GREEN RIVER—During the 2016-17 school year, Green River High School implemented a new schedule in which one hour and 49 minutes on Friday afternoons is allotted for students to receive specialized education in subjects they are struggling in.
The nearly two hour chunk of time is known as interventions. Any student with a D or F in a class, or by teacher request, are assigned to interventions to work on learning or relearning the material, and make up any work to improve their grade.
The kids who do not have a failing grade get Friday afternoon off. This works as an incentive to motivate kids to focus on their grades and studies.
Before the 2016-17 school year, a similar program was in place, but the period was scheduled between fourth period and lunch. Students with a failing grade were assigned to the 22-minute period, while students with passing grades got an hour-long lunch period.
GRHS principal Darren Howard said the school had several goals with the transition to Friday afternoons. With the larger chunk of time, the school hoped it would allow for more intensive teaching.
To view Howard’s presentation, click here.
Goals for Interventions
The intended goals for the interventions period included the teachers being more efficient and intentional with their time, while also being more strategic and intensive.
Howard also said they hoped the extended period would allow teachers to co-teach, as well as provide more one on one time with students.
With travel for activities, and over 80 percent of the student body being involved in extracurricular activities, students often have to leave school early on Fridays. Howard said a goal for the interventions period was to reduce academic time missed.
Another goal for the longer period was to allow more time for labs and project-based assignments primarily in arts, vocational, and science classes.
Lastly, the school hoped that the Friday interventions would allow the Building Interventions Team (BIT), a group of faculty members, to more easily identify at risk students or students who are consistently struggling.
Once they identify a student, they can intervene and work to improve the student’s learning experience.
Is Interventions Working?
According to Howard, the move to Friday afternoons has been successful so far, but a lot of work still needs to be done to meet their goals.
In a semester, there was a 34 percent reduction in the number of D’s, and a 10.5 percent reduction in the number of F’s.
The achievement gap between the school’s graduation rates and grade point averages in comparison to test results, like on the ACT for example, is fairly large.
In 2017, the graduation rate was 92.36 percent, while the average ACT score was about 19.3, which sits just below or at the state average.
Howard believes with better one on one attention and more strategic teaching, the school can keep the graduation rate high, but close the achievement gap.
With the recent addition of WYTOPP testing, and the building of professional learning communities (PLC), Howard believes teachers will be able to identify the needs of students, and will then be able to be more strategic with their lessons.
Howard said the teachers are going a great job with co-teaching, especially in the Special Education, PE, Math, Science, and Vocational areas.
School Board Response
Trustee Mark Sanders asked Howard if students are really given an opportunity to make up work and change their grade, or if it is up to the teacher’s philosophy. Howard said it is up to the teacher’s autonomy, but most of the teachers are willing to work with the kids.
Howard said it is ultimately about the student learning the material, and interventions provides a perfect opportunity for the students to learn.
Trustee Corina Tynksy encouraged the high school’s faculty to talk to the students for insight on how they like interventions, and how it may be improved.
Trustee Steve Core said he had his concerns over the interventions period, and that is why he voted against it in 2016. However, he said the data helps relieve some of his concerns.
Core would like the school to continue the Friday interventions for at least two more years, as the freshman class when the interventions period was implemented will be graduated.
Core also suggested the school provide a survey for the teachers to take to see how they feel about the interventions period.