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Improving A-G Completion – A Research/Practice Partnership

College Bridge - Success Report June 2016

Executive Summary

“I am now doing my assignments and don't stress too much over it. I also learned to ask for help and speak up.”
- Success Student

The Success Project* was a credit boost academic intervention whose overarching purpose is to prepare at-risk students to graduate college and workforce ready. The program was predicated upon academic resilience and incremental intelligence (growth mindset) theory and developed in order to ameliorate the problem of XYZ students not being on track to earn a “C” or higher in their A-G coursework. The program was rolled out in two phases with phase one consisting of English and Algebra and phase two adding Biology and World History. In phase one, XYZ teachers were paired with their content area counterparts from local universities to co-teach the Success curriculum in order to ensure the program’s rigor. Professors and teachers engaged in job-embedded professional development (PD) that focused on building the students’ academic resiliency and fostering a growth mindset. For phase two, XYZ teachers implemented Success by themselves. The Success pilot was implemented across six XYZ high schools in Local District Central (LDC). Schools with at least one-half of their students not making adequate progress toward A-G completion were recruited. This selection included comprehensive, small (pilot), magnet, and span schools. Coordinators from each site were enlisted and tasked with recruiting both teachers and students for the pilot. A total of 27 teachers participated (11 Math, eight English, six Biology, and two World History). Students who previously earned a final grade below a “C” but were within 10 percentage points of a passing grade were recruited for the program. A total of 557 students were enrolled in Success. Of those, 445 students attended at least one session, and 87% earned a credit boost. The chief reasons offered by students for being unable to complete the program were scheduling conflicts and family issues. Qualitative data were collected from 231 students to learn what impact, if any, the program had on them. From the surveys, 83% of students reported changing as a result. The primary changes discussed by the students were increased content knowledge or a change in their mindset. Similarly, 94% of teachers interviewed (n = 19) reported a positive impact on their students with 59% contending that it increased their students’ content knowledge and 88% citing that it changed their students’ mindsets. Teachers also reported that Success had a positive impact on them professionally with 89% citing improved content and pedagogical knowledge and 63% noting an increased ability to foster resiliency and a growth mindset in their students. Success was implemented with a high degree of fidelity (uniformity) across the six pilot school sites. The only areas of adaptation (variation) were scheduling, student recruitment and enrollment, and student populations. Participants delineated three major challenges in implementing the program: limited student pool, scheduling conflicts, and limited planning and PD time. The corresponding recommendations by the evaluation team are: (1) balance fidelity of policies and practices with adaptation at each school, (2) involve all stakeholders, including families and counselors, in student recruitment, (3) schedule Success strategically, and (4) expand PD. Finally, four best practices emerged from the Success pilot: (1) use student-centered, participatory curricula, (2) utilize resiliency and growth mindset as vehicles to deliver the content, (3) co-teach with professors for combined PD and student motivation, and (4) enlist counselors for student recruitment. * As an internally commissioned project, the name was changed to Success for publication. **XYZ is a pseudonym for a large urban school district in Southern California.