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The Family Model’s Flexible

Grouping  

 

BY ANN CLARK

After reading The Strategic School: Making the Most of People, Time, and Money by Karen Hawley Miles and Stephen Frank, Principal Tonya Kales realized she needed to work with her team at Ashley Park PreK-8 School to think more strategically about the use of her most precious resources — people, time and money.

Kales, an educator with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C., Schools for 20 years, was committed to creating a school culture where all of the adults were responsible for all of the children. In her first year, for example, students in 3rd grade were not assigned to a specific 3rd-grade teacher. Instead, the team of 3rd-grade teachers owned the entire group of 3rd graders.

The so-called family model was adopted by Ashley Park in 2009-10. It is built on the goal of reducing a teacher’s isolation in a classroom with a set of students all year while providing the students with opportunities to be grouped continuously with different students and teachers depending on the skill or concept being taught and the student’s level of mastery of the topic.

Ashley Park’s family model is now used at another strategic staffing school in the district and ensures all students get what they need through a push-in model. The family model schedules English as a second language teachers, special education teachers, literacy and math facilitators and tutors in classrooms as a team with groups of students ranging in size from one to 30, depending on the skill mastery of the students.

The results now speak for themselves. After two years, the students have moved from 52 to 60 percent proficiency in mathematics and 37 to 46 percent proficiency in reading. More importantly, more than 75 percent of the students at Ashley Park made over a year’s worth of academic growth during the 2010-11 school year.

Clearly, this is the level of continued gains it will take for Kales to achieve her goal of 90 percent proficiency in reading and math for her school. 

 

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