Puzzle of Practice

Michael J. Petrides had two main sources of pressure that created an important reflection and pivot point. The first source was the Quality Review (QR) process that schools go through as part of the New York City accountability system. The QR has as part of its process, a requirement to show student work. The school noticed that the types of work and expectation of work was vastly different from class to class even in the same grade level.

The other source of pressure was that teachers were not confident and solid on the expectations of work based on the standards in their subject area. This was further compounded by an over-reliance on the textbooks as the driver of lessons and learning. These sources created an overall lack of clarity of where students are expected to be in any given grade level or subject. In addition, there was not a common understanding of what students should know, be able to do, and the related work that can show evidence of learning.

Collective Goal

Petrides began its work by first coming to a common and shared belief that ALL students can learn, that they must be appropriately challenged with clear expectations, and that proper scaffolding will allow students to successfully make gains toward the overall target.

The next major learning goal was to bring student voice into the conversation of the school. Meaning, the School set the target of placing a value and expectation that students be able to talk about and share where they are in their learning, what they can do to continue to improve, and how their voice can be a major part of the feedback vehicle for not only students, but for teachers, teacher teams, and the leadership team. The School further expanded this learning goal to make it an expectation that students be partners with the teachers in their learning.

The QR process uncovered an important need/question for the school, that is, how can students be placed at the center of the learning journey? The other important factor that compelled the School to look at their situation in a fresh and different way was that students only had this one chance and one school to accomplish their learning and preparation. Since Petrides is preK-12, these students know no other school. If the School and the students don’t get it right it can have serious consequences for the students. As Petrides undertook the journey to make students the center, to value students in the process, and to engage the students in true formative work, they had to deepen their own understanding about learning, assessment, standards, and formative processes. The School wanted to dive into this work because they wanted to SEE and HEAR students do the work, be able to describe their current levels of understanding, and be able to articulate what is needed to advance to the next level of successful understanding.

Collective Action

The Core Collaborative and the team at Petrides co-constructed seven steps to success.

1. Unpacking the Standards
Petrides started their multi-year work in Impact Teams by first working on developing a deep understanding of the Standards using the Unpacking for Success Protocol. Teams unpacked key priority standards and worked to build a common understanding of the expectations and student work that would show proficient mastery.

2. Generate Learning Intentions and Success Criteria
The School then generated Learning Intentions and Success Criteria to further build the common expectation for students by having clear and coherent targets.

3. Teacher Clarity
The early stages of these efforts helped the staff see the cyclical nature of building better clarity in their understanding which in turn created greater clarity in the work the students were able to do.

4. Student, Self, and Peer Assessment
The School then used the student work to analyze what students were able to do in the space of Self and Peer Assessment.

5. Re-Drafting Learning Intentions and Success Criteria
This analysis resulted in an even deeper under-standing of the standards and targets which resulted in re-drafting of the Learning Intentions and Success Criteria.

6. Develop Student Voice
The School then focused on developing the voice of students to be able to name and identify the strategies they use and can use to support and accelerate their learning.

7. Expansion
The School centered their early work in the Middle Grades as their anchor location. After consistent training and focus they then expanded “up” into the high school grades and “down” into the elementary grades.

Collective Impact

Data from state tests indicated steady gains in both English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics over the span from 2016 too 2019:

  • ELA – the number of students scoring 3 or 4 on the State Test increased 14%
  • Mathematics – the number of students scoring 3 or 4 on the State test increased 10%

In ELA as well as Mathematics, Petrides School performed higher than both a New York City “Comparison Group” of similar schools and the City as a whole.

Download the white paper to view the data and read more of Petrides story.