An Evaluation of Freshman students that failed Global Perspectives at Tualatin High School in 2011 Kevin T. McManamon EDTECH 505-4172 Dr. Ross Perkins Boise State University July 26, 2011
Table of ContentsLearning Reflection............................................................. 3Executive Summary.............................................................4Purpose of the Evaluation....................................................5Background Information.......................................................6Description of Evaluation Design.........................................8Results & Discussions.......................................................12Conclusions & Recommendations.....................................19Appendices..........................................................................21
Learning Reflection Evaluation is inescapable. We surround ourselves in a world that measures, weighs,compares, estimates, appraises, criticizes, rates and forms decisions based on some criteria. Itallows us to process and learn from feedback. That feedback (formative) can then be used toimprove the quality of a program or process while it is occurring. It can also provide numerousmeasurements (summative) after a process has been completed compared to preselectedcriteria. Evaluation makes possible the assessment of the efficiency, effectiveness and/orimpact of a program. Decisions regarding future funding, processes, goals, outcomes, theclients that are served, methodologies, and rationale for a program all stem from informationgleaned from evaluations. Evaluations are capable of providing all of this information that would be useful inmaking an informed decision. However, caution must be exercised when creating an evaluation.The development of how the problem is framed is crucial to what information an evaluationultimately delivers to it’s intended audience. A poorly framed problem to be evaluated will leavethe audience no closer to making an informed judgement than prior to the study being carriedout. In fact, it could severely mislead them and cause greater confusion about the reality of theprogram in question. It is my professional desire to apply what I have learned in this course and also to makeuse of this evaluation and its findings for the improvement of the student experience in GlobalPerspectives in the long range. I intend to continue to collect data relative to this class, inquireinto the reasons behind student failure rates, and access other sources of data not available tome during the time in which this evaluation was conducted so as to lessen the failure rateamong freshman who take this class in the future. As an educational technologist, I must be constantly aware of personal biases I mayhave when designing instruction for the classroom. School districts are continually acquiringnew technologies for class room use. Technology acquisition on a grand scale comes withincredible promise and potential for exciting and meaningful student outcomes. Infused intothese potentially positive and well-intentioned expectations are biases, both for and against,technology itself. I must apply the skills and insights gained in this class to effectively designinstruction that includes elements of technology for undeniable and valid reasons. Effective useof the methods of evaluation will guide my instructional design to include formative andsummative feedback, valid and reliable data collection tools and assessments, the proper use ofsampling methods and rubrics that appropriately measure either the content, construct orcriteria of student outcomes utilizing the technology made available to them.
Executive Summary This evaluation was conducted in order to determine the causes of student failure in afreshman level course at Tualatin High School. Global Perspectives is a required class of allfreshman students at Tualatin High School. It has been taught exclusively by the Social Studiesdepartment since 2009. It is designed to fulfill certain state requirements (career explorationand planning along with future academic planning for both high school and beyond) as well asprovide a successful and smooth transition to the expectations of high school and embed coreresearch skills students will apply in future Social Studies classes. Tualatin High School administrators and teachers valued the importance of a smoothand successful transition from middle school to high school by supporting the creation anddevelopment of the Global Perspective curriculum to achieve those ambitions. As such, failureto pass this class by any freshman student greatly jeopardized future academic success.Determining the causes of student failure could help reduce this prospect. This evaluationinvestigated the causes of student failures in Global Perspectives in the 2010-2011 school year.This was carried out in order to help teachers understand the reasons behind such outcomesand provide them future guidance so as to avoid similar outcomes. The evaluation collected qualitative feedback from teachers involved in the GlobalPerspectives class, other members of the Social Studies department, and other teachers andadministrators at Tualatin High school after the conclusion of the 2010-2011 school year.Interviews were conducted in late June and early July 2011. Additionally, data was collected onfreshman grades (including Global Perspectives as well as the core classes of English/Language Arts, Science and Math) from 2010-2011, attendance information, and state testscores from their 8th grade year. The interviews strongly link student success in this class with attendance. The higherthe number of absences, the more likely a student was to fail. Teachers responded thatattendance was the biggest factor behind student failure. This was corroborated by theevaluation of attendance data in that it showed a direct relationship between decliningattendance percentages and declining grades in Global Perspectives. Another finding of thedata was a high percentage of failures among Hispanic students, which could be attributed tothose students not making a personal connection with the class content. Teacher interviewsstressed this component of the class (making a personal connection to the content) as beingsecondarily important for student academic success. Purpose of the Evaluation
This evaluation was conducted to determine the reasons students at Tualatin HighSchool failed a required freshman class, Global Perspectives.What was the purpose of doing this particular evaluation? The purpose of this evaluation was to determine the causes of student failures in GlobalPerspectives. It is a required course and as such, teachers assigned to teach it, as well as theschool administration, agreed that the goal of the class was to promote a successful transitionfrom middle school to high school. It is hoped that this will build a strong foundation uponwhich future high school academic successes would be built by the students who successfullycompleted the Global Perspectives course.What were the central questions to be answered through the evaluation? The central questions to be answered by this evaluation are what are causes a studentto fail Global Perspectives? What is the profile of the student that fails Global Perspectives?What correlative data can be systematically assembled to provide future teachers of this coursewith a profile of students at risk of failing this class? Additionally, by interviewing the teachers ofthis class, an attempt will be made to determine what the coordinated teaching team was doingwell as far as getting students to succeed academically in Global Perspectives.Who would be most impacted by the results of the evaluation? Several groups will be most impacted by the results of this evaluation. The first groupwill be the instructors assigned to teach Global Perspectives in the immediate future. They willbe provided with qualitative feedback from teachers who have experienced teaching the classand the beneficiaries of what their professional assessments are of the reasons behind studentsfailing the course. Secondarily, the students enrolled in the class in the coming semesters willbe impacted by this evaluation. They will be instructed by teachers who will be made aware ofthe reasons behind student failures. By those teachers having gained insight into the causesof failures in Global Perspectives, the indicators of possible failures will not go unnoticed andhopefully be directed toward remediation. Teachers of other freshman classes will be givensimilar awareness, through the efforts of the Global Perspectives teaching team, of what maybe the factors that lead to failure in their respective classes. Counselors of freshman students,parents and school administrators will all be made aware of the correlative links of at riskstudents in their freshman year of high school as well.
Background Information Tualatin High School is one of two high schools in the Tigard-Tualatin SchoolDistrict. The district also has an alternative high school completion facility, three middle schools,ten elementary schools, and cooperating agreement with a K-8 charter school. The school wasopened in 1992 and is situated on a 64 acre campus in Tualatin, OR.The school operates onan alternating block schedule of 90 minute classes of four blocks that meet every other day.Students take eight classes each semester. Tualatin High School had approximately 1,825 students, over 80 staff members andover 50 support staff for the 2010-2011 school year. The graduation rate has held steady atover 97% for the past decade. The district provides all students the opportunity to take the ACTtest free of charge and the school routinely scores just above the national average of a 21. Thefour year college attendance rate was 52% for the 2010 school year, with a community collegeattendance rate adding another 26% for the same year. The student body composition for the 2010-2011 school year was as follows: White74.3%, Latino 14.9%, Asian 6.6%, African American 2.4% and Native American .7%. Studentsidentified as Talented and Gifted (TAG) was 21.76%, students with 504 plans 1.9%, SpecialEducation 7.2%, Limited English Proficient (LEP) 3.54%, Free and Reduced lunch 31% andEconomically Disadvantaged 22.63%.What was the origin of the program? The Global Perspectives class was known as “Freshman Focus” up until the 2009-2010school year when the decision was made to adopt a name change to more adequately reflectthe class content. The class was incorporated, mostly wholesale, from another area high schoolwith an eye toward providing freshman with a class specifically geared to the needs of thestudent transitioning from middle school to high school.What are the standards and/or goals of the program? A number of goals evolved for this program over the years it has been taught at TualatinHigh School. These were very specifically geared to the needs of freshman students. Some ofthese address state mandated instruction and experiences, others are academic skills chosenby staff members that would benefit the students in their remaining years at Tualatin HighSchool and provide a framework for post high school planning for the students as well.These are as follows: ● A transition from middle school expectation to high school expectations. ● Understanding graduation requirements. ● Knowing how to access school-wide support systems. ● Providing guidance to will enrich their high school experiences academically, socially and personally. ● Career information and exposure to resources to plan an educational path that aligns with chosen career goals. Sub goals include- conducting a career self-interest survey, career exploration, create a resume, and participate in a mock job interview.
● Ensure “technological literacy” through exposure to and continued use of current technologies provided by the school district. ● Support school-wide attempts at developing academic literacy through the use of non- fiction reading (primarily textbook reading skills). ● Provide a foundation in the correct methods of conducting a high school research project (identifying and selecting credible sources, using a database for source selection, proper note taking skills, documenting of sources, presentation of learning in papers, speeches and electronic presentations).What did previous programs look like? Previous incarnations of the class were scattered across many departments in theschool. No coordinated school-wide planning was undertaken. Unfortunately, some sectionsof the class were assigned so as to fill holes in the teaching schedules of some staff membersto bring them up to a full FTE. The experiences of students varied from teacher to teacher.Some staff members embraced the class and sought to make it a meaningful and engagingexperience while others put minimal effort into planning for class activities. Uniformity ofexpectations, student expectations and end products suffered as a result from the disjointedapproach the class. Sometimes staff members focused solely on technology instruction, othersjust career information and others still on whatever they were most comfortable teaching giventheir instructional experiences and backgrounds. The unfortunate byproduct of this was anegative view of the class by students, staff and parents at the school that effectively drownedout the few positive and engaging student experience in classes taught by highly motivatedinstructors. The decision was made to put the class solely in the Social Studies department startingin the 2009-2010 school year. Four Social Studies department members volunteered to teachthe class (myself included) so as to make Global Perspectives an enriching experience thatprepared the students for their futures both at Tualatin High School and beyond. We adopted amentality that sought to improve the perceived and actual usefulness of the Global Perspectivesprogram in the eyes of the stakeholders involved (students, parents, staff members,administration, and community members). The Global Perspectives teaching team choseto narrow the curricular scope of the class to include the previously mentioned “career unit”along with using historical and current event studies as a basis for teaching accepted researchmethods.Who are the people involved in the program? The staff members who were involved in teaching the Global Perspectives coursestarting in 2009 were Mr. Chris Lieuallen, Mrs. Sarah Lundy, Ms. Vanessa Tharp and myself.The school’s principal, associate principal for instruction and Social Studies departmentcoordinators were all very supportive and involved in the development of the redesignedcurriculum of the Global Perspectives course. The school’s counseling department and career
to work coordinator were also involved in the program, particularly in their outside effortswith the local business community. They supported the program by arranging local businessvolunteers for the mock job interview activity, which was the capstone activity of the career unitfor the students in Global Perspectives.What are the characteristics of the program? Describe in detail. Global Perspectives was incorporated fully under the domain of the Social Studiesdepartment starting with the 2009-2010 school year. Only four Social Studies teachers wereassigned to teach the course, which allowed for close collaboration and unified lesson plans. Allof these teachers volunteered to teach this class and it comprised a majority of their teachingassignments. Close collaboration was carried out informally on an almost daily basis betweenall four staff members in the Global Perspectives team. Communication in person or via emailamong the team was a constant activity since 2009. Formal collaboration among the GlobalPerspectives teaching team took place one a month in a common prep period set aside forcurricular development. The Global Perspectives course was designed to adhere to the following unit sequence: ● Transition from middle school to high school. High school graduation requirements. ● A career explorations unit. ● Exploring the historical roots of inequality and monitor global current events within the context of modern history. ● Use the following Social Studies units to introduce research methodologies while exploring the current events of each region: ○ The interconnected world of the Globalized economy. ○ Modern China. ○ The “new” Middle East. ○ Modern India and its comparative advantage through information technology. ○ Sub-Sarahan Africa. ○ Latin America and the Caribbean. ● Conduct a research project of their choosing and report to the class. Description of Evaluation Design The evaluation model chosen for this project was based upon the Goal-Free model.This model was chosen for two reasons: A. The Global Perspectives course is not specifically aligned with state education benchmarks per se; the career unit, academic planning, writing samples, speech samples, and technological training are all state expectations but are not required to be
demonstrated in any one particular course. Since no specific state mandated criteria were available to evaluate in comparison to, this model seemed appropriate tool to evaluate the problem. B. Multiple factors regarding the Global Perspectives course needed to be accounted for and therefore fit best under the umbrella of a goal free model for evaluation. The class was designed to be, and has evolved to become, a class centered around “academic success” for freshman students. Academic success, as measured by our current system of school wide evaluation (“grades”) can only be uniformly assessed as getting a final grade of D (60%) or higher. Each of the four instructors at Tualatin High School, as previously indicated closely collaborative in their planning efforts, yet they still maintained a level of academic and curricular independence by individualized their instruction. The experiences were very similar but not identical as different materials were used to teach the same units, accordingly points of emphasis varied slightly from teacher to teacher. Some instructors developed units collaboratively, others were created independently of the planning team. One staff member required a long term substitute teacher for maternity leave in which modifications were made during that time period in which she was out. Two other staff members had student teachers during this time frame. They modified their curriculum slightly to adapt to the needs of their respective student teachers who were in different university systems and at different stages of their respective teacher training programs. One student teacher was required to teach for several weeks, the other was only required to observe and teach a few lessons they created with minimal guidance from their master teacher. Therefore, the only standardized measure of passing or failing was the final grade received by each student in their respective Global Perspectives class. The goal free model seeks to evaluate what the actual effects of a program are. Themodel allows the evaluator to be freed from a strict set standards or measurements, set downprior to conducting the program. This does not restrict the determination of how the targetedaudience is being effected. The observer is allowed to collect and record any and all datarelative to the population being served and determine the importance of each. As statedpreviously, the Global Perspectives course is not specifically aligned with state of Oregoneducation benchmarks, as such the goal free model is an apt tool to apply in this case. Sources of data Two sources of data were selected to determine the reasons behind student failuresin this class. One was a detailed interview with all available Global Perspectives teachersyielding qualitative data, the other was a comprehensive report of final grades of the entire 2011freshman class yielding quantitative data. Included in the grade data were the following: ● Final grade in Global Perspectives. ● Final grade in Mathematics. ● Final grade in English/Language Arts.
● Final grade in Science. ● Cumulative grade point average. ● Racial designation. ● Special education status. ● 504 status. ● Limited English Proficiency status. ● Attendance percentage. ● 8th grade state reading test score from 2010. ● 8th grade state writing test score from 2010. ● 8th grade state mathematics test score from 2010. A potentially problematic issue of my own personal bias, as I am directly involved withthis class, was addressed prior to any data being gathered (both the qualitative feedback fromthe teachers of the course and the freshman grade report). Efforts were made to minimize thepotential of my own bias impacting the structure of the evaluation prior to its construction. Dueto the fact that I am one of four staff members assigned to teach this class and have been veryheavily involved in the development of the curriculum, the potential for my own predeterminedjudgements as to what may cause students to fail was great. After being counseled by Dr.Perkins, I was able to identify a problem and structure a set of evaluation objectives that didnot reflect my own personal rush to judgement. Before conducting the interviews with the otherteachers of Global Perspectives, several steps were taken to reduce my own personal biases.They were as follows: ● Before interviews questions were created or finalized, the grade report data was compiled by our school’s associate Principal. ● Several staff members and school administrators were solicited for suggested questions to ask of the Global Perspectives teaching team and areas of personal bias I should be wary to avoid. ● Once a preliminary draft of interview questions was created, they were submitted back to the same staff members and administrators for final approval. ● The finalized questions were then asked of the Global Perspectives teaching team, the approved script of questions were asked without deviation and in the same order. ● A synthesized summary of their answers was compiled by myself and returned to the interview subjects for their approval, corrections or edits. ● As my experiences were to be included in the teacher interviews, I was asked the questions by a non-educator, neutral third party who recorded and synthesized my answers. This was done after the Global Perspectives teaching team interviews were conducted by myself. The data collection took place in late June and early July of 2011. The school year hadbeen concluded by this time, therefor direct surveys of students was not possible. Additionally,one member of the Global Perspectives teaching team was traveling outside the country andwas not available for the interviews. The sequence listed above was followed to minimizepersonal biases and should be viewed as a progressive order of events of this evaluation.
Finalized Evaluators Plan DescriptionProgram: Global Focus: SummativePerspectivescourse for highschool freshman.Evaluation Program Objective/ Activities to Data SourceQuestions Goals ObserveWhy are 9th grade To ensure that 9th Grades of 9th grade Grade reports &students failing the graders pass Global students enrolled in attendanceGlobal Perspectives Perspectives. Global Perspectives.course?What are the causes Identify the Grades of 9th grade Qualitative data fromof 9th graders failing characteristics of students enrolled in teacher surveys andGlobal Perspectives? students who fail Global Perspectives. follow up interview; Global Perspectives Survey responses. grade reports, 8th in 2011. grade state test results & 9th grade attendance data.What are actions Explore possible Survey responses. Survey responsestaken by teachers steps teachers can and follow upthat can diminish the take to mitigate 9th interviews.failure rate among grade failures in9th graders in Global Global Perspectives.Perspectives?Population/Sample Design Data Analysis AudienceGlobal Perspectives Grades from 2nd Descriptive analysis. The Globalteaching team; 2010- semester for Global Perspectives2011 freshman class Perspectives, Math, teaching team andenrolled in Global English and Science. other freshmanPerspectives. teachers.Global Perspectives Grades from 2nd Descriptive analysis. The Global
teaching team; 2010- semester for Global Perspectives 2011 freshman class Perspectives, Math, teaching team and enrolled in Global English and Science. other freshman Perspectives. teachers. Staff members & Survey of staff Descriptive analysis. The Global school administrators. members using Perspectives personal interviews. teaching team and other freshman teachers. Results & Discussions The results of this evaluation will be presented as a synthesis of the qualitative feedbackfrom the Global Perspective teaching team and of the quantitative data of the 2011 freshmangrade results.Feedback from Global Perspectives teaching team: The consensus among the teachers interviewed was that overall, freshman students atTualatin High School are motivated, eager to participate, and very adept at understanding thebasics of “how to pass” a class. One teacher characterized freshman as existing along acontinuum, with varying levels of academic skills and or outside support that correlate tocomparable successes in their first year of high school. Another teacher voiced concern thatmany students are not interested in deeper learning, that accumulating points in order to pass aclass was the prime motivator of their academic lives. But by and large, they agreed that mostfreshman students have relatively good attendance patterns and that they have a desire tocomplete the work assigned to them to meet the expectations established by their teachers. Ingeneral, the teachers interviewed felt that while not all freshman students are ready for theadjustments required of them in high school at the beginning of the school year, the vastmajority will be capable of passing all of their classes in their freshman year well before it isfeasible to do so. The teachers indicated that the Global Perspectives course is predicated upon providinga gentle introduction to the demands of high school. They agreed that the course curriculum iswell suited to fostering a longer view of what they may be interested in future schooling or acareer and finally providing basic training in the skills needed to conduct research projects infuture high school courses. Of the students who have completed the Global Perspectives course, all teachersindicated that at a minimum they should be adept at locating an electronic database containingcredible articles useful for researching most any high school topic. They should be able todiscern if their chosen articles are applicable to their assigned task, to cite it properly, take notesfrom it and generate some type of report (either oral, multimedia or written) in which theydemonstrate subject mastery of the content. If students are unable to perform these tasks, in in
the judgement of the teachers interviewed, they stood very little chance of receiving a passinggrade in Global Perspectives. In the opinion of the teachers of the class, students who are successful usually havehigh attendance rates. They unanimously agreed that the more frequent contact they had withstudents, they less likely they were to be in jeopardy of failing the class. Being in class on aregular basis avoided confusion of class expectations, provided opportunities to work with peersand to seek clarification from the instructor. According to the teachers this lead to anotherfactor of success, that of student engagement in at least one of the many units taught in theclass. Teachers remarked that for most students that were successful in Global Perspectives,they exhibited a genuine fascination with at least one unit (more often, many units) covered inthe class. A strong personal connection to content was cited as a correlated factor for studentsgetting passing grades in Global Perspectives. The interviews yielded feedback that points to higher than average absenteeism asbeing directly related to academic difficulty with the class. When asked to identify the numberone reason students end up failing and the dominant characteristic of students who fail GlobalPerspectives, all teachers responded that non-attendance was central to both questions. Someteachers indicated that there may be a relationship with outside social factors (family discord,interpersonal relationships, lack of same-age friendships, etc.) that could be contributing factorsin the puzzle of student absences. Overall, respondents indicated that if the student was absent,despite the best efforts of the teacher to overcome that (posting assignments on a class blog,emails sent home, homework sent to the office for family pick up, phone calls home, etc.) therewas a high probability that they would score very poorly (if at all) on those given assignments.Thus a high rate of absenteeism likely resulted in not accumulating enough points to pass theclass. Finally, the surveys revealed that teachers believe that students who lack a personalconnection to the school (participating in extra-curricular activities, language or cultural barriers,little or no social network of same-age friends, etc.) were at risk of failing Global Perspectives.Teachers responded that if the student didn’t establish a connection to the general propose ofthe class (as a launch pad for future academic success in high school), due to absenteeism orother factors, the potential for failure was greatly increased.2011 Freshman grade synthesis: After collecting the data of final grades for the freshman class in 2011, a pictureemerged of the characteristics of the student that fails Global Perspectives. One objective ofthis evaluation is to determine a profile of the student who has failed Global Perspectives andtherefore may heighten the awareness of teachers in the near future of students who may beat risk of failure. This evaluation of the quantitative data has yielded the following numericalpicture of the freshman class in 2011. While the overwhelming majority of students received an A or a B in Global Perspectives(46.2% and 24.1% respectively), 7.9% of the 457 freshman failed the class. Those that failedhad an average total GPA of 1.04. Grade distribution for Global Perspectives and overall GPAare presented in the tables below.
Figure 1 Figure 2 An emerging picture of students who fail Global Perspectives further developswhen linked with attendance data. The Global Perspectives teacher interview responsesstressed the relationship between attendance and the rate of failures of freshman. As the graphbelow will demonstrate, a correlation between attendance percentage and grades in GlobalPerspectives can be seen. Students who received an A had attendance rates slightly over 97%while students who received an F had attendance rates just below 86%. This was an areaspecifically identified by the the Global Perspectives teaching team as having the strongestpotential to cause students to fail the class.
Figure 3 The data also revealed a telling relationship between failing Global Perspectives andthe other “core classes” they took in their freshman year. Core classes are Math, Science andEnglish/Language Arts. Of the students who failed Global Perspectives, 4 students failed atleast one core class, 18 failed at least two other core classes and 10 failed three other coreclasses. As indicated in the table below, students failing Global Perspectives also had very lowGPA averages in core classes. GPA averages in Core Classes of Students Failing Global Perspectives Students Failing Global Perspectives Average Math GPA 1.06 Average Science GPA .53 Average English/Language Arts GPA .16 Figure 4This is significant in that the teacher surveys indicated that the majority of the GlobalPerspectives class is centered around academic skill building. These skills, while not identicalor coordinated with the Science, Math or English/Language Arts departments, are exceedinglysimilar in their nature and application in all four classes. Difficulty with a skill in one class could
lead to similar difficulties in Global Perspectives (non-fiction reading, determining relevance ofsources, analyzing skills, writing, reading and oral presentation skills). All respondents to the interviews suggested a potential for failure might stem from thestudent not establishing a personal connection with the content. One responded indicated thatcultural and/or linguistic barriers might be a cause of this, others responded that interference ofoutside forces in the students personal lives might be to blame for this lack of connection. Whileunable to survey student’s attitudes due to school not being in session at the time of thisevaluation, one aspect of the data was interpreted to reveal a statistical anomaly formed alongracial identification of the freshman student. A disproportionally higher rate of Hispanic studentsmade up the pool of those who failed Global Perspectives (see Figure 5 below). Although theycomprise only 15% of the general population at Tualatin High School, Hispanic students failedGlobal Perspectives at a rate just over 20%. Only 2 students failed Global Perspectives thatwere classified as Limited English Proficient (LEP), yet the cultural and linguistic subtleties ofthe course might prove to be a barrier to the larger Hispanic student population. This alsoapplied to students identifying as Asian students as well, their failure rate was over 9% despiteonly numbering just 6% of the school population. Percent of Racial Groups Failing Global Perspectives 2011 Racial Group Percentage of Students Failing Global Perspectives White 3.57% Hispanic 20.2% Asian 9.09% Figure 5 The grade data revealed another picture of the student who fails Global Perspectives,that of state test scores on Math, Reading and Writing tests recorded in their 8th grade year. Asdemonstrated in Figures 6 and 7 below, a strong relationship exists between test scores and thegrade received in Global Perspectives one year later. Students earning a grade of D or higherin Global Perspectives performed better on the state tests taken in their 8th grade year than didstudents who failed the class. While scoring an average of approximately 1% lower on Mathand Reading tests, students who fail Global Perspectives scored an average of 5% lower on theWriting test than students who have a D or higher.
Figure 6 Figure 7How good were the results of the program?
Since one of the informal goals of the program was to promote academic success forfreshman, with a failure rate just over 7% the results of the Global Perspectives program couldbe categorized as “promising.” This is not to imply that the failure of any student should beaccepted but when compared to school’s overall trend of graduation rates being in the 97%range for the last decade (a 3% failure rate), the success rate of the Global Perspectivesprogram could be acceptable given the much lower stakes present as compared to graduatinghigh school. Additionally, it is generally accepted that freshman are less mature than seniors,are more prone to rash behavior and less likely to seriously contemplate the long-termconsequences of their actions. As a result, a success rate of 93% could understandably beconsidered promising, admittedly with room for improvement.Are there any other possible explanations of the program results? Having not worked closely with middle school teachers or administrators, it is possiblethat some success could be, and more than likely is, attributed to the academic training andexposure these students received as 8th graders and before. District writing and readingprograms at the middle school level are unknown to the evaluator and may account for a solidbasis upon which the research skills and other academic requirements of the GlobalPerspective curriculum are situated upon. Additionally, specific writing and reading skills taughtin the freshman English/Language Arts class are also unknown to the evaluator and may havecontributed to some of the academic success of the students.What are the benefits associated with the program? Benefits of the program are as yet hard to quantify, but clearly perceptible. The course isthe closest thing to a “freshman homeroom” experience for these students. Numerous schooldistricts have struggled with ways to successfully transition students from middle school to highschool. The academic, social, and emotional changes in expectations can be very challengingfor some freshman. A goal of the Global Perspectives course is to minimize the stress andanxiety of entering high school. This is difficult to quantify without extensive student surveysand tracking of grade data as well as social and emotional surveys throughout their high schoolcareers. However, based upon feedback from the teachers interviewed and my own personalexperiences in teaching the class, it can be said that Global Perspectives is generally a safe,shared experience for freshman in which they can express their concerns and experience thetransition to high school securely among their peers. Conclusions & RecommendationsPart I Immediate ConclusionsAttendance issues
● Attendance is a strong correlative factor for being at risk of failing Global Perspectives. Students with excessive absences (4 to 5 days missed in a semester) are in jeopardy of failing the class. ● Open lines of communication between teacher and parents of students who are prone to absenteeism. Alert school counselors and administrators of concerns over specific student attendance rate. ● Work with school Attendance office to clarify absences as being either excused or unexcused. After two unexcused absences, make parent contact and enlist support of associate Principal for Student Affairs.Hispanic students and Academic Achievement ● Identify Hispanic students who may be struggling early in the semester so as to avoid the possibility of failure. ● Once the Hispanic students in need of extra academic support are identified, alert the school based “Strategic Tutor” to work individually with them over the course of the semester to improve their grade in Global Perspectives as well as any other classes needing assistance.Core class failures/low grades ● Closely monitor minority students with low grades in any core classes; refer to Strategic Tutor for academic support. ● Create a bi-weekly grade check activity as a part of the class curriculum as taught by all Global Perspective teachers. Use this activity to identify students early in the semester with low grades in core classes.8th Grade State Test Scores ● Gather 8th grade State test scores for Writing, Reading, and Math and alert the school’s Strategic Tutor to monitor students with low scores. ● Alert counseling department to the students identified with low state test scores to be sensitive to early dips in their overall GPA. ● Pay particular attention to low Writing scores as the data from 2011 freshman indicated a larger gap in scores between students who earned a D in Global Perspectives and those who failed. Establish contact with the English/Language arts teacher of students with low Writing scores for strategies that may be helpful in helping students with the required writing aspects of the class.Part II Long-Range Planning ● It is recommended to establish an monthly attendance report so as to identify students who may be heading toward a critical point deficit as a result of excessive absences that may prove to be impossible to correct in time to avoid a failing grade. ● In an attempt to mitigate the negative effects of student absences, urge teachers of Global Perspectives to create a simple web page or blog in which absent students and/ or parents could be made aware of assignments and activities they may have missed. Advertise this feature extensively to the parents of freshman students (notices sent home, in the signature of school email account, on school web page, in school news letter, handouts at open house and parent conferences).
● Collaborate with the Middle Schools from which Tualatin High School gets most of their freshman from to identify Hispanic students who struggled academically up through the 8th grade. ● Work in concert with the counseling office and the online grading system present in the school district, to monitor student grades in other core classes in order to identify students at risk of failing Global Perspectives. Work with district IT department personnel to create a notification system of student grades entering the critical zone of less than 70% in any class (the school is generally on standard 90% 80% 70% 60% grading system). ● Establish collaborative planning activities between teachers of Global Perspectives and English/Language Arts teachers to work on common strategies concerning reading and writing skills to bolster students skills in those respective areas as the two classes share many academic traits (and a corresponding failure rate- refer to Figure Four).Part III Evaluation Insights Given the opportunity to conduct this evaluation again, I would undertake it while schoolwas in session. Not having any opinion or attitudinal feedback from the students enrolled inGlobal Perspectives was a limiting factor in determining all of the likely causes of studentfailures. Surveys could be conducted using a Likert scale to gauge student opinions andattitudes relative to the class. Students could be interviewed using sampling techniques (simplerandom samples or perhaps strategic sampling based upon 8th grade test scores or currentgrades in Global Perspectives if carried out after a significant passage of time) to determinetheir views of the class while it is progress. Other surveys could be conducted of formerstudents (current 10th, 11th, or 12th graders) who had previously taken Global Perspectives.Data could be collected as to how well the research skills they were exposed to have retainedby them, as well as tracking their grade from Global Perspectives and what they have earned insuccessive Social Studies and English/Language Arts classes. Taking advantage of school being in session would also allow me to survey the rest ofthe Social Studies department, other teachers of freshman classes, the counseling department,the entire administrative team, and parents of current and former freshman. Gaining theirfeedback on what may cause freshman to fail in general may be illuminating when trying tofocus on why freshman students fail this class in particular.
Appendix A.Finalized TimelineDate Day Task ● 6/27/2011 Collect data with Asst. Principal ● 6/30/2011 Create qualitative data survey ● 7/1/2011 Create qualitative data survey ● 7/4/2011 Get feedback on Survey ● 7/5/2011 Get feedback on Survey ● 7/7/2011 Finalize interview questions and submit back to survey recipients for approval. ● 7/11/2011 Administer interview to GP teaching team members. ● 7/12/2011 Administer interview to GP teaching team members. ● 7/14/2011 Provide synthesized summary to interview subjects for edits/corrections. ● 7/15/2011 Be interviewed by neutral 3rd party. ● 7/16/2011 Align and analyze Student data and Staff feedback. ● 7/17/2011 Align and analyze Student data and Staff feedback. ● 7/18/2011 Align and analyze Student data and Staff feedback. ● 7/19/2011 Purpose & Background sections ● 7/20/2011 Methodology section ● 7/21/2011 Results section ● 7/22/2011 Discussion & Conclusion sections ● 7/23/2011 Conclusions & Recommendations section ● 7/25/2011 Executive Summary section ● 7/26/2011 Revise & proof read ● 7/27/2011 Final project ● 7/29/2011 Submit Final project
Appendix BInterview Questions for Global Perspectives Teaching Team 1. Describe the typical freshman student. 2. How would you describe what the GP course is? 3. If you were asked to specify them, what are the objectives of the GP course? 4. What is the scope and sequence of the way you taught GP? 5. is your grading system based on a cumulative assignment grade or proficiency? 6. What things, specific to GP, should a student be able to demonstrate at the end of the school year? 7. If a student cannot perform a majority of those things by the end of the class, what is the likelihood they will pass GP? 8. What are the characteristics of the typical student that is successful in GP? 9. Are the factors of successful students in GP as a result of course content or what they bring to the class? 10. If you had to choose the number one reason why students are successful in GP, what would that be and why? 11. What are the characteristics of the typical student that is unsuccessful in GP? 12. What do you think are the causes of student failing GP? 13. In your opinion, were more failures a result of non completion of course content or poor performances? 14. In your opinion, were more failures a result of non completion of major project(s) or from poor performance on the major project(s)? 15. If you had to choose the number one reason that cause students to fail GP, what would that be and why? 16. If you asked most students who failed your GP course “why” they failed, what would they say? 17. What other school related indicators would you identify as being predictive of students who may be at risk of failing GP? 18. Any individual comments, insights or suggestions?