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San Marcos CISD 2011:

Phoenix Academy graduated 30% of district graduates!

Is that a ‘good’ thing?

Prepared by: Derly Andre Tijerina, Independent Consultant

January 2012


Table of Contents

Executive Summary: Memo to Texas RE: Alternative Education

1

Dropouts

2

Texas Public School Reports

P-16 Committee Presentation – Sam Houston State Univ.

Impact of Poverty on Education

Effects of Poverty Working with Students and Adults from Poverty

Educating beyond Irritating Behaviors The Problem

Teaching with Poverty in Mind

Sociology of Families – Brines 2006

The Solution

iNACOL

A+Learning System

The Shanker Institute

 

Make Special Ed “Special” Again

Concerted Cultivation Social Class and Family Life

On-line Learning The Convergence of Online and Face-to-Face Education

C Computer t Based B dC Curriculum i l (CBC) Comprehensive Description

+

Systems View for Planning

Capacity Building as P.D. The Imperative for Professional Development in Education

NAEA Exemplary Practices in Alt Ed

Best Practices In Alt Ed Indicators of Quality Programming

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

Template p &

Model

Legacy of Success: Pathfinders Comments from Superintendents

Program Evaluation Data 2008 - 2011

10


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Memo to Texas To:

Texas Public School Systems – Strategic Planners

From:

Derly Andre Tijerina, Independent Consultant

Date:

January 2012

Re:

Alternative Education in Texas Public School Systems

Overview In March of 2005, I joined the educators of Texas in wrestling with dropout issues. After a decade teaching architects to use CAD systems and a decade teaching healthcare IT people about data integration, by some miracle of circumstance, I started working with Alternative Schools. I saw educators diagnose and prescribe (just like healthcare). I saw interventions designed and applied to accelerate student learning. Along the way, I have witnessed a sea change. Schools were being asked to use data to measure outcomes (just like healthcare). Education, which has ALWAYS been a qualitative process – defined by humanities – was forced into science, which measures objectively and decides by the honorable assessment of mathematical (i.e. statistical) judgments. Now, we are learning (collectively) how kids learn and what to do (specifically) with kids who struggle. During a recent meeting with curriculum planners at San Marcos CISD, a general question was raised about Alternative Education. When the community learned that the SMCISD Alternative Program – The Phoenix Academy – had graduated 30% of the SMCISD graduates, board members asked, “Is that a ‘good’ thing?” This is an important question to explore. The reality of the situation can easily be buried in personal / local perceptions, while the larger context of the question is overlooked. So here, I offer some industry overviews that describe a climate of change in the national dialogue about education. This allows us to begin the discussion about a specific alternative school setting – the Phoenix Academy in San Marcos, Texas – with a valid review of the background conditions that are being addressed in the community. Community in this context extends to the national debate and the realities of a global economy. _______________________________________________________________________________ Prepared by: Derly Andre Tijerina, Independent Consultant

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There are four specific concepts that frame the discussion, followed by a summary conclusion: 1. Dropout rates suggest an epidemic in the U.S. workforce. a. 36% of Texas students who enter the 9th grade, do not finish high school in four years. b. The chances are 50/50 that a black or Hispanic male will graduate high school. c. In 2005, the USA graduated more sports-exercise majors than electrical engineering majors.

d. Top students from American schools are from immigrant families.

2. Students have changed. Schools have not. a. Technology has revolutionized learning, but (many, perhaps most) teachers have not joined the revolution. Schools continue as (generally) low-tech environments. b. Advanced professional development shows new focus on “capacity building” so that a teacher can successfully serve more students with required/necessary learning activities to achieve stated goals through expanded use of technology. [see APPENDIX 8: Shanker Institute – The Imperative for Professional Development in Education].

c. Struggling students respond to a blended model for learning. The blended technique combines self-paced learning, in which personal progress or “control” of “instructional materials” is in the hands of each student, AND highly qualified teachers are available for as-needed direct teach. _______________________________________________________________________________ Prepared by: Derly Andre Tijerina, Independent Consultant

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d. Just-in-Time Direct Teach is a technique that was invented by SMCISD staff and has evolved organically. It has also been validated independently in national experiences with education as “blended-learning” by iNACOL [APPENDIX 6: North American Counsel on Online Learning – Blended Learning: The Convergence of Online and Face-to-face Education, 2011]. 3. At-risk students need more than “knowledge” of core curricula. New understanding of social/family development indicates that there may be two distinct issues that need to be publicly addressed; Natural Growth adolescents manifest behaviors of low-performing students and Suburban Non-conformists resist the authoritarian structure of the classroom. Add another dimension to the scenario by considering the “Net Gen” affect. This amplifies the tension between students and the classroom environments where they are supposed to learn. Both Natural Growth adolescents and Non-conformists fail academically in traditional school settings: a. Natural Growth adolescents lack behavioral/socialization skills (e.g. self-discipline, time management, social response filtering, etc) that are necessary for traditional public school settings. “Natural Growth” and “Concerted Cultivation” are both parenting styles. Natural growth kids grow with age-mates and seldom interact with literacy exercises or adult conversation. Under “natural growth parenting”, children grow “on their own”. Concerted Cultivation, on the other hand, takes place in suburbia in the form of dance and piano lessons, soccer and gymnastics, visits to libraries and museums. It is a silent invisible marker of upper and middle class America. A child in a family practicing concerted cultivation experiences scheduled activities with adults and peers with focused intent on doing something “as instructed” by the adult specialist. The Concerted Cultivation vs. Natural Growth question is a defining factor in a student’s capacity to learn. Alternative education environments are responding to the needs of these students, who lack social/interpersonal skills that “would be” provided by family-centered or a home-based style of cultivation.

Natural Growth adolescents manifest behaviors of low-performing students and Suburban Non-conformists resist the authoritarian structure of the classroom.

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b. Non-Conformist Be ehaviors crea ate hostility an nd confrontattion between at-risk studen nts and “the system” s repre esented by Texas Public Schools. S The dra amatic expanssion of social media m has amplified behavio ors of non-con nformists to the e point th hat they lack social/interperssonal skills to navigate n traditiional environm ments. In the past, no on-conforming g kids were iso olated and disssociated, so th heir general te endency was to o assimilate. Howeverr, with the adve ent of social media m and relia ance on personal mobile commu unications, non n-conforming adolescents a m mature in (relattive) isolation. They share commu unication mediia and commo on adversarial experiences that, t together, perpetuate and am mplify (perhapss even celebra ate) non-confo orming behavio ors. The resullt is an array of o abrasiv ve behaviors and a general errosion of socia al/cultural skillss needed for th he workplace or o higher education. c. The Ne et Generation n of students sees public schools s as “o out of sync” with w their person nal “connecte ed” electronic c environmen nts. The Ne et Generation (born approx 1980 - 1995) comes c drench hed in persona alized electroniic everyth hing. They arrrive at the door of institutiona al education with w appetites and a expecta ations of dyna amic electronicc experiences. They compro omise their “co onnected” nature at the door of the classroom m to join a sociial group that they t did not ch hoose. Their reaction(s) to their pe eers and the authority a structure of the trad ditional classro oom, either enables or disrupts each e individual’s capacity to learn in that environment. e C Collectively, w we must admit that this social s structure e is overwhelm ming for some students, regardless of how w (exactly y) they arrived d without copin ng skills.

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d. It is the province of Texas Public Schools to serve all students. Regardless of specific personal circumstances, the public school alternative education system should accommodate all students. Each student needs to harmonize personal growth in terms of cultural education (soft skills) and academic goals. The Phoenix Academy provides systemic balance of academic and guidance counseling to act as a harmonization function between the student and the (overall) environment. The slogan goes, “Whole child – whole environment”. 4. If a new team of educators used Best Practices [see APPENDIX 9: Exemplary Practices in Alternative Education – Indicators of Quality Programming, NAEA 2009] to design an exemplary model to deliver alternative education services in San Marcos in 2011, then that model would look very much like the Phoenix Academy.

a. The Pathfinders [see APPENDIX 10: A Legacy of Success – Pathfinders 2004-2009] original model has been replicated successfully: A review of a local PLC (Professional Learning Community) reveals a steady flow of Texas school districts who have found detailed guidance from a site visit to Phoenix Academy. During site visits SMCISD educators share their formula that blends computer-based curriculum (CBC) and direct teach, as needed within a carefully integrated “environment” designed to cultivate learning. b. The personalization of the overall “environment” creates a highly adaptive setting that is both complex and delicately balanced to focus on each student’s learning goals. c. The use of mandatory note-taking, introduces the learner to a system of mediated scaffolds that organize and sustain big ideas. The practice is called the Principle of Conspicuous Strategies (The Construction of Instructional Interventions, Simmons et al, Texas A&M University 2005, pg10), which suggests that multiple exposures to empirical supports is an efficient and effective method of accelerating the rate of engagement with instructional materials. d. The use of lessons, units, and courses formulate a consistent model [see APPENDIX 7: A Comprehensive Description of the A+ Learning System] for completing semester-sized periods for learning (specifically, half-credits). This also establishes a modular basis for a token economy in which specific behaviors (e.g. mastering lessons in an assignment list) are rewarded with some token (e.g. apple icons awarded for mastery of a lesson, and halfcredits earned are recorded with the Academic Counselor on a transcript). The transcript reflects the exact graduation requirements as any SMCISD graduate. e. The Phoenix Academy has been recognized as an example of Practitioner Wisdom in the 2011 A+ User Group PLC, which is a direct result of SMCISD efforts in 2008. [see APPENDIX 10: Legacy of Success – A History of Pathfinders 2004-2010]

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5. Summary Conclusion:

*“The direct province of educators is to intercept and alter the potential negative outcomes associated with poverty.”

It should be no surprise to learn that the indicator for socio-economic status (SES) is the single most significant determinant of the question regarding Natural Growth vs. Concerted Cultivation. It is the imperative of public schools to compensate for the effects of poverty wherever possible. If we (as a community) fail to expose a student to cultivation experiences as a child, then as adolescents, they must be accelerated through a prepared environment that is well-structured for learning. This can best be achieved by developing environments where persistent human guidance directs the energies of a student onto learning paths, which are comprehensive, lean and well-documented. The alternative education setting is the most successful model (to-date) for building and sustaining learning environments that can adapt blended behavioral and academic services to accommodate all learners.  

The balance of our discussion should explore these four concepts in detail. The Summary Conclusion should be in the background all the time. How can we eliminate the generational effects of poverty more directly than by cultivating environments for any student to discover success (regardless of their socio-economic or circumstantial background)?

* “Although the reduction of poverty is generally not the direct province of educators, intercepting and altering the potential negative outcomes associated with poverty are.” [excerpted from] - The Construction of Instructional Interventions: Accelerating the Vocabulary Development and Comprehension of Children in Low-Income Households / Simmons, et al: Texas A&M University

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1, 2 and a 3 are General G Pub blic Educattion Conce erns The firrst three items s are general public p educatio on trends; firstt, the dropout rate r is epidem mic, second, schoo ols have not ke ept pace with changes c in tecchnology, and third, behavio oral issues ove ershadow all acade emic concerns s for dropouts. They basically restate a pa attern of human behavior; wh hen people (off any ag ge) are uncom mfortable or disssatisfied with their environm ments they see ek change. Th he result is clear. (1) Too many y students do not complete their t high scho ool education. (2) The “enviironment” provid ded in public sc chools is not in n sync with exxpectations of self-absorbed s youth, who arre in control off their own o personal electronic e spacce for large po ortions of their waking hourss. These are te echnologyliterate e students (the e Net Generattion), who experience a poorly-equipped (low-tech) ( “sysstem” in the schoo ol building as compared c to th heir private/outt-of-school exp periences.

These e national conc cerns were the e central focuss of the Pathfin nders Dropoutt Recovery Pro ogram, which began n in San Marco os in 2004. It was w clear thatt changes had d to be made, but b the key no otion was that the en nvironment needed to be continuously ada aptive. The firrst adaptive ch hange was one e of simple sched duling. The “sc chool” was ope en from 8am-8 8pm, the stude ents could com me any time th hey were availa able. The beha avioral adjustm ments were mo ore potent and d more frequent. The slogan goes “F Fix the behaviorr first”. Sound ds simple, but the t execution and consisten ncy is a compllex and highly coordinated effort e by a syncchronized team m of dedicated d educators. The T enviro onment is built on trust and respect. r It must be unshaka able and unque estioned. Disrrespect canno ot

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be tolerated, not among students and not between students and staff. Each student has a clear understanding of what is expected academically and that is their focus throughout the school day. Only technology could meet the flexibility requirements that enabled Pathfinders to modify instructional services for each student. The technology issue was addressed with a comprehensive Computer Based Curriculum [see APPENDIX 7] that covered 95% of required TEKS. This baseline curriculum was used for self-paced learning, while highly-qualified teachers were nearby for Just-in-Time Direct Teach. This introduced a subtle change of perception. In traditional school settings, the “teacher” was part of the “system” and the “system is (perceived to be) AGAINST me (the student)”. Within the new environment, the “system” is on the computer and the “teacher” is now on “my side” (to help me complete – or defeat – the curriculum on the computer). The teacher becomes a guide or coach to assist the student’s journey “through” the learning environment. The alternative school system creates a new environment by blending teacher teams, student groupings, and reasonable work/growth expectations through self-established goals. But there is more to it than the mere intelligent design of a “program”. The personality of every community can be seen in its struggle against the progressing edge of failure. This is where local educators apply personal human energy to reach disengaged youth. These are local kids, who are attached to the community in a variety of ways. Disengaged youth in downtown Houston need a different environment than students who grew up with loggers in the piney woods or ranchers in the buffalo prairies of West Texas. These “programs” are personalized for each community. This is a poignant moment in this particular analysis. When we search national resources for a clear definition of the problem and a sketch of promising practices that only imply an effective response, when we look at data that suggests that at-risk students are being well-served (e.g. graduation rates increase, while dropout rates decrease), then a thorough search will lead us back to the Phoenix Academy for a model of “what works” in the public schools systems TODAY.

Item 4 Applies the General Issues in Item 3 to San Marcos CISD Items three (3) and four (4) are presented as solutions. This definition of the dropout problem brings behavioral dimensions into focus. IF Concerted Cultivation includes soft skills and problem-solving techniques that enable students to “succeed” in a 21st Century workforce, AND the workforce is dominated by cultural expectations derived-from Concerted Cultivation, THEN the community should be focused on adolescent students who lack the “cultivation” experience. These students, from Natural Growth environments, can learn in an environment properly cultivated academically and behaviorally for “learning”. Likewise, if young suburban non-conformists have evolved into confrontational irrational students, then it is the obligation of the public school system to adapt appropriate services to reach them in new nonconforming ways. These students need an alternative. If they (students) perceive a lack of control or respect in their current/local/daily situation, then they cannot learn what is expected of them. They cannot learn because they lack social skills to focus academically as they assimilate into environments _______________________________________________________________________________ Prepared by: Derly Andre Tijerina, Independent Consultant

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in which distractions s arise in vario ous frequencie es and volumes. Assimilatio on is consistently disrupted by b behavvior that can be e traced to ina appropriate or uncontrolled reactions r to strress(es) in the e environment..

Learned behaviors that t help a stu udent survive in their private local cultural/ssocial setting may m cause direct and specific conflict c with pe eers or authoritties. New setttings, without new n coping skkills, can cause e intolerrable stresses. Academic questions are moot m without a full suite of be ehavioral coun nseling to help p each student s contac ct and connecct with the learn ning environm ment. The educator (now sometimes referre ed to as a title other than “te eacher”) directss the energiess of each stude ent into and through the prepared environme ent, represente ed by the com mputer-based courseware. c Ultima ately, the altern native school setting s provide es an environm ment and new w “ways” of arriving at the same academic objectives (a TEA A diploma) as any Texas Pu ublic School. _____ ____________ ____________ ___________ ____________ ____________ ____________ __________ Prepareed by: Derly Andre Tijerina, Independeent Consultant

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Conclusion: Therefore, the alternative education system provided by public education (LEAs – Local Education Agencies) needs to address the expectations of at-risk students by personal and environmental adjustments. The personal components are addressed through the development of “soft skills” via behavioral counseling, interactivity with peers and adults (supervisors, teachers, learning-coaches, etc.), group work projects and peer collaboration. The soft skills are above and beyond the traditional learning goals and objectives, but “can be” provided by educators with a keen eye on the academic objectives and a clear understanding of the teen behaviors that threaten success. The academic expectations of traditional school environments (i.e. TAKS Tests and earned credits) remain exactly the same. Alternative environments maintain these expectations but meanwhile, they perform on the front lines of disruptive cultural changes. The cultural shift manifests in a dizzying array of unanticipated behaviors exhibited by Natural Growth adolescents and suburban non-conformists amplified by the “Net Gen affect”. These student-by-student innovations on behavioral nuances can only be handled with guidelines and some latitude so that dedicated educators can observe, adjust, learn and adjust again. The TEA required learning objectives are consistently met by instructional materials that present “learning activities” in well-documented sequences. ALL SMCISD graduates pass the SAME achievement tests. However, it is the alternative setting that builds an environment which cultivates successful behaviors at the same time. They tweak the environment through complex personalized adjustments to a “school system” with many moving parts. Together, it provides a consistent selfpaced learning environment through computer-based curriculum (CBC). Dropout Rate calculations and Leaver Codes blur any analysis of exact dimensions of the cultural shift we are all living through. We use Exit Level TAKS Tests on the academic side to provide some kind of clarity. But, it is imperative to note that we collectively lack ANY effective measurements for the behavioral side of this equation. In the end, the education “system” should reach as many students as humanly possible. And so far, the Phoenix Academy model is among the most successful sustained models anywhere.

end

_______________________________________________________________________________ Prepared by: Derly Andre Tijerina, Independent Consultant

10


Table of Contents

Executive Summary: Memo to Texas RE: Alternative Education

1

Dropouts

2

Texas Public School Reports

P-16 Committee Presentation – Sam Houston State Univ.

Impact of Poverty on Education

Effects of Poverty Working with Students and Adults from Poverty

Educating beyond Irritating Behaviors The Problem

Teaching with Poverty in Mind

Sociology of Families – Brines 2006

The Solution

iNACOL

A+Learning System

The Shanker Institute

 

Make Special Ed “Special” Again

Concerted Cultivation Social Class and Family Life

On-line Learning The Convergence of Online and Face-to-Face Education

C Computer t Based B dC Curriculum i l (CBC) Comprehensive Description

+

Systems View for Planning

Capacity Building as P.D. The Imperative for Professional Development in Education

NAEA Exemplary Practices in Alt Ed

Best Practices In Alt Ed Indicators of Quality Programming

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

Template p &

Model

Legacy of Success: Pathfinders Comments from Superintendents

Program Evaluation Data 2008 - 2011

10


Table of Contents

Executive Summary: Memo to Texas RE: Alternative Education

1

2

Dropouts

3

4

The Proble m

5 On-line Learning

C Computer t Based B dC Curriculum i l (CBC)

Capacity Building as P.D.

Best Practices In Alt Ed

Legacy of Success: Pathfinders

6

7

8

9

10


Table of Contents

Executive Summary: Memo to Texas RE: Alternative Education

1

2

Effects of Poverty 3

4 The Problem

5 On-line Learning

C Computer t Based B dC Curriculum i l (CBC)

Capacity Building as P.D.

Best Practices In Alt Ed

Legacy of Success: Pathfinders

6

7

8

9

10


SHORT STORY: [‌in order to alter the potential effects of generational poverty‌] Students need: 1) direct-teach, 2) relationships, and 3) an environment that teaches coping skills.


Table of Contents

Executive Summary: Memo to Texas RE: Alternative Education

1

2

Educating beyond Irritating Behaviors

3

4 The Problem

5 On-line Learning

C Computer t Based B dC Curriculum i l (CBC)

Capacity Building as P.D.

Best Practices In Alt Ed

Legacy of Success: Pathfinders

6

7

8

9

10


SHORT STORY: Poverty affects behavior in specific ways.


SHORT STORY: We are setting up students for failure when we stretch Special Ed services to include “behavioral disorders� that do NOT warrant accommodations in the workforce. workforce Coping skills within a public school setting are necessary for long term success. MOST damaging is a lowered expectation for behavior, which must be addressed with learned responses to stress(es) in the environment.


Table of Contents

Executive Summary: Memo to Texas RE: Alternative Education

1

2

3

4

5 On-line Learning

C Computer t Based B dC Curriculum i l (CBC)

Concerted Cultivation

Capacity Building as P.D.

Best Practices In Alt Ed

Legacy of Success: Pathfinders

6

7

8

9

10


Table of Contents

Executive Summary: Memo to Texas RE: Alternative Education

1

Dropouts

2

Effects of Poverty

3

Educating beyond Irritating Behaviors

4

On-line Learning

Concerted Cultivation

5

6

7

8 Best Practices In Alt Ed

Legacy of Success: Pathfinders

9

10


Table of Contents

Executive Summary: Memo to Texas RE: Alternative Education

1

Dropouts

2

Effects of Poverty

3

Educating beyond Irritating Behaviors

4

Computer Based Curriculum (CBC)

Concerted Cultivation

5

6

7

8 Best Practices In Alt Ed

9 Legacy of Success: Pathfinders

10


Table of Contents

Executive Summary: Memo to Texas RE: Alternative Education

1

Dropouts

2

Effects of Poverty

3

Educating beyond Irritating Behaviors

4

Capacity Building as P.D.

Concerted Cultivation

5

6

7

8 Best Practices In Alt Ed

Legacy of Success: Pathfinders

9

10


SHORT STORY: “Improvement” implies a coherent system in which measurements are recorded. New work is done and a second measurement is concluded. Then, the “system” attempts to deliberately alter the measurement measurement. Schools / school-systems / school-people are not prepared for the process and (most likely) missing skills, concepts, work habits and practice patterns that make real changes conceivable (but NOT quite impossible).


Table of Contents

Executive Summary: Memo to Texas RE: Alternative Education

1

Dropouts

2

Effects of Poverty

3

Educating beyond Irritating Behaviors

4

Concerted Cultivation

On-line Learning

C Computer t Based B dC Curriculum i l (CBC)

Capacity Building as P.D.

Best Practices in Alt Ed Legacy of Success: Pathfinders

5

6

7

8

9

10


Table of Contents

Executive Summary: Memo to Texas RE: Alternative Education

1

Dropouts

2

Effects of Poverty

3

Educating beyond Irritating Behaviors

4

Concerted Cultivation

On-line Learning

C Computer t Based B dC Curriculum i l (CBC)

Capacity Building as P.D.

Legacy of Success:

P hfi d Pathfinders 2004 2009 2004-2009

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6

7

8

9

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sWs - 01 Memo-2-Texas: AlternativeEducation vs. Dropouts