Model Programs and Practices

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Model Programs and Practices - Robert C. Cooley Middle School

Robert C. Cooley Middle School has multiple model programs and practices in place to ensure student learning, engagement, and behavior.  The cornerstone practices that we have implemented over the past few years are The House Model, Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS), and the Intervention Team.  Each of these systems is closely monitored to help ensure student success.

These programs are distinguished within our district in multiple ways.  First, we are the only middle school in our school district that has implemented a House Model. The House Model is now being looked at by the other middle schools in our district to better understand how this has worked so well for us.  Some are looking at how to implement a similar model at their sites to improve student engagement and learning.

PBIS was first implemented eight years ago at Robert C. Cooley Middle School.  We were one of the first schools in our district to do so. Our school has significantly enhanced this program since its inception by changing the ways in which we teach student behavior and expectations, report and track data, and recognize students.  With these changes, we have been leaders in our district with this program.

Our Intervention Team was formed six years ago.  The Intervention Team has been the catalyst for connecting student behavior, student academics, and student interventions all in one.  District teams, school teams within the district, and outside districts and schools have often come to observe our Intervention Team meetings in action.  This one team helps tie all of these models and systems together. Ultimately our school and district are moving to a Multi-tiered System of Support (MTSS) model.  We are confident that our existing model practices in place will easily transition into our new MTSS model. Our plan is to start our implementation of the new MTSS model in April of 2019.

House Model

At Robert C. Cooley Middle School our students are placed in “Houses”.  A House is a team of content area teachers sharing common students. Houses meet twice each month.  During these meetings, teachers discuss students and create supports for students with academic, behavior, and social-emotional challenges.  Houses also problem solve ways to intervene with students by name and by need. Some Houses choose to use a portion of their meeting time for All Teacher Conferences (ATC) with parents.  Houses use a Student Support Form (SSF) for students with challenges that prevent success in any area. The SSF offers teachers a format for recording new ideas and implementation timeframes that are used for each student discussed.  When all intervention strategies are implemented with fidelity on the SSF, the House will consult with our Intervention Team Leader and Special Education Teachers for more strategies or next steps.

Houses at Cooley Middle School allow us to divide up teaching teams in each grade level.  Each grade level has two houses (House A & House B). Each house has four to six teachers.  These teachers instruct the same students as a team in all content areas. Each House is comprised of 150 to 180 students, and the teachers are responsible for ensuring the success of the students in the House.  Houses allow teachers to focus on a smaller number of students and monitor their academic progress as a team rather than trying to keep track of 300+ students as individual teachers. Teachers work together as a team to implement learning, behavior, and social-emotional strategies for students in their House.  The House Model is successful because if one teacher finds a learning and or behavior solution for a student, the other teachers can implement the same or similar strategy. Houses provide a way to meet the needs of all students by creating smaller teams of teachers who are able to support students more efficiently and effectively because of the structure of the House system.  We have been better able to serve students who need support because of disabilities, socio-economic status, ethnicity, English learner status, foster and homeless youth challenges, our LGBTQ population, and other factors for which a student could need support.

Teachers in a House hold an ATC for parents of students who are having challenges being successful.  This is a meeting where all teachers meet with parent(s) to discuss academic/behavior/social-emotional goals, student supports that will be put into place, and how student progress will be monitored and communicated between the student and parent(s).  An ATC form is completed during this meeting to document the intervention plan for the student.

Other students may need interventions within the House, but an ATC may not be the solution for that student.  Teachers can meet to strategize on how to best support these students. For these meetings, the House will complete a Student Support Form (SSF) that outlines interventions teachers will have in place for four to six weeks as well as outlining overall student performance.  Houses will discuss student progress for these students every two weeks to monitor their progress along with students who had an ATC as explained above.

The House Model helps achieve our district’s Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) by supporting Goal #1 – RCSD students will meet or exceed grade-level standards.

Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS)

Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) model was introduced to Cooley Middle School eight years ago.  Over time we have changed how teachers access the behavior reporting system, updated how students receive information about behavior and reinvented our student recognition system.

Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) replaced our former “discipline plan” of “student misbehavior = punishment.” PBIS, first introduced to our school by Placer County Office of Education in conjunction with the University of Oregon and with our district’s support is our proactive approach to establishing the behavioral supports and the social culture needed for all students to achieve academic, behavioral, and social-emotional success. Attention is focused on creating and sustaining universal (school-wide), indicated (small group), and selective (individual) systems of support that improve results for all students by explicitly teaching the school-wide expectations for behavior, building positive adult-student relationships, and creating a school culture where misbehavior is seen as ineffective by students and the desired, positive behavior is valued by students.  In the past, school-wide discipline focused mainly on reacting to specific student misbehavior by implementing punishment-based strategies. We know from research that punishment is ineffective, especially when used inconsistently and without positive strategies. Positive social behavior is an important component of a student’s educational experience, and explicitly teaching, modeling, and reinforcing the expected behavior has given us data that demonstrates the success of this process. Teaching behavioral expectations and recognizing students for following them is a much more effective approach than waiting for misbehavior to occur before responding. The purpose of school-wide PBIS is to establish a school culture in which appropriate behavior is the norm and where staff-student relationships are positive.

Our PBIS team has researched all the important areas of campus and what acceptable behavior should look like.  We present this in a matrix that is shared with the students in their school handbook. Each designated “area” and the expected behavior in the matrix is also taught by our teachers at the beginning of the year as well as re-taught during “CREW” – Cooley Rules Emphasis Week – multiple times throughout the year.  As a supplement to the matrix, teachers, and students have created videos to help students visualize what acceptable behavior on campus looks like.

Teachers at Robert C. Cooley Middle school submit “behavior reports” online.  This data automatically updates to a database so that as a staff we can more effectively focus on behaviors, areas and time(s) of the day that need to be targeted.  The data also directs our focus to specific students who may need more support from us academically, behaviorally or socially-emotionally. These students are flagged in the system by our Intervention Team leader and put on our agenda for the next Intervention Team meeting.

Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is referenced in our district’s Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) by supporting Goal #3 – RCSD will create and maintain safe and positive school cultures.

Intervention Team

With Robert C. Cooley Middle School’s Houses in place, it became clear that we needed a Tier 2 and 3 Intervention Team for our school site when students needed additional academic,  behavioral, and social-emotional beyond what the House team of teachers provide. Houses are successful at addressing Tier 1 and most Tier 2 student needs within a smaller population of students, but when students struggle in multiple academic, behavioral, and social-emotional areas, the problem becomes more complex.  It was evident that Cooley had many supports in place to assist students; however, many of the supports were uncoordinated. We created a formal Intervention Team to quickly and effectively assist struggling students. The Intervention Team lets us intentionally prescribe specific interventions for any student with Tier 2 or 3 academic, behavioral, or social-emotional needs.  Our Intervention Team is an intensive team that problem solves to help students succeed. The team meets twice a month and is comprised of the following members: Principal, Assistant Principals, Intervention Lead, Resource Teachers, School Psychologist, and Counselor.

Students that are in need of additional supports are identified in a number of ways.  One way is from the House. After a House has worked with a student for eight weeks with their own interventions and has not made significant progress with the student, the student is referred to the Intervention Team for additional supports.  Another way students are identified is through our PBIS data. Students with four or more behavior reports in a month are discussed at the Intervention Team meeting to evaluate if more supports are needed. Lastly, students may be brought to the Intervention Team at the request of the school administration or counseling staff.

The Intervention Team determines the types of additional interventions a student may need to become successful.  The team uses their collective knowledge and expertise to advise teachers, PLCs, or Houses on next steps to implement within the classroom.  Some interventions could be within the school structure, and other interventions can be supports provided by outside agencies. We work closely with families during the Intervention Team process. The Intervention Team is committed to identifying student needs and focused on how to implement supports for each student.  The team may also put strategies in place for the student such as Check-In/Check-Out, new SSF goals, student contracts, incentives, campus support from various staff, or placement within Bridges (a smaller academic/behavioral/social-emotional intensive environment).

The Intervention Team contributes to our district’s Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) by supporting the following goals:

Goal #1 – RCSD students will meet or exceed grade-level standards

Goal #3 – RCSD will create and maintain safe and positive school cultures.