Updated: Aug 11, 2020
By Jon Mitchem
Boulder Ridge Elementary
Romoland School District
One of the major #eduwins that took place last year at my school was my staff coming together for a common purpose; student growth and learning. At the start of the school year, we had t-shirts made that said, “every bulldog matters,” with a picture of a big bulldog holding a little bulldog (our mascot is the bulldog). The back of the shirt read, "today, not tomorrow.” The belief that each student's growth was imperative and that we couldn't wait to help them grow is what drove our teachers this year. The ideas that “every bulldog matters,” and “today, not tomorrow” became guiding principles in all decisions that were made as a school. Our school grew as a community because of this common goal. We knew that if we put the needs of ALL students at the forefront of all we did as a staff, we would see growth. The staff worked hard with all students to set goals in both math and ELA. Students set goals in iReady and CAASPP.
Our teachers changed their mindsets from teaching to learning. Our staff met in PLC meetings to discuss teaching practices that were effective vs. ineffective, they created RtI groups and worked to personalize instruction for ALL students through the use of small group instruction. As a leader, I continued to share that GROWTH was the goal. Growth is what we wanted, and growth is what we kept our eye on. Yes, it would be amazing to have every student at grade level, but if there are 5th graders reading at a 1st grade level, focusing on 5th grade proficiency is going to be counterproductive. Instead, our teachers got to know their students, found out where they were academically, set goals, and then provided guidance, feedback, and support to those students with the focus on growth! Each classroom chose 5 “focus students,” and these 5 students would have the extra goal of growing 1.5 years academically via iReady. These were students who were performing 2 or more grade levels below. Teachers utilized quality first best instruction, interventions, and enrichment, as well as after-school support and enrichment programs to help these students meet their goals!
As the school year came to an end, we gave our end of the year assessments. Out of the 120 “focus students,” 79% made at least 1 year of growth, and 60% made 1.5 years of growth. More importantly, as a school, our students GREW from 57% of students making 1 year of growth in ELA the 2016/17 school year, to 73% of students making 1 year of growth in the 2017/18 school year—that is a 16% growth in ELA! In math, we GREW from 61% of students making 1 year of growth to 71% of students making 1 year of growth! Our SBAC data is no different with an increase of 10% meeting or exceeding standards in both ELA and Math, and scale score gains of 25 points in both ELA and Math.
The success of our students was truly a team effort. Every adult at Boulder Ridge took the motto, “Every Bulldog Matters” to heart, and truly went above and beyond to meet the needs of ALL our students. A focus on growth, goal setting, and believing in the potential of our students is what led to our success!
I am proud of how ALL students at my school were supported and grew. Gone are the days of bubble students, and a focus on teaching. At BRES we know that the growth of each and every student is what makes us a successful school and we must focus on student learning in order to do just that!