Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Research and Development - Student Growth

Today I would like to share with you observations I made about student growth while visiting Mosaic Elementary School in San Jose, CA.  Student growth is discussed.  Student growth is celebrated.  Student growth is visible.  Student growth is expected.  Student growth is communicated with parents.  

Student growth is discussed.  The school day at Mosaic Elementary begins with a school wide gathering they call Launch.  During Launch, student growth is discussed and referred to as the school addresses the NWEA assessments some grades are taking that day and relate it to a school core value of persistence.  A teacher at the Launch said, "I'm so excited to see your scores."  Parents are aware of the schools overall rating on a state scoring system and can share with visitors the goal for this years rating number.  Student growth is discussed with monthly learning goals and tiny daily goals in each classroom. 

Student growth is celebrated daily through song and praise at a morning Launch.  Through the school creed where everything mentioned leads to student growth if followed.  The school has a list of Core Values; persistence, responsibility, empathy, respect, and multiculturalism which all celebrate growth as students are recognized for exhibiting these qualities in and outside of school.  Parents we talked to radiated with pride in their school and ownership for the success their school has had in the first 16 months of it's existence.  Student growth is celebrated with completed charts of learning goals met with stickers.

Student growth is visible.  SMART goals are written and posted in the hallway by a teacher's lounge/workroom area.  Boards in each classroom were filled with ranges for their NEWA assessment they take three times a year and students each had something with their name that was posted within a range to show where they currently are.  In one room, student goals for math were posted at each seat and progress was noted as the child obtained it. 

Student growth is expected.  Loud and clear we heard the message students will achieve 1.5 years of progress in one year.  The SMART goals were written with high percentages.  The school is fostering a college prep environment.  Each classroom is named after their teacher's college mascot.  College flags inside and outside the school.  Fifth graders defend a thesis.  Administration said, "They all know they are going to college."

Student growth is communicated to parents on a regular reporting basis via report cards.  I gathered the parents are constantly involved at the school, with the school and easily hear about their child's growth.  

I was also asked to reflect during my trip.  When it comes to student growth I've never been comfortable with posting student progress on a board in the room for everyone to see the range, specifically those not meeting expectations.  Is this necessary?  What does this type of practice foster?   Does this make a difference for each child?  I think the results Mosaic Elementary have been able to obtain are great.  They are a young, very young school and I wonder will this maintain over time and/or does it maintain for the student's once they leave Mosaic?  I also wonder if the student growth has been obtainable because the teaching practice here is workshop based with a combination of computer program work.  Are these two things new to these students?  I don't know much about the CA school system but from what I gathered their public school system is not doing well which sent these families to a charter school program.  If you have any thoughts about my reflections please share with me.  I think it will help me process what I saw and how I can internalize that for my own project. 


  1. The college thing makes me a little queasy. Do they teach the kids about alternatives to traditional four-year colleges, which is sounds like they're heavily promoting? I'm an advocate of life-long learning, but not necessarily of higher education for everyone. What if they're interested in a career that doesn't require that?

  2. I did not get the impression alternatives to college are discussed at all. I think college is viewed as an opportunity.

  3. Huh. It's an interesting approach. I'm having a discussion on facebook right now with a professor from my college, some of her colleagues, and some current students about retention rates, college expectations, etc. One thing we talked about was how high school to college to grad school to job was an expectation of a certain social class. I just worry that the kids will see any kind of job that doesn't require college as "bad"