To support shared decision making and ensure that neighborhoods are integrated

To support shared decision making and ensure that

This preview shows page 188 - 190 out of 201 pages.

To support shared decision making and ensure that neighborhoods are integrated into the larger context of the whole school, staff members unanimously approved a governance model that includes many committees representing all school community members, including a site council consisting of parents, school staff members, and community members. It serves as school-community liaison on matters of school reform, improvement, and fiscal management of grants. Unit 4 - Page 188
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Results The dropout rate for the 2001–2002 school year was 3.2 percent, one of the lowest in the state; for the 2002–2003 year, the rate dropped to 1.3 percent from an anticipated 5. 8 percent. State assessment results have shown gains in all areas (e.g., in 2003, 77 percent of students met or exceeded standards, up from 45 percent the previous year). Southridge has met Adequate Yearly Progress standards in 60 areas, including Hispanic, African American, IEP, and ELL students. Southridge was named an Exemplary Smaller Learning Communities site by the U.S. Department of Education and has been recognized throughout Oregon for its accomplishments in developing smaller learning communities. Conclusion Boly has noticed quite a change from the first year with the Critical Friends Groups having been implemented for three years. One is that staff members feel comfortable laying their issues on the table where they can be discussed. "They can say openly, I feel disrespected," says Boly. "This is how trust is built." Critical Friends has empowered teachers to make decisions on their own. Vice Principal Amy Gordon reflects, "Empowering people fosters a sense of ownership. Sometimes I hear something I don't want to hear, but the process keeps everyone honest— there is a lot of communication, which is the key." One might be tempted to dismiss Southridge's accomplishments because the school serves a highly educated community, was designed "from the ground up" with strong community and district support, and staff members were hired based on their common vision of schooling. True, these conditions greatly facilitated success at Southridge, but they are not sufficient. Most important is a leadership approach that empowers others to share in decision making. This is no easy task, of course, but Southridge's path to success can be instructive for other schools seeking to implement smaller learning communities for students and staff members. Students consistently report in focus groups that Southridge is a positive environment where, according to one pupil, "The power to impact school action, thus the community, has allowed me to express my interests and make a difference." This sentiment is shared by staff and community members, and it was earned through hard work and an abiding vision and expectation about what people can accomplish when they are empowered to make decisions.
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  • Fall '10
  • JamesYoung
  • Educational Psychology, 21st century, Learning Guide, Learning Sciences International

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