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Disengagement in the Middle Years

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Pauline Laskowski

on 8 November 2013

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Transcript of Disengagement in the Middle Years

Disengagement
Recommendations
Relevance to middle years
Reasons for
(cc) photo by Metro Centric on Flickr
There is no easy or standard definition of what constitutes disengagement.

Often disengagement is defined as poor attainment, or high levels of truancy. This fails to take into account the variation in student’s ability or those who continue to turn up at school but fail to engage with their education.

Research
Education Systems
Family and other demographic factors
Student’s motivations, attitudes and behaviour must be considered (Morris & Pullen, 2007).
The definition of “middle years” varies depending on the context, and often applies to early adolescence - generally students between the ages of 10 -15 and in years 5-9 (Chadbourne, 2001)

This presentation considers the middle years to be primarily years 8 and 9, with year 7 also included in P-12 schools.
The impact of simultaneous physical, emotional, intellectual and social factors on middle years' students creates needs and challenges that are significantly different from the needs of younger children or older adolescents.
(Education Queensland, 2003)
Success
Attend school 80% or less during sixth grade.
Fail maths in sixth grade.
Fail English in sixth grade.
Receive an unsatisfactory final behaviour mark in any subject in sixth grade.
(Balfanz, Herzog & Maciver, 2007)
for disengagement
Three Individual Approaches
Disengagement in the Middle Years
Pauline Laskowski
Q11206651

A Presentation for Educators
Factors include: process of detaching from school, disconnecting from its norms and expectations, reducing effort and involvement at school, and withdrawing from a commitment to school completion (Balfanz, Herzog & Douglas, 2007).
Disengagement can be active (a refusal to participate) or passive (a cognitive or emotional withdrawal). (Cooke & Barnes, n.d.).
Over two thirds of teachers reported disengaged behaviours on at least an ‘almost daily’ basis.
Low socio-economic schools reported significantly higher instances of low-level disruptive and disengaged behaviours.
Moving around the room unnecessarily and deliberately disrupting the flow of a lesson were the behaviours teachers reported addressing the most frequently.
Why is it a problem?
There is a well-established link between student engagement, student behaviour and academic achievement.

(Marzano & Marzano, 2003)
Educators identified disengaged behaviours as the most difficult to manage, especially avoiding doing schoolwork.
(Sullivan, Johnson, Conway, Owens & Taddeo, 2012)
53% of teachers indicated that students’ behaviour caused them stress.
Students could be graduating incapable of or unprepared for a productive and healthy life within the “Knowledge Society” in which they will live and lead (Gilbert, 2007).
Disengagement is disproportionately experienced by students living in poverty, youth with disabilities, and adolescents from minorities and aboriginal communities.
(Dunleavy & Milton, 2009)
Failing to complete school can mean increased likelihood of poor outcomes.
This student is...
More likely to live in poverty,
and more likely to be homeless.
more likely to take part in anti-social behaviour
more likely to be unemployed
more likely to abuse drugs and/or alcohol,
more likely to have poor health,
This is an Issue
That
Affects
Everyone
How do we solve this?
First, we need to know WHY they're dropping out...
In Australia, the entire nation’s social, cultural, and economic wellbeing is in jeopardy when so many of our young people either leave school early, or complete their schooling with a narrow and unsatisfying education.
Australian Curriculum Studies Association (1996)
(KPMG, 2009)
Recent data in the USA capturing the experience of 64,836 middle and secondary students over three years confirms early findings that a large majority of students begin to disengage from learning in Grade 6 and continue to do so until Grade 9, where levels remain consistently low through to Grade 12 (Willms, Friesen and Milton, 2009).

This disengagement negatively impacts their likelihood of eventually graduating from school.
Compared to their more affluent peers, Australian students from low socioeconomic backgrounds are more likely to under perform in literacy and numeracy, to have negative attitudes to school, to truant, to be suspended or expelled and to leave school early.
(Lamb & Mason, 2008)
has found the following reasons for disengagement:
(Morris & Pullen, 2007)
Teaching and learning strategies
Characteristics of the individual learner
Community and neighbourhood
What pupils are taught
The approaches used
How students are grouped
Students in less able groups run more risk of becoming disengaged.
Transition from primary school
Available curriculum on offer
Loss of friendships and an under-stimulating curriculum can trigger disengagement.
There is strong evidence that low income significantly predicts low educational performance.
Boys
Indigenous students
Those with reconstituted families
Student motivation
Relationship with peers
More likely to engage when lessons are fun, collaborative, active and relevant
Recent studies have shown that students are making the least progress in learning and the gap between low and high achievers increases markedly in the middle years.

Students experiencing difficulties in literacy and numeracy find the transition from primary to secondary schooling, and then into senior schooling, especially problematic.
(Education Queensland, 2003)
Intervention is essential
A multitude of “solutions”
There is strong agreement that the solution to disengagement lies in the redefinition of the learning experience along personalised or student centred lines.

(Centre for Applied Educational Research, 2002; Kannapel & Clements, 2005)
One of the significant findings of this research is that the academic and behavioural problems that are displayed by many students at the start of the middle years do not self-correct.

Therefore intervention is absolutely essential for the future success of these students.
Strong teacher student relationships and perceived teacher support
High expectations
Parental involvement
Relevance of subjects
Interest in subjects
(Balfanz & Byrnes, 2006)
Factors found to be predictive of academic achievement in the middle years include:
Schools that have a challenging curriculum that is connected to students’ lives and to their communities; that presents authentic tasks requiring complex thought with time for exploration; that caters for individual differences in interest and learning styles; that develops cooperation, communication, negotiation and social skills; and that emphasises depth of understanding are far more likely to ensure academic achievement.

(Centre for Applied Educational Research, 2002; Kannapel & Clements, 2005)
Key ways to tackle disengagement
Provide structures and procedures that deliver timetable flexibility and enable a strong bond to be developed between staff and students.
Provide classroom organisation and teaching and learning practices responsive to the diverse learning, social and emotional needs of young adolescents, including individualised learning opportunities.
Provide learning opportunities that support students to engage with adults from their community.
Provide opportunities for students to experience adult-like roles of leadership and responsibility.
Provide opportunities for students to participate in special events or programs that are of substantial interest and/or challenge to them.
Provide students with mentors, both inside and outside the school.
Active parental involvement.
Monitor attendance and behaviour to identify trends in disengagement.
Offer an alternative curriculum (including accreditation), for example, vocational courses.
Offer work-related learning, including work placements.
Set up short-term targeted support for students experiencing difficulties.

(Kendall & Kinder, 2005; Cole, 2006)
School C is an overseas school, catering to students from low socio-economic backgrounds.
School B is a rural, public high school with 450 students from low socio-economic backgrounds (ICSEA = 958)
School A is a regional, private P-12 school with 790 students from above average socio-economic backgrounds (ICSEA = 1096)
School A – dealing with disengagement
This school primarily takes a preventative approach.
Separate middle years classrooms create a school within a school environment.
Teacher tutors take students for pastoral care and also teach them two subjects to develop deeper student teacher relationships.
Students have home rooms and only move for specialist classes to foster a sense of belonging and respect for each other and their space – more like a traditional primary school environment.
School leaders are chosen from the year 9 cohort to encourage leadership development in this often difficult year.
If students make bad choices, they are acted upon immediately, with students often choosing the consequences and completing a reflection activity – the incident is then forgotten.

(E. Baff, personal communication, March 14, 2013)
School B
This school has developed an award winning alternative pathways program (GGAP) that targets boys within the school that have disengaged or are at risk of disengaging.
The program provides learning through practical contexts with essential literacy and numeracy skills embedded within these contexts.
The program offers individualised tailored subjects that eventually lead to the awarding of certificates, work placements, traineeships or apprenticeships.
Students focus on programs selected from the following:
Modified Mathematics - Numeracy requirements
Modified English – Literacy requirements
Employability skills {Cert 1 Work Education}
Rural Operations {Cert 1 Rural Operations}
Enterprise Learning – Hobbies and Craft
Computer and Information Basics {Cert 1 and 11}
Manufacturing, Construction, & Engineering {Cert 1 and 11}

(E. Gabbert, personal communication, March 15, 2013)
School B
The GGAP program works with community groups and local industries to develop training opportunities and workforce experience.

The maximum number of students in this program is 20 to allow for one on one support for the students.
School A
The school seeks to empower the middle years students by giving them choice – setting their own rules, having choice in assessment and undertaking inquiry based learning.
Respect and trust is developed by giving the students total control in organising school and social events, such as the middle school meander, musicals and plays.
A variety of pedagogical strategies are employed to engage and motivate students including:
The use of ICT, multimedia, interactive learning games, language pods.
Inquiry based learning to develop higher order thinking skills.
Co-operative learning to develop communication, collaboration and team building skills.
Authentic assessment tasks so students can see value in what they are doing.
Analysis - School A
The school reports that it has very few detentions, almost no suspensions and no reported cases of truancy for the last six years. Students are engaged and the school consistently reports OP scores well above the state average.

When considering the key ways to tackle disengagement, students are provided with:

Deeper teacher/student and student/student relationships through the school within a school structure and the teacher tutor concept.
Opportunities for leadership roles through the year 9 school leaders program, which the school believes has been instrumental in significantly reducing misbehaviour and disengagement at this year level.
Opportunities to participate in and organise special events, like the middle school meander to which parents, families and the wider community are invited. The organisation of this event is done entirely by the middle school students, and gives students the opportunity to learn organisational skills and demonstrate their project work.
Challenging curriculum, choice and authentic tasks.
Analysis - School B
The GGAP program has proven to be extremely successful, with all students engaged and showing vast improvement in their social/emotional well being, attendance, behaviour and academic performance.

Less behavioural issues in “regular” classes have improved outcomes in teaching and learning due to the removal of high maintenance students.

89% of GGAP students are at sound level or above for English; 69% are at sound or above in maths. Attendance has improved by 90%, along with a 98% improvement in behaviour.

When considering the key ways to tackle disengagement, students are provided with:

Timetable flexibility, differentiated learning, and smaller classes enabling strong bonds between staff and students.
Opportunities to engage with adults in the community and experience adult like roles through work experience and mentoring.
Opportunities to participate in programs that are interesting and challenging - work-related learning. The school has developed significant partnerships with local businesses, services and industries to provide students with a range of interesting, practical workplace experiences.
Provision of outside school mentors allow students to communicate with and learn from adults outside their immediate school environment.
Short term targeted support - the ultimate aim of this program is to find apprenticeships/traineeships for the students or manage their successful reintegration into the classroom.
Analysis - School C
Attendance – 94%
Graduation – 95%
College participation – 75%
English proficiency 76.1 (state target 68.8)
Maths proficiency 56.5 (state target 54)

When considering the key ways to tackle disengagement, students are provided with:

Timetable flexibility and individualised learning plans - allowing for students to develop skills at their own pace and ensuring differentiated curriculum that meets their needs.
Opportunity to develop strong bonds with teachers - the relationship with their advisor/teacher persists throughout their entire time at the school.
Opportunities to engage with adults in their community through internships.
Opportunities to experience adult-like roles of leadership and responsibility - real life projects, that benefit both the student and the mentor, are undertaken through the internship program.
Mentors – both outside school and within. Advisors and workplace supervisors act as mentors for the students.
Work related learning, authentic tasks, curriculum connected to the community, developing communication skills and social competencies.
References
Kannapel, P. J., & Clements, S. K. (2005). Inside the black box of high-performing high-poverty schools: A report from the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence. Lexington, KY: Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence. Retrieved from: http://www.prichardcommittee.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Inside-the-Black-Box.pdf

Kendall, S. & Kinder, K. (2005). Reclaiming Those Disengaged from Education and Learning: a European Perspective. Slough: NFER.

KPMG (2009). Re-engaging our kids. A framework for education provision to children and young people at risk of disengaging or disengaged from school. Melb, VIC: Department of Education Retrieved from: http://www.eduweb.vic.gov.au/edulibrary/public/stuman/wellbeing/Re-engaging_Our_Kids_KPMG_Apr2010.pdf

Lamb, S. & Mason, K. (2008). How young people are faring ’08. Melbourne, VIC: The Federation for Young Australians. Retrieved from: http://www.fya.org.au/downloads/FYA_HYPAFReport_ONLINE_68pp.pdf

Littky, D. & Grabelle, S. (2004). Big picture: education is everyone's business. Alexandria, VA, USA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Content.

Marzano, R., & Marzano, J. S. (2003). The key to classroom management. Educational Leadership, 61(1), 6-13. Retrieved from: http://web.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.usq.edu.au/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=487b0d8b-8fd8-43fb-a6e7-94a359bf3dab%40sessionmgr13&vid=4&hid=19

Morris, M. & Pullen, C. (2007). Disengagement and Re-engagement of Young People in Learning at Key Stage 3. Totnes: Research in Practice. Retrieved from: http://www.tandfonline.com.ezproxy.usq.edu.au/loi/rere20?open=49&repitition=0#vol_49

Sullivan, A., Johnson, B., Conway, R., Owens, L. & Taddeo, C. (2012). Punish Them or Engage Them. Behaviour at School Study: Technical Report 1. Adelaide, SA: University of South Australia. Retrieved from: http://www.bass.edu.au/

Willms, J., Friesen, S. & Milton, P. (2009). What did you do in school today? Toronto, ON: Canadian Education Association. Retrieved from: http://www.ccl-cca.ca/pdfs/otherreports/WDYDIST_National_Report_EN.pdf
Analysis
disengagement
Warning signs
have been identified
School C – Educating one student at a time
The Met is one of the Big Picture group of schools in Providence, a low socio-economic area in Rhode Island, USA.
The Met students have typically disengaged from other school settings.
The school has three fundamental principles:
Learning must be based on the interests and goals of each student.
Each student’s curriculum must be relevant to people and places that exist in the real world.
A student’s abilities must be authentically measured by the quality of their work.

http://www.bigpicture.org/
School C – 10 key distinguishers
1. Learning in the real world – LTI – learning through internships/interest.
Students learn by doing an authentic project that benefits both the student and their mentor.
They learn to be adults through working with adults and gain valuable real world experience.
2. One student at a time.
Personalised learning plans are developed quarterly with input from the student, their advisor and parents.
3. Authentic assessment.
By public exhibition, meetings with advisors and mentors, weekly journals and portfolios.
4. School structure.
Campuses are kept small with each having around 150 students.
This ensures that strong relationships are built.
School C – 10 key distinguishers
5. Advisory structure.
15 students per advisor.
The advisor stays with students for their entire time at the school.
The advisor builds relationships with the student and their family, manages the individual learning plans, makes home visits and supervises work placement.
6. School culture.
Respectful, diverse, creative, exciting and reflective.
7. Leadership.
8. Parent/family engagement.
Parents are involved in the development of the individual learning plan, have regular contact with the advisor and are able to see the results through the public presentation of their child's work.
9. School/college partnerships.
Assist students with application process and have on-going transition support.
10. Professional development.
Best practice shared through online facilities, retreats and conferences.
References
Analysis of implications for learning and teaching
The three schools used a variety of approaches to tackle disengagement from preventative strategies through to alternative program placements. While there is no “one size fits all” approach, the following should be considered for improved teaching and learning outcomes:

Need to employ a variety of pedagogical strategies to engage students:
ICT and multimedia
Inquiry based learning
Co-operative learning
Authentic assessment
Engage and communicate with parents.
Build strong relationships with students.
Consider whether classroom structure is responsive to the social and emotional needs of young adolescents.
Ensure curriculum is challenging and differentiated.
Give consideration to individualised learning plans, work-related learning and short term targeted support for disengaged students.
Monitor behavioural and attendance "early warning" signals.
For our school, the following recommendations are made:

Establish a separate middle school environment to ensure the social and emotional needs of the students are met.

Transition to teacher tutor model where students have form class and two subjects with one teacher to foster development of strong relationships.
Foster stronger ties with parents and carers.

Ensure curriculum is challenging and differentiated.

Provide students with choice in tasks, through authentic inquiry based learning, solving real world problems, and assessment.

Communicate high expectations to all students.

Develop a work-related learning program.
Develop a monitoring and reporting system to identify attendance and behavioural issues that could signal disengagement.

Develop an alternative program (similar to GAPP) for disengaged students.
Australian Curriculum Studies Association. (1996). Policy on Social Justice, Curriculum and Pedagogy. Curriculum Perspectives 15(4).

Balfanz, R. & Byrnes, V. (2006). Closing the Mathematics Achievement Gap in High-Poverty Middle Schools: Enablers and Constraints [Electronic version]. Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk (JESPAR), 11(2), 143-159. Retrieved from http://www.tandfonline.com.ezproxy.usq.edu.au/doi/abs/10.1207/s15327671espr1102_2

Balfanz, R., Herzog, L. & Maciver, D. (2007). Preventing Student Disengagement and Keeping Students on the Graduation Path in Urban Middle-Grades Schools: Early Identification and Effective Interventions [Electronic version]. Educational Psychologist, 42(4), 191-273. Retrieved from http://www.tandfonline.com.ezproxy.usq.edu.au/toc/hedp20/42/4

Centre for Applied Educational Research. (2002). Middle Years Research and Development (MYRAD) Project Executive Summary FebruaryDecember 2001. A Report to the Learning & Teaching Innovation Division, Department of Education & Training. Melbourne: The University of Melbourne

Chadbourne, R. (2001). MIDDLE SCHOOLING FOR THE MIDDLE YEARS What might the jury be considering? Southbank, VIC: Australian Education Union

Cole, P. (2006). Reforming Year 9: Propositions for School Policy and Practice (Occasional Paper # 96). Melbourne: Centre for Strategic Education

Cooke, E. & Barnes, T. (n.d.) On the path to success: Promoting engagement in learning at Key Stage 3. Retrieved from: http://www.rip.org.uk/engagement/resources/on_the_path_to_success.pdf

Dunleavy, J. & Milton, P. (2009). What did you do in school today? Exploring the concept of Student Engagement and its implications for Teaching and Learning in Canada. Toronto: Canadian Education Association. Retrieved from http://www.cea-ace.ca/publication/what-did-you-do-school-today-exploring-concept-student-engagement-and-its-implications-t

Education Queensland. (2003). The Middle Phase of Learning – State School Action Plan. Retrieved from http://education.qld.gov.au/etrf/pdf/midaction03.pdf

Gilbert, J. (2007). Catching the Knowledge Wave: Redefining knowledge for the postindustrial age. Toronto: Canadian Education Association. Retrieved from: http://www.cea-ace.ca
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