Developing an academic winning streak

What began as an academic intervention prototype, 3 years later has transformed into a schoolwide program that has lowered the student failure rate by 33%.

Achieving balanced student enrichment across a diverse student body is challenging. Minnetonka High School began an academic intervention prototype in the fall of 2014 to increase the focus on making each student successful in their classes and on track for academic success. Jeff Erickson, Minnetonka High School Principal, and his faculty implemented a proactive approach to identify struggling students and offer additional assistance throughout the semester. For those students that could arrive at school early for the extra help, the program demonstrated very positive results. Once these results were evident, the faculty wanted to expand the program, creating the time and structure to support all students.

Expanding the program to reach all students was complicated. It required inserting an extra period each week into the core school day, developing a plan that delivered individualized learning opportunities to all students, and mastering the logistics of a weekly class period that would have dynamically changing topics and students.

Working with faculty, office hours were clarified and the school schedule adjusted one day a week to include Minnetonka Academic Success Time, MAST. The weekly 40 minute MAST time is for teacher-initiated intervention sessions.

Each week, teachers identify challenging topics from last week's curriculum and assign students that need individualized help. School counselors prioritize and resolve conflicts when a student receives multiple invitations. Students and parents are notified of MAST assignments via email, and reminders are generated on a student's iPhone or iPad just before the MAST sessions begin.

Smooth and simple program logistics is key to executing the program. The Minnetonka High School 2016/2017 student population exceeds 3000 students. On average 500 of those students are assigned weekly to a MAST session. "Critical to our program is the right software tools that enable the faculty to be successful", Jeff Erickson, Minnetonka High School Principal. The burden of scheduling, communicating, and tracking MAST participation is simplified for faculty via a custom software solution from VACAVA. Developed to meet the specific needs of the MAST enrichment program, the software enables teachers to quickly schedule sessions, assign students, and track attendance. "The software is easy to use and it's wonderful having a record of students I have previously invited to sessions. The notifications we receive when students are invited to multiple sessions has been essential in prioritizing student needs," Minnetonka High School Chemistry Instructor Patricia Price.

School counselors have easy-to-read reports to resolve weekly scheduling conflicts and historical data that provides clear visibility to those students with the greatest needs.

The MAST program has provided academic opportunities for all students, most significantly those with the greatest risk of failure. Tracking results from 2nd semester prior to the program -to- 2016, there has been:

- 45% drop in failing grades given, from .9% to .5%

- 33% drop in students with a failing grade, from 3.6% to 2.4%

- 25% drop in students with multiple failing grades, from .8% to .6%

Students recognize the value of MAST with 95% of those surveyed rating MAST academic sessions as helpful. Chemistry Instructor Price, shared "MAST allows me to better connect with students who need additional support. Having time within the normal school day has really improved accountability and results."

"We could not execute a program of this scale without VACAVA's AchieveMore software to remove the logistic roadblocks and provide insightful data. VACAVA has exceeded our expectations", Jeff Erickson.

Originally developed as a custom software solution, AchieveMore via VACAVA is a dynamic scheduling, tracking and communication software solution, now available to schools of all sizes. Let us show you how the right software can accelerate your program.

Tags: Academic InterventionAchieveMoreVACAVAcustomsoftware