Achieve3000 addresses a need that all students and all teachers encounter in the classroom. When a teacher is selecting a piece of text for students to read, it is difficult to find a text that is accessible and meaningful to all students. In any given classroom, the students fall in a huge range of reading levels, sometimes ranging from beginning readers to students who can interact with text at a college level. To address this need, Achieve3000 assesses students using a standard measure: the Lexile score. Once the student has been assessed, all of the articles the teacher assigns to the student or the student chooses to read for him/herself will be at an appropriate reading level for each student. That means that a student who is an emerging reader will have a simpler text than a student who is reading at an advanced level, but the same content will be addressed. This puts everyone on a level playing field for learning in the classroom while simultaneously pushing each student to improve in their ability to interact with expository text each time they complete a reading activity. The goal with Achieve3000 is that each student completes 2 reading articles and activities per week, 80 total for the year. They can do this both in the classroom and at home.
ALEKS has been a resource for our students for the past several years. It provide students with the opportunity to work on content standards at their own pace and it gives them immediate feedback on their performance. Since students can work at their own pace, the program can remediate (help kids catch up) or students can work beyond their grade level. The program starts with basic math facts and goes up all the way through calculous. The goal with ALEKS is that each student completes 5-10 hours of work on the program each week. Doing so will help them complete their grade level topics before the end of the school year, preparing them for both state testing and for the following school year’s instruction. They can do this both in the classroom and at home.
The CASA service learning project has become a pivotal piece of our humanities curriculum. MORCS has participated in this project and grant with the National Council of La Raza (now Unidos US) for the past 5 years. Each year students go through the service learning cycle in their ELA and History classes, taking them from researching a social justice issue they are interested in and ultimately implementing a solution to help contribute to awareness about the issue they select. The project includes aspects that also connect to the common core state standards and help prepare students for college and career.
MORCS has been a Success for All school since the school opened its doors over a decade ago. Success for All is a reading intervention, remediation, and advancement program that provides students with reading instruction at their ability level, not their age level. It includes remediation content to help students catch up on reading and literacy skills they have not yet mastered. It also includes honors courses to help kids progress beyond their grade level if they are ready instructionally. In addition to the supports provided for students, the structure of the SFA program and curriculum helps teachers master the cycle of effective instruction and teaches them classroom practices that have the most impact on student learning, including group collaboration, team reading, discussion, and use of rubrics to assess learning and mastery.
One of the foremost advances in schoolwide discipline is the emphasis on schoolwide systems of support that include proactive strategies for defining, teaching, and supporting appropriate student behaviors to create positive school environments. Instead of using a piecemeal approach of individual behavioral management plans, a continuum of positive behavior support for all students within a school is implemented in areas including the classroom and non-classroom settings (such as hallways, buses, and restrooms). Positive behavior support is an application of a behaviorally-based systems approach to enhance the capacity of schools, families, and communities to design effective environments that improve the link between research-validated practices and the environments in which teaching and learning occurs. Attention is focused on creating and sustaining Tier 1 supports (universal), Tier 2 supports (targeted group), and Tier 3 supports (individual) systems of support that improve lifestyle results (personal, health, social, family, work, recreation) for all children and youth by making targeted behaviors less effective, efficient, and relevant, and desired behavior more functional (taken directly from pbis.org).
In the traditional grading system, students are frequently given opportunities to “raise their grade” through extra credit or by receiving points for participation or good behavior. While we definitely want our kids to learn how to appropriately interact with others and to participate in class, we believe that grades should reflect student mastery and learning. So we give students grades based on learning outcomes written using the California State Standards. This practice will help teachers, students, and parents know exactly where students are performing well and in which areas they still need to grow.