Flagstaff Unified Middle Schools Create Academic Intervention Program to Ensure Students Are Prepared for High School
Flagstaff, AZ | Submitted by Karin Eberhard
It was hard to work into the daily schedule, but it has been worth it. Six years ago, the team at Sinagua Middle School in Flagstaff Unified School District recognized that not all of their students were making it to high school with the skills that they needed to be successful, so they created a robust monitoring and intervention program to catch students’ challenges early. The district’s elementary schools were already seeing great success with their intervention programs, so it only made sense to continue the effort as students progressed.
The school made interventions possible by creating “interest pathways” that each student could integrate into their daily schedule. These pathways included everything from German to interior design. Throughout the year, each teacher closely monitored student progress and test scores in order to identify those who may need additional instruction time. When they do, those students use their pathway time to receive guidance in whatever subject needs practice, whether it’s math, English language arts, social studies or science. Thanks to this unique approach, students who need additional support get two hours per week of instruction in whichever subject has been identified as a challenge.
At Mount Elden Middle School, also part of Flagstaff Unified School District, educators are taking a different approach. A different bell schedule required a different solution to academic interventions, so faculty offer assistance during lunch and after school. During the regular school day, students who need tutoring are assigned to attend the Math Lab and work to learn what they need to know. For those who need help in any subject, educators are available after school to help with homework, test prep, and more.
In the coming year, they’ll even be piloting a block math schedule, in which students attend one class to intervene at the individual’s skill level, and the other to provide them the standard middle school math instruction.
Both schools have been successful in implementing these intervention programs and ensuring that students learn the skills they need to for application in high school. And both continue to refine and improve their efforts.
To aid in effectiveness, both schools are helping teachers with their own professional development. Students who participate in the interventions are more successful in the next grade and half do not fail another course. In fact, by the second semester of the school year, close to half of students no longer require intervention. It’s also helping families to be more supportive and proactive. High school administrators have noted that they don’t need to offer as many remedial classes; it makes the work worth it to know that students are able to master the concepts before they move on.