Enabling Academic Innovation

While most of us understand the "goings on" in a school, unless you're an educator you don't see the work that goes into delivering innovative academic programs. Launching a new program may require everything from working with the Teacher's Union to change processes defined in a contract, coming up with new approaches to relationship building between students and teachers, to real-time monitoring of who is succeeding and who's not. I have been very fortunate to have worked with several Minnesota schools implementing new academic programs. Through that experience I have learned there are many components that enable a successful academic program.

One of my clients, Jeff Erickson, Minnetonka High School Principal, was recently invited to speak about their innovative intervention program at the Minnesota Association of Secondary School Principals - MASSP conference. Based on the high attendance at Jeff's sessions, there was considerable interest in how to run a school wide intervention program and the results that can be achieved. Yes, VACAVA developed the AchieveMore software used by Minnetonka. But the success of their program is not just a technology story, it's how the technology is used to enable positive outcomes. As an example, Jeff's team has seen significant improvements in intervention session attendance. When a teacher assigns a student to a session the student is notified, as well as the student's parents and counselor. Additionally, Minnetonka hall monitors and para's are in the hallways prior to intervention time with the list of student session assignments -- and when they see a student not in their proper place, they help them find their way. AchieveMore software has helped the faculty significantly improve attendance by sending session communications, tracking data, and creating reports.

Jeff also talked about how they manage students invited to multiple intervention sessions. Counselors receive real-time student information combined with historical data to identify potentially broader student issues.

I can't say that AchieveMore is responsible for Minnetonka's 33% drop in student failures, but the software has helped enable their success. Jeff told the conference attendees that he doesn't spend time talking about technology issues now, as in past. AchieveMore has removed the logistical roadblocks for their intervention program, allowing them to focus on their students.

It feels great to do good work, with good clients, to enable the success of innovative educators.