River Jim’s Adventure Education
Willows Intermediate School (WIS) is currently in year three of Program Improvement (P1 3). Data from the State of California indicates that the schools subgroups of low socio-economic and Hispanic students have not met their targets on standardized tests three years in a row which is not uncommon in traditional schools struggling with the so called "achievement gap."
Prior to the breakdown of subgroups, life was good in the eyes of administration as certain subgroups carried the load, but subgroup data exposed that we are not meeting the needs of many students in our school. School and district administrators are trying to implement classroom practices they believe will turn around the decline of underperforming students but the bottom line is that we are not meeting the needs of these students in the way we address their education.
Willows Intermediate School is a traditional school with the most common teaching practice being direct instruction. Hattie (2009) gives direct instruction an effect size of 0.59, so as our leaders attempt to improve direct instruction, they might see some improvement, but are not likely to enjoy the transformative change they seek unless we also address the teacher-student relationship, the social-emotional needs of adolescents, and current neuroscience of how the adolescent brain works.