In the fall of 2008 the Cleveland Metropolitan School District and the Metropolitan Cleveland Consortium for Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), whose 80-plus members include NASA Glenn Research Center, Cleveland Clinic, University Circle Institutions, General Electric, Eaton, Seimens, Case-Western Reserve University, Cleveland State University, Kent State University and Cuyahoga Community College, opened the doors of the first HB 119 STEM high school in the state of Ohio. The Metropolitan Cleveland Consortium (MCSquared) STEM High School was designed for the 21st century. By design MC Squared opened its enrollment to the 124,000 students across 18 public school districts; it is a year round school and mobile campus structure that uses corporate sites and downtown Cleveland as its classroom with a uniquely designed governance structure. MC Squared positioned itself to become a national model for STEM education.
Central to the school’s vision are its seven core design principles. These design principlesserve to provide the backbone for every aspect of the school’s design.These core design principles are:MC Squared STEM High School will ensure opportunities for all students to be academically challenged while appropriately supported. MC Squared STEM High School will use multiple metrics to measure success. MC Squared STEM High School’s instructional program will be trans-disciplinary in natureMC Squared STEM High School’s instructional program will be highly differentiated.MC Squared STEM High School will hire a diverse faculty.MC Squared will serve as a microcosm of the global STEM community. MC Squared will recognize the importance of citizenship.
Admission to MC2 STEM is based on a lotteryMulti-campus high school with:9th grade located at the Great Lakes Science Center with NASA as a community partner10th grade located at Nela Park (GE’s world headquarters for Lighting) and partnered with GE Lighting 11th and 12th grade located near Cleveland State University with students attending college courses on college campuses, participating in paid internships, and taking classes at school location in downtown Cleveland, Ohio.Trans-Disciplinary Project-based school focused on issues of energy and sustainabilityYear round school – 10 weeks on and 3 weeks offCredit based on mastery, not seat time Students must obtain mastery on every mastery assignment for a course to receive creditMaster is defined as successful completion at a rate of 90% or higher on the academic benchmarks or higher Less than 90% completion = work in progressMC Squared’sNela Park Campus houses the first high school based MIT ‘FAB LAB’. The ‘FAB LAB’ (fabrication lab) allows a student to be imaginative and innovative when working on class projects and activities. The students also have access via videoconference to view and interact with the other global FAB LABs.
By most accounts the school is headed in the right direction. Students achieve at high levels, processes and protocols for partnership development and curriculum delivery have begun to spread to other schools and educational entities, and observers that visit are impressed by the students that they meet and talk to. The school has begun to garner national and international attention for the work that we are doing. We attribute the student growth to rich trans-disciplinary, project based experiences, strong community connections with the school, a mastery based grading system, a year-round school calendar, authentic STEM experiences, a college preparatory curriculum, and a culture of support. We measure the number of students who pass OGTs on time, the number who reach masteries, attendance rates, and how satisfied students are with their school experience and visitors are satisfied.
MC2 STEM has received some high praise from around the country“American needs more schools like MC2 STEM High School” OBAMA STATE OF THE UNION One of The Best Urban High Schools – NCUSTSSchools that Work – EDUTOPIAReference in the Mayor’s Cleveland PlanReplication of components of the model as far away as Cairo Egypt.We are proud of this praise but also very curious about what components of the school are making the biggest difference to our kids and interested in being able to articulate this impact.
While these represent powerful understanding, our work would be incomplete if we did not attempt to systematize these findings in a way that helped us to frame all of our future work with our students. And since we were looking to engineer a system, we looked to engineering for inspiration. Engineers have known for centuries that an equilateral triangle is the strongest two dimensional structure. Actually an equilateral triangle resists distortion based destruction with the most efficiency of any two dimensional structure. this for centuries as some of the oldest standing structures were built using this known fact. We want students who wont break.
For the same reasons that the ancient Egyptians uses an equilateral triangle as the basis for the Giza Pyramids and may others around their country, in the field of education can benefit from viewing the development of resilient citizens in the same way. Maximizing and sustaining student achievement depends upon three determinants that taken together strengthen and support one another, and consequently, the whole. These three determinants (Self-Management, Motivation, and Social Engagement), when present in full capacity and connected to each other systematically, form the boundaries necessary for maximized sustained academic achievement. Students who reach their maximum academic potential in a tri-faceted non-academic academic support system are able to withstand immense force without distortion. MC2 STEM High School’s approach to school provides systematic opportunities for students to experience the type of growth necessary to become more resilient.
Unlike MC Squared, the model and experience of schooling in most high schools does not match up well with the context of the 21st century work world. Schools need to realign their model to challenge and motivate every student by presenting authentic opportunities to grow and learn the complex skills needed to succeed in today’s environment. In the standard methodology for assessing growth, high school students are given a series of traditional assignments and earn a letter grade based on the percentage of the assignment that was completed correctly. The system design reinforces a need for extrinsic motivation as a pattern. Students enter into this system under the pressure to get the right answer the first time, knowing that they will otherwise be marked down. “Academic motivation” is defined as 1) academic drive 2) attitudes toward school and learning, and 3) enthusiasm for academic achievement (Le et al., 1995).At the heart of the association between motivation and achievement is the assertion that children who believe they can achieve a goal are motivated to engage in behaviors leading to that goal, are more likely to behave with greater goal-oriented effort and persistence, and are ultimately more effective in achieving the goal. Social Engagement is defined as the ability to exchange information effectively with others; the ability to work collaboratively with others and; the ability to develop and maintain relationships with others
Building on the “blank” slate is a “position” that seemed to trend among all incoming freshman at MC Squared. It presented itself as students entering a new state of mind to match their new environment. In all instances the old “habits” of self were informally addressed and pushed aside with a commitment to building a new narrative and connection to the “cue” of school, and thus a new routine. The new environment created an internal dialogue in the students’ heads which said: starting high is important; at MC Squared High School they will expect me, and I will be required, to achieve at high levels. This new mindset, and its operationalization, allowed students a freedom to learn and grow in an environment in which failure is viewed as only a natural step toward ultimate success. MC Squared challenges students by offering learning opportunities that may result in a level of failure from which they can still learn, but does not allow them to reach the point of terminal failure, or giving up. This balanced approach encourages students to set high academic goals while feeling safe to take academic risks, knowing that they will be supported until they reach high levels of achievement. This mastery based approach to learning and assessment becomes an internal motivational trigger instilling confidence and pride. It also prepares students for academic, personal, and career success beyond MC Squared.
The research defines social engagement as social connectedness, team work and social activity (Robbins, 2004).Social Connection- Social connectedness refers to an individual’s engagement in an interactive web of key relationships, within communities that have particular physical and social structures that are affected by broad economic and political force Team Work-In the mind of many executives today, teamwork skills go hand in hand with different approaches to leadership thatschools have been slow to adopt (Wagner, 2008) and therefore students are not being prepared.Social Activity-Peer interactions are particularly important with regard to social integration because students are more likely to stay in school when they feel comfortable and connected to other students with similar interests and aspirations (social integration) . Almost every students at MC2 STEM is from a home that is below the poverty line. While this line is based on economic standing it also indicates a probably lack of social resources supportive of upward movement.Students from MC2 STEM report that they have role models and supports from the community that they can rely on when they have questions or need support.
This leads to students who understand how to leverage social networks that their socio-economic status often exclude them from.Students who have fully internalized this concept are thriving in post secondary environments because they know how to work on teams and leverage people and resources when they need to.
The diversity of experiences and flexibility of the school to support students individually in the aforementioned manner provides students an “ecological” context for authentic interactions as behavior is modeled first by adults, and then by their peer group. Thus the school provides a challenging and diversified learning environment (project-based curricular model and socially supportive culture) that fosters both academic achievement and personal growth within the family collective. It was this combined social and academic integration, I believe, that led to a greater commitment and persistence among student’s desire to learn, and to go on learning.
The last determinant that we will examine through the data in this chapter is self-management. Self-Management, the third Primary Determinant was subdivided into the following three Secondary Determinants:Self-determination-Evidence of a sense of goal orientation and an internal locus of controlSelf-control-The ability to understand and effectively manage one’s own emotions in order to reach defined goals and proof that one is doing thisPhysical Well-being-The ability to recognize and implement healthy behaviors and evidence of health choices (I.e. Observable Traits and Subjective Traits)
Most people tend to frame the world around a workable day-to-day mantra where safety and stability combine to equate a conception of reality that eschews risk-taking. At MC Squared however, students are presented with real, life-changing decisions, and thus assume a modicum of control over their personal and professional destinies. Given peer and adult encouragement and support, students at MC Squared are provided shelter from the harsh realities of their everyday lives to experience what it is like as a typical teenager exploring life’s purpose, meaning, and dreaming of a future career. It requires an “un-ringing of Pavlov’s Bell” through behavioral changes (i.e. extinction) and reinforcement of new behaviors and norms that support new behavior. This is particularly important to the psychological development of adolescents.
Once the students began attending MC Squared the school provided new social structures and norms for behavior and expectations that allowed them to grow personally while achieving academically. At the same time, the school provided a wide range of new learning experiences, adult and peer connections, and interactive social models that helped them re-interpret their pre-MC Squared perceptions, behaviors, and expectations. They had to un-learn how they previously understood the world and school; and in the process, build new internal identity structures and points of reference. Many found new social support anchors in the MC Squared community, or were able to contextualize their previous social support systems with new knowledge, thus effectively marginalizing those old behaviors that were not conducive to their success. Ending NEED AN ENDING
Student Success Triangle