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Improving Academic Achievement: A plan to challenge and provide academic rigor for Baltimore Lab Students

To provide stakeholders rationale and plan to include more rigor and challenge in the academic program at Baltimore Lab School
by

Erica Skoczylas

on 13 December 2010

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Transcript of Improving Academic Achievement: A plan to challenge and provide academic rigor for Baltimore Lab Students

What is Academic Rigor? "Academic rigor is a process by which faculty use various pedagogical techniques to challenge continuously a student beyond his or her self-expectations" ("Academic Excellence and Rigor," 2006). Does Baltimore Lab School provide a rigorous program for their students? ????? There is a growing concern amongst parents and post-grads that the education they received at Lab has not prepared them for college. This phenomenon is not only voiced by our graduates. Research suggests that students with learning disablities face a far more difficult time maintaining and graduating from post-secondary schools. Why do students feel this way? GRADES, CLASS EXPECTATIONS & SELF-ADVOCACY SKILLS Grade Inflation I recently examined 11th grade Baltimore Lab High School 2010 first quarter Math and English grades. There are currently 18 students enrolled in the 11th grade. Of these students: 8 students in English and 6 students in Math received A’s, 7 students in English and 7 students in Math received B’s, students 2 students in English and 5 students in Math received C’s, one student received a D in English and 0 students earned F. Is this a true measure of student ability? Does this reflect student surpassing state standards? Class Expectations Are students being held to the same standards as their general education counter-parts? Are we providing appropriate accomodations? Are we mistaking accomodations for lowers standards? Self-Advocacy? "The development of specific skills and understandings that enable children and adults to explain their specific learning disabilities to others and cope positively with the attitudes of peers, parents, teachers, and employers ("Mondofacto," 2009).
How are we as a school helping our students develop these skills? Why at Baltimore Lab School should we address these issues? Because we are legally obligated to:
According to the Common Core State Standards that will be adapted by all states, all students will be held to high academic grade level standards in English and Math. Integrity:
As an istitution we are morally obligated to properly prepare our students to be successful when they leave our school Because it is the right thing to do!!!!! "Under Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) students must be challenged to excel within the general curriculum and be prepared for success in their post-school lives, including college and/or careers. In order for students with disabilities to meet high academic standards and to fully demonstrate their
conceptual and procedural knowledge and skills in mathematics, reading, writing, speaking and listening
(English language arts), their instruction must incorporate supports and accommodations” (“Common Core State Standard Initiative,” 2010).
How do we address this as a school? STAFF DEVELOPMENT Who? When? Where? How? The proposal Academic Rigor must be attacked multi-laterally All stakeholders to be divided into different committees
•Grading Policy and Assessment
•Differentiated Instruction and Accommodation
•IEP (How to read, create objectives, and track progress)
•Self-Advocacy
These committee's will meet regularly. They will be responsible for.....
Developing a mission statement Providing regular staff development during faculty meetings to help implement these changes Posting all information on the public drive Revisit and track progress quarterly What are the implications of this plan and How will this affect stakeholders? Staff collaboration will allow us to build better working relationship Opportunities to learn exciting strategies to accommodate and differentiate instruction Opportunities to examine academic standards and assess student learning Opportunities to improve grading policies and measure student performance Higher student achievement Opportunities for student to use higher levels of thinking and access content Better prepared to face post-secondary placements Parent satisfaction Increase in enrollment and retention An institution that holds themselves to a higher standard than the rest! Before we are able to look at this issue we need to look at this in context……. Prior to 1975 and the passage of Education for All Handicapped Children Act (now known as IDEA), students with disabilities had little to no legal rights to a formal education. This was the beginning of the creation of Special Education in this nation. Since then there has been progress and change made in our belief system and our approach towards education.
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Amendments of 1997 (IDEA) requiring that specific performance goals be created for students with disabilities
Access to general education extent possible And more recently focusing on quality and advancement into post-secondary schools and placement
With that said….. In conclusion.....

it is my professional opinion that this plan addresses a need at the Baltimore Lab School. As educators it is our moral and ethical duty to provide our children with a high quality education. That our students have access to state curriculum in a manner that meets learning needs. That we have prepared our students to be productive member of society. Our school has a plan for professional development for teachers. Administrators expect teachers to provide high quality instruction. The proposed plan addresses rigor and challenge directly aligned with our school's initiative for preparing our students for the twenty-first century. References:


Vohs, J., Landau, J, & Romano, C. (1999) Raising Standards of Learning
Students with Disabilities and Standards-Based Education Reform (Electronic version).Federation for Children with Special Needs. Retrieved December 8, 2010 from http://www.fcsn.org/peer/ess/standardsib.html
Self-advocacy definition. (14 Jan 2009). Mondofacto. Retrieved December 7, 2010 http://www.mondofacto.com/facts/dictionary?self-advocacy Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. (2010). Council for Learning Disabilities. Retrieved December 7, 2010, from http://www.cldinternational.org/Legislation/HEA.asp Golden, D., Hechinger, J. ((2007, August 21). When special education goes too easy on students. The Wall Street Journal Report. Received November 28, 2010 from http://online.wsj.com/article/SB118763976794303235.html
Diament, M. (2010, June 2). High Expectations Set For Special Education Under National Academic Standards. Disability Scoop. Retrieved November 28, 2010 http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2010/06/02/final-national-standards/8871/ Academic Excellence and Rigor. 2006. Retrieved December 8,2010, from
http://www.skidmore.edu/academics/CEPP/documents/AcademicExcellenceandRigorstatement.doc.
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