School improvement plan: academic and financial support
February 4, 2016
This is one article in a series out of four concerning the school improvement plan.
The school improvement plan is a document that every school in Massachusetts is required to create and make public every year, according to Headmaster Deborah Holman. This year’s school improvement plan was released a couple of months late do to the amount of work that went into it.
“Brookline High School needs it, badly. It has taken three years of my being here to really see how the school is operating and what it needs,” Holman said. “We are just at a point that, not only faculty, but also students can see the direction of where we needed to go, in terms of the district vision of educational equity.”
Holman said that the plan was created by the school council, which meets monthly and includes parents, students and faculty. The plan was developed during the spring and summer of 2015 and completed in the fall. The plan is available on the town of Brookline’s website and reproduced below.
Holman said that the plan focuses on changing instruction and culture at the high school, and less on creating new systems. The goals outlined in the improvement plan fit roughly into one of four categories: racial equity, academic and financial support, mental health and administration.
Check here for the entirety of the school improvement plan:
Academic and financial support
Alternative Choices in Education
Alternative Choices in Education (ACE) is a recently reorganized program (formerly known as Opportunity For Change) focused on competency-based education which students can opt into. ACE’s short term goals are to set up the new program and train its staff so that they can support the new program and its methods. A long term goal is to increase enrollment in the program. According to the improvement plan, ACE will be ready for next steps when staff are grounded in competency-based curriculums and comprehend the new program.
College and Career Center
Plans for the new College and Career Center are to launch and develop it, identify staff to work on it, and identify a space for the center. There was a center like it in the past, but it was cut due to budget constraints. The long term goal is for the new center to become a core of college and career planning for students and families. There are plans for partnerships with AALSP, METCO, Steps to Success, ACE and Excel. The center’s first year is the 2015-2016 school year, and there is currently a part-time career planning counselor working there.
Response to Intervention map
Response to Intervention is a behavioral intervention program that Dean Anthony Meyer and Associate Dean Lisa Redding studied at a conference in Minnesota, according to Alexander. They plan to do more research on this new method, which advises on handling behavioral issues in school and setting up a Response to Intervention team. Holman said that this program focuses on helping students learn material they were not able to understand in class, with systems such as teacher office hours and tutoring programs.
Global-Domestic Adventures scholarship
According to Holman, the number of travel programs the high school offers have doubled in the nearly four years she has been headmaster, and scholarships would help more students afford these trips.
“If we can get a scholarship fund that’s coordinated, that fund can help close the gap between what families can afford and what the cost is,” Holman said.
There are plans to create the fund in partnership with the high school’s PTO and secure money, as well as host a fundraising event in the spring of 2016 and establish a sustainable fundraising model.
Before and after school supports
The high school offers various academic support structures outside of school hours, such as the Writing and Math Center, Calculus Project and the Tutorial program. Some goals for them include measuring their impact, coordinating using new funding that has been procured for them, planning a timeline and ways to analyse the programs. There are also plans to be able to report on how effective the supports are.
Restorative justice disciplinary model
Deans and the headmaster are looking towards shifting the school towards a restorative justice disciplinary model. Restorative justice is a model to help students reintegrate back into the community after a transgression. Holman gave the example of having students who were suspended for starting a food fight meet with custodians, who would explain to them that they had to put in extra hours and how having to clean up that mess made them feel or affected their lives. This would help students understand the effects of their actions and aid them in making changes in their behavior after they are reintegrated into the community.