Springfield (KMTR) - Incoming freshmen in the Springfield School District are in for a whole new experience this fall. It's one piece of the district's specific goals to help all students be college- and career-ready by the time they graduate.
One of those goals is to better prepare 9th graders for high school. To do that, the district is taking a team approach starting this fall. A team of three to four teachers will share the same group of 90 to 120 freshman students. Each student’s teacher for core subjects—English, Social Studies and Science—will work together, meet regularly, and communicate consistently about how each freshman is doing. “So for you as a parent, the interface you're going to have is with a team of teachers so the consistency of conversation, of expectation, is across the student's day,” explained Matt Coleman, director of secondary education for the school district.
Coleman says studies show that the best predictor of whether students will graduate is how they do in their freshman year. “There are a number of kids who will trip a little bit in 9th grade who are not going to fall through the cracks, who are not going to drop out, but because of their 9th grade experience, it sets them off on a trajectory that's not going to land them where they could. So that 9th grade year is highly predictive. Not only of dropouts, but also where kids will finish four years later as they walk across the stage; what kinds of options they'll have available to them.”
School district leaders say this team-targeted approach is not an easy change to make. It takes a lot of dedication and commitment by the teachers. This new structure is being paid for by a grant the district received in 2010.
This fall, Springfield and Thurston High Schools will also be on the same class schedule. That will create more opportunities for students, by allowing them to take classes at their neighboring school which are not offered at their home school. It will also give them more opportunities to earn college credits before graduating from high school.