8

Male

186

31.2

27.4

41.4

68.8

Table 14. shows that 31.2% of males score Not Met in reading in 8th grade. Only 23.2%
of all students score Not Met.
Table 15. 2014 Forestbrook Middle School 7th Grade English Language Arts (Reading
and Research) Percentages
Total Tested

% Not Met

% Met

% Exemplary

% Met or Exemplary

All Students

357

16.0

28.9

55.2

84.0

Male

167

18.0

28.7

53.3

82.0

Table 15. shows that 18% of males score Not Met in reading in 7th grade. This is closer to
the percent of all students varying by only 2% from all students.
Table 16. 2014 Forestbrook Middle School 6th Grade English Language Arts (Reading
and Research) Percentages

All Students

Total Tested

% Not Met

% Met

% Exemplary

% Met or Exemplary

374

19.3

26.2

54.5

80.7

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Male

219

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18.3

26.9

54.8

81.7

Table 16. shows that in 6th grade, males actually outperform whole student group by 2%.
In sixth grade, males actually do better than girls on the reading test.
Research-Based Differentiated Instructional Strategies
It is clear from this data that eighth grade boys significantly underperform. Going from
82% Met or Exemplary in seventh grade to 68% Met or Exemplary in eighth grade is
unacceptable. From my own experience with teaching boys, I know that they learn much
differently than girls, and as the boys and girls become increasingly more different physically
and emotionally, it makes sense that an account of learning styles is necessary. Teaching in a
diverse classroom must begin with core skills distributed to students in differentiated styles.
Girls often learn better by talking about what they are learning while boys learn when they apply
that knowledge quickly or become physically involved in the learning process. Jennipher
Willoughby advocates for distributing a learning styles analysis to begin meeting the individual
needs of students. Differentiation can exist in the following ways according to Willoughby: the
content of instruction, the processes and techniques used to help make sense of a given topic, and
the products produced by students that demonstrate their learning (2005).
While I personally believe that teaching boys begins with a solid relationship that ensures
adolescent males that the teacher is intrinsically interested in their learning, this relationship
should lead to differentiated instruction based on the three above modes. Boys should receive
information in a different way to process and produce the product in a different way than girls
do. At the core of this differentiation is a teacher willing to go the extra mile to ensure quality
engagement for boys. This takes time and effort that many teachers are not willing to put in.

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In 2015, teachers benefit from the added technology component in the classroom which
tailors student instruction to learning styles and abilities. My male students are always more
vocal about activities that are "too easy or "dumb. Girls tend to just go along with whatever
the teacher asks them to do, but boys often act as if they are insulted by materials that do not
meet their needs. This trend grows throughout the middle school experience, and by eighth
grade, boys are extremely vocal about the disconnection between themselves and the classroom
experience. Eighth grade ELA teachers must utilize technology not only to suit the intellectual
needs to all students but also the learning style differences represented by male and female
students.
Even with learning styles and intellectual abilities accounted for, there is no substitution
for positive relationships and quality classroom environment. Boys need to feel ownership over
their learning, and this means ownership over the classroom. The South Carolina State Library
says in a report about schools closing the achievement gap that they have research to support the
connection between "positive school climate and student achievement (Monrad, et al, 2007). It
makes sense that students do better in general in a school with a positive culture; likewise, it
makes sense that teachers who create a positive learning environment can have an even greater
impact on student learning than teachers who do not promote a positive culture. To execute the
smart goal set for Forestbrook Middle School, eighth grade ELA teachers need to structure
learning tasks and products that suit the needs of adolescent males, allow adolescent males to
take ownership of the learning process, and build relationships with at-risk males to demonstrate
the importance of their learning and the genuine concern of the teacher
The allocation of resources is an important concern when considering this SMART
objective. While targeting these males in the ELA classroom does not require any extra staff, the

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time required to create and implement tailored materials will put a strain on the already-overtaxed ELA teacher. I recommend an enrichment class through exploratory time that would
provide extra time for these males to achieve. A process in which boys who are between met and
not met status could be identified and placed in the class must occur, but most importantly,
administration would need to utilize staff interested in meeting this goal to teach the class. If that
requirement is not met, this project could do more harm than good. These boys need a
passionate teacher who is invested in their performance to teach the class. Two classes of 25
boys each could dramatically change the data. This is an allocation of resources that would not
cost much, but it would require a great amount of buy-in from teachers.
The article "Using Bloom's Taxonomy to Help Guide Technology Decision-Making in
Schools by Dickerson and Coleman explains how technology promotes "divergent instruction
[which] focuses on higher critical thinking levels of Bloom's Taxonomy and is student-centered
(2013). It is this kind of instruction that is central to the reeducation of males at Forestbrook
Middle School. They need to be thinking at higher levels through diverse means of instruction to
produce products that are immediately tied to success. Basically, the fluff needs to go, and
teachers who are focused on tackling this problem must ensure that every minute of the class is
rich with purpose.
My proposal for improving the ELA scores for boys in the eighth grade is to begin with
one or two approaches. Administrators should recruit ELA teachers who are motivated to tackle
the problem to take on ELA at the eighth grade level. These teachers should either be given
groups of boys in single-gender classrooms or should weekly provide single-gender grouping
within the classroom. Boys identified as potentially Not Met should be given instruction and
project-based assignments that are differentiated for individual learning styles and research-

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based strategies for educating the adolescent male. Teachers should meet weekly to discuss the
progress of these identified students using common assessments, digital content data, and MAP
scores. Another option would be to provide an enrichment block during exploratory time to
explore project based learning. At the heart of this, however, must be an ELA teacher who is
focused on building positive relationships with these students, being patient at all times, and
setting high expectations.
Long-term Resource Needs
The most important resource needed to accomplish the SMART Goal for FMS to increase
the performance of 8th grade males to 85% Met or Exemplary status in reading is staff
acceptance of the goal itself. Achievement of this goal will not only require staff to believe in
the goal but also their willingness to rearrange schedules and allocate time to plan. In many
cases, this is one of the rarest resources of all--especially in schools where staff are resistant to
change. Since the objective will only directly involved eighth grade English teachers, grade
assignments should be shifted at the beginning of the school year to allow for teachers who are
most interested in achieving the goal to work in the eighth grade classrooms. Additionally, any
new hires throughout the three year period should receive information about the school's goal,
and a candidate's ability and interest to participate in the process should be considered. The goal
is unattainable if high-quality staff members who are willing to participate and be generous with
their time are not available. Administration must make certain that this resource is in place prior
to the first year of implementation.
A second resource needed for the process is professional development for participating
teachers. Teachers must understand the research behind gender-based learning, they must be
fully immersed in the data that signals the problem, and they must have a plan of attack. Since

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building relationships with these males is so important, teachers also need time to plan their
community that will be the crux of this project. This professional development time should
extend beyond the regular PD requirements of the school and district, but teachers should be
compensated for this extra time through exchange time. This resource is closely tied with the
time resource needed for teachers. Since teachers will either be planning for additional activities
or even teaching another class on top of their other requirements, allowances must be made
throughout the day. For example, participating teachers could be excused for duty requirements
throughout the year for some compensation. Student time is an additional resource needed for
this project. Students identified for participation could forego an exploratory block for ELA
enrichment.
The final resources necessary for implementation are instructional materials and
assessment data. Since either the enrichment model through exploratory time or grouping within
the classroom require activities beyond the regular curriculum, teachers will need extra
resources. This should be the only portion of the plan that requires much additional funding, and
since this program does not target the special education subgroup, the only additional funding the
school could receive would be in the form of grants. The team should be assembled prior to the
beginning of the 2015/2016 school year to allow participating teachers time to apply for grants
that would fund the program. This would allow teachers to develop the curriculum using
researched-based strategies and plan projects that would suit the needs of eighth grade males.
Throughout the year, teachers will need to use MAP data to monitor the progress and
success of the program using NWEA MAP data which predicts student performance on PASS.
This will not require additional funding as all students are required to MAP test through ELA
classes. Staff and time are truly the most important resources needed for the objective. Teachers

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will need to spend hours together planning and sharing ideas as well as reflecting on progress. It
must all begin with teachers willingness to participate at the onset of the objective, and that must
come out of a true passion to meet the needs of these previously overlooked students.
Professional Development Plans
Teachers selected to participate in the objective as well as administration and guidance
who are directly involved in the project must be immersed in research-based professional
development that educates teachers on learning styles, adolescent growth and development, and
adolescent relationships. Staff must understand the radical differences between classrooms
participating in this goal and other classrooms in the building. They must have clear
expectations for the goal, and must understand the expectations of the administration for
reaching the goal. Teachers are often fearful of what will be lost in radical classroom change.
Classrooms filled with adolescent boys will be louder and more chaotic, and they will not look
the same as other rooms from the window. Teachers must be confident in administration's
support to implement the goal, and they must be free to operate their classroom based on the PD
they are given. That said, good PD must be given!
The most important professional development necessary to meet this objective is
establishing a community for reflection and planning for the teachers who are responsible for the
goal. This will tax the teachers, and they must be able to lean on each other and learn from each
other. The males selected for participation in the goal will not create a community themselves if
they do not feel that the teachers have already created one themselves.
Because this is a plan aimed at increasing the reading scores of at-risk males, the program
must be centered on creating a culture of reading. This will require a great deal of professional
development for teachers that looks a lot like having them read--a lot. Teachers cannot support

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the reading of students if they are not readers themselves, and since the whole program is about
getting outside of the traditional model that is working well for girls, it is likely that teachers will
need to re-educate themselves on the reading material available for adolescent males. This can
be accomplished throughout the community of teachers, but it must be support by
administration--even if it looks like teachers are "reading books.
Maximization of Instructional Time & Student Learning
My smart goal which states that 85% of 8th grade boys will be Met or Exemplary on
PASS by the 2017/2018 school centers on maximizing instructional time and student learning. I
advocate for an additional ELA related instructional block to be given to identified boys. This
program will include a teacher-designed curriculum that suits both the individual needs of each
boy and the general learning needs of adolescent males. This maximizes instructional time by
still providing the standard hour of ELA instruction for these students to include word-part study,
grammar, and literary skills while using the additional hour for projects and relationship-focused,
interest-based learning.
The curriculum for this course will allot most class time to reading and writing about
topics students are most interested in. Instead of "assigning reading, the teacher will build a
relationship with the students to suggest readings that will most interest them. At the same time,
teachers guide students toward an understanding of how literacy skills affect future career
choices. For example, Achieve3000, instructional technology already in place in Horry County
Schools, matches student Lexile to career choices. By giving this time outside the traditional
ELA classroom, these boys will see how important it is to increase their reading ability to work
in the field of their choice. At the same time, they will see the immediacy of their growth as
readers. In an article published by the National Education Association called "Four Reading

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Motivators for Teenage Boys, Kenneth McKee says that "focusing on the future can lead to
procrastination, since, to young men, the future seems a long time away (2014). Surveys will
help the teacher select motivating material for the class while having students "create products,
presentations, or skits from their reading materials will connect with boys and their kinesthetic
learning styles.
I cannot stress enough how important the role of the teacher is in meeting this objective.
The teacher is the difference between revolutionary success and just another initiative that makes
no real change. Administrators must communicate this message to the teachers participating in
the objective to motivate and stimulate their interest in meeting the goals. These teachers are
working with a segment of the student body that underachieves not because of ability but
because of lack of motivation. They are a truly underserved population, so meeting this objective
simply seeks to serve this part of the student population with what they deserve in the first place.
Through professional development prior to the start of the school year, the team of
teachers and administrators involved in implementation of the plan will design a curriculum that
maximizes both instructional time and one-on-one interaction with students. It will be important
for teachers to create a weekly plan to provide these students will clear expectations and
consistency. The boys identified for the program need to see the class not as a silly exploratory
class but as a truly life-changing opportunity. That will require the teacher to sacrifice some time
at the beginning of the year to create a safe community. Truly maximizing instructional time
will begin and end with relationships and expectations which is why teacher and student buy-in
is so important.
The truth is, all schools have all the materials needed for the program in place already:
good teachers, underserved boys, and basic digital and traditional materials. The piece that

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needs to be maximized is the student learning through creative, inspired use of the instructional
time.

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Resources

Dickerson, J. & Coleman, H. (2013). Using blooms taxonomy to help guide technology
decision-making in schools. Teacher Education Journal of South Carolina. South
Carolina Association of Colleges for Teacher Education and The South Carolina
Association of Teacher Educators. Retrieved from http://scateonline.org/pdfs
/Journal.Final.2013.pdf
McKee, Kenneth. (2014). Four reading motivators for teenage boys. National Education
Association. Retrieved from http://www.nea.org/tools/61415.htm
Monrad, D., May, J., Distefano, C., Mindrila, D., Rawls, A., & Gay, J. (2007). Climate for high
achievement: a study of gap-closing schools in South Carolina. South Carolina
Educational Policy Center. Retrieved from http://www.ed.sc.edu/scepc/Documents/
Website%20Documents/SCEPC%20Final%20Gap%20Report%203-21-07.pdf
Willoughby, Jennipher. (2005) Differentiating instruction: meeting students where they are.
Teaching Today. Glencoe-McGraw Hill. Retrieved from http://www.glencoe.com/sec/
teachingtoday/subject/di_meeting.phtml