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ERIC Number: EJ916318
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Jan
Pages: 3
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 3
ISSN: ISSN-1529-8957
Focus on 15%
McCartan, Conn
Principal Leadership, v11 n5 p44-46 Jan 2011
When reforming practices to help all students succeed, secondary school leaders face the unique challenge of aligning the efforts of educators from different disciplines. In addition, they know that few common measures capture student growth across these disciplines. If a school has a history of success, a deep examination of its practices may not seem necessary. And if the school is large, those challenges are magnified. Those challenges certainly faced the educators at Eden Prairie (MN) High School when they started the 2009-10 school year. But by focusing on a select group of students in every single classroom in their school, they took an important step forward in aligning their work to affect teacher practice and student success. They called this effort "Focus on 15%." In every class, there is a group of students who do not perform as well as others. They believed that if each teacher focused on the performance of the students who had the lowest course marks in their class, it would serve as the high-leverage solution to improving the performance of all their students. They asked all teachers to identify the lowest-achieving 15% of students in their classes as measured by grade percentage at the three-week mark of the term. Although those students were different in every class, they observed that disproportionate numbers of Black and minority students were struggling. Teachers chose the instructional practices they would use to reach the common goal of having every one of their identified students improve by one grade increment (e.g., C to C+) by the end of the nine-week term. Teams of course-alike teachers met in professional learning team at the three-, six-, and nine-week marks to discuss the instructional strategies that resulted in student-grade improvement. High-yield strategies, such as technology integration and National Urban Alliance strategies, were amplified and replicated across the system by sharing them in large staff meetings. By focusing on the practices and systems that teachers knew well (i.e., course grades and means of improving student performance), they were able to have all staff members involved in a common improvement initiative. Their Focus on 15% plan has proved to be the high-leverage solution they sought. It has energized every one of their classroom teachers.
National Association of Secondary School Principals. 1904 Association Drive, Reston, VA 20191-1537. Tel: 800-253-7746; Tel: 703-860-0200; Fax: 703-620-6534; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: Teachers; Administrators
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A