Simple Tips to Increase Student Achievement at the High School Level
by Geneva Glanzer
Having taught in public schools for the past 28 years, numerous changes have been noted, one of which involves the increasing number of students not working up to their potential. In considering the swell of apathy and decrease in motivation, there seem to be specific factors affecting classroom performance.
Parent support and interest in education, especially at the upper grades, is waning. Often parents are busy in their own endeavors or dealing with personal issues. They may have given up on their child out of frustration or are intimidated by school itself as a result of their not being successful as a student.
A second variable involves the pressure of high stakes, state-mandated tests. Increased accountability is essential in the teaching profession but the additional demands on teachers have affected the building and maintaining of student relationships. Only the most effective educators have found a balance between state accountability and student accessibility. Teachers simply are not spending enough time connecting with students.
A third factor involves public education not keeping up with the fast pace and excitement of today's society. Technology has changed the way in which young people interact with the world, yet many educators have not made the paradigm shift within their classrooms. Students need additional challenges presented at a higher level of thinking such as problem solving, discernment of information and development of interpersonal, team building skills.
Analyzing data gathered during action based research conducted in the classroom initiated strategies that had a positive effect on student achievement. Even at the high school level, students are often unable to monitor their own learning improvement. Most students lack the discipline, maturity and skills to attain high educational standards without additional assistance.
To increase student achievement several concrete strategies were implemented, including having students set and evaluate both academic and personal goals on a regular basis, monitor their own reading progress through standardized tests and fill out their own credit sheet for graduation.
Students whose parents were contacted at least twice a month and who were given bimonthly progress reports also showed academic growth. Attitudes, interest in school and self-esteem improved as noted through teacher and parent observations as well as personal interviews with both students and parents. It was determined that improved student success was in direct correlation to the amount of personal time and energy an individual teacher spent with a student and their parents.
Student achievement increased and students began to work up to their potential when: they were guided in goal setting, empowered to take responsibility in their own learning, received individual assistance through tutoring, obtained consistent feedback on their progress, and their parents were involved through the concerted and consistent effort on the part of their child's teachers.
Instead of lamenting young peoples' lack of interest in school, educators need to evaluate how much time is spent with parents and students to build relationships as well as give guidance and tools to empower students to become responsible for their own progress and achievement. In addition, providing one-on-one educational experiences with students and challenging them with higher level thinking will be constant factors in increasing student achievement.
Highland High School