Saturday, January 30, 2010

High Expectations = Achievement

This week I really challenged my Career Explorations class. Over the course of the week students completed a college comparison webquest, began to fill out their FAFSA, started ACT and Acuplacer prep within our class, and completed their initial brainstorming for their personal biography. What impressed me most was not what my "at-risk" students had completed in class but what they had initiated on their own outside of school hours due to the expectations that had been set within the class. After a week of discussing how they wanted to live their lives and how education was the key to obtaining the standard of living that they desired, the students took some big steps in preparing for their future. These students who had seen very little success in the "general education" setting were now talking about college and taking the ACT. Discussion had spread home where they were asking their parents when they would file their taxes so they could complete FAFSA. Students were not only completing applications for various college's and trade schools but were even setting up appointments to meet with officials from the schools. Prior to this week many of these students had very little direction and were quite confused about what graduating from high school would bring. This really made me think about my students and the low expectations that may have previously been put on them. Had anyone ever encouraged them to think about college? Had their lack of prior success lead them to believe that college was not an option? Did other teachers as well as parents believe in them?
In order for schools to reach each and every student and strive for academic and social success we must establish high expectations for all students every day and provide the support necessary for them to achieve these expectations. How can we do this? We must begin by working to improve academic achievement through clear expectations and encouragement from all stakeholders. We must encourage student, teacher, parent, and administrator participation. The most powerful way we can meet the high expectations within our buildings is through the personal relationships we develop with the students. If students do not see adults that believe they can achieve then why should they?


  1. I have recently experienced exactly what Mr. Erwin was discussing earlier regarding the ACT and college decisions for at-risk students. At the high schooll where I am principal, we were able to use the DEA online ACT predictor test to show some at-risk students how well they would do if they took the ACT. Then we signed them up for the ACT and ask the board for reimbursement for them if they took the test. Our school board is going to pay for each junior to take the test one time. These students were floored to see their predictor score. We also designated the Wednesday before each Saturday ACT test day as our official ACT prep day. We pamper the students with breakfast and lunch while they work on the online test, get ready for the test by having teachers drop in to share strategies and content suggestions. This is done on our early release Wednesdays so students are not missing full classes. After our first Wednesday prep day, 2/3 of our students raised their ACT score! Good luck Sean! Keep up the good work at Lindbergh!!!

  2. Sean,
    You make a difference EVERY day with your students! I'm glad you are challenging them to break out of their "zone" and head down the education's the best road!