Updated: Jul 27, 2018
Hundreds of students, teachers and families celebrate early gains in student achievement resulting from new SAISD partnership
Written by: Ixchell Gonzalez, Ogden Elementary School Principal
Transformations happen, and they happen every day at Ogden Elementary School. Our formula: focus and hard work.
We’ve done everything differently this year. We brought in a new partner to rethink learning for our children and our teachers - Relay Graduate School of Education. As a result, we have seen transformation after transformation - in our scholars, our staff and the amount and level of learning we have achieved.
An Innovative Partnership Shows Promising Signs for Positive Turnaround
One year ago, I shared with our Ogden community the changes our school would undergo for the year. In the school’s fourth year of “improvement required” status, we knew that there would be significant changes we needed to make to get our school and our scholars on the right path. We also knew it would take lots of hope and hard work.
We announced that, in partnership with Relay Graduate School of Education, we would reimagine Ogden as a personalized learning academy for both teacher development and student achievement. Our mission was reset to prepare scholars for success for college and career. With that end goal in mind, we set our sights on transformation for everyone at our school.
We started with how we were spending our time. Our students experience a longer school day that results in the equivalent of 16 additional days of learning. We created a daily schedule that allows for 3 hours of literacy and 60+ minutes of math. We spend at least three hours every single Friday on teacher professional development. We spent time collecting student data, analyzing it and pushing rigorous instruction based on that data.
We then focused on what our students were learning. Now, our scholars engage in research-based curricula that focus on literacy and math. We created small groups with placing two teachers in a classroom, with a Relay Resident (an apprentice teacher) in every classroom learning from a Master Teacher.
We then focused on the systems and routines that we know need to be in place for adults and students to create an environment of learning.
I’ve Seen the Transformation in Our Scholars
As I reflect upon the progress of our first year, we have dozens of scholar stories that highlight Ogden’s progress. We set high expectations, and scholars and teachers rose to the challenge. We have dozens of stories like that of one fifth grader who had never passed a state assessment, but is now on track academically.
We have a fourth grader who struggled in third grade at Ogden because of behavior. This scholar is incredibly smart, but she spent a significant amount of time out of class. This year, she spent every instructional minute in class; she did not receive a single discipline referral, and I have heard her talk passionately about how she loves school. With dedicated and loving teachers, rigorous curricula and strong structures, we were able to reset school culture and create an environment dedicated to learning. Now this fourth grader is hooked on school.
At the end of last year, before the new Ogden, I polled students about their school experience. One sixth grader, Maritza, shared that she was not challenged in class. She had always performed academically, and I knew she would likely do well. I also knew that we might lose her if she was not challenged. Part of curricular changes at Ogden include implementing a personalized, blended learning model. Six weeks into the school year, a district administrator shadowed Maritza for a day and they gathered her honest feedback and saw the school day through her eyes. She shared that she loved the new blended learning model and she already felt the changes at the school. She shared that while she knew she might be able to go to a different school, she wanted to stay at Ogden because she is being challenged.
Promising Progress for Dramatic Turnaround
I see transformation in our kids, our parents and our staff - we also have our sights set on transforming our quantifiable results. While final STAAR data has not yet been released, preliminary results (coupled with our anecdotal scholar stories) demonstrate significant progress resulting from the innovative partnership with Relay:
We are building a culture of high expectations and rigorous learning environment for all scholars
Our goal this year for STAAR was to make growth. First round STAAR results for our Ogden 5th Graders saw a 13-point gain in math and a 16-point gain in reading
Ogden experienced double-digit gains in performance on End of Year MAP growth scores for all grades
Transformation is challenging but possible. We could not have made this progress without the commitment of our scholars, the support of our families, the dedication of our teachers and residents, the partnership between Relay and SAISD and the support of our community partners like City Education Partners, a San Antonio education non-profit.
Marcelino Castillo, one of our parents at Ogden, is proud of what his daughter Sophia has accomplished this year, and he has seen firsthand her renewed love of learning and great improvements.
“Ogden is close to my heart, because it is where I went to school. Although I was skeptical at first of all the changes that were going to happen at Ogden, I know that all these changes were for the positive. My daughter now tells me she wants to be a dentist. And, she tells me that she has to go to college to be a dentist. The college-ready mindset is part of their everyday language. The school is truly preparing our children for the path of college and for life.”
Next year, Relay Lab Schools Texas and San Antonio Independent School District will replicate this innovative partnership at Storm Elementary, which will be designated, like Ogden, as a teaching and learning lab school. Storm will also offer a program that features a strong focus on literacy and math, individualized learning and a master teacher and Relay Resident in every classroom...and lots of focus and hard work.
For me, our school is a place that shows that transformation is possible for everyone - our children, our staff and our campus - but most importantly, our future as a community and a city.