We've been at the 2010-2011 school year for over a month now and we've collected some data for comparison. The core changes this year include the implementation of a 1 to 1 laptop program, a 5 X 3 trimester that features extended 65 minute classes, the house system, and a later start time beginning at 8:30 am.
We've pulled some data at this point looking at tardies, absences, and discipline infractions. Below are the results and some possible explanations as we continue to evaluate the changes taking place at Peoria Notre Dame High School
While we have been blessed to never consider discipline issues a large problem, the results in this category are very interesting. Overall discipline referrals are down 63.4% from last year. Part of the benefits of adding a 1 to 1 computer program is the shift from passive to active learning strategies. As teachers become proficient at integrating technology into their instruction we see the quality of student engagement increasing. Information is no longer scarce. Teachers are not limited to text books but have a large array of instructional choices many of which involve a more active role for the student learner. All of this logically leads to a decrease in discipline referrals. Active students engaged in learning stay out of trouble. School is no longer a media and information poor environment compared to the home environment. The digital divide between what students have access to in school and out of school no longer exists.
Two years of preparation went into the adaptation of 1 to 1 computing. One of the lessons learned is to take risks with technology. Teachers do not necessarily have to be proficient at every detail of the software programs but their willingness to challenge students to use these tools in powerful ways often go well rewarded. As part of homecoming week students were asked to create digital shorts tied to the homecoming theme of "Irishopoly". Below are two links to videos that in my humble opinion are very good for a group of students who have had their macbooks for little over two months. I'd share all six but I think two will suffice.
Marian House Video
Benedict House Video
The daily start of school has been pushed back by forty minutes this school year in line with current research regarding teenagers and optimal brain function. Some of the fears in our planning focused on the concern that this would really do nothing to decrease tardies or increase performance. As a number of naysayers argued, " Teenagers would still be late and given their nature a later start time wouldn't do anything." We'll it is still early but the numbers are in. Tardies have fallen 31%. Additionally we have seen large numbers of students arriving early to either socialize or work on assignments. If you count the half hour before school it appears our students, even though lunches are now mixed between ages, have plenty of time to socialize with their friends and classmates.
Some articles on the issue of later start times:
Attendance rate data can tell an interesting story about a school. Student absences have decreased 37.9% . It is our hope that the changes this school year have helped to create a more positive dynamic learning community at PND. The data so far supports the changes that are taking place. We look forward to analyzing academic data at the end of the first trimester. We plan to keep you posted. There are still a number of issues that need our attention and efforts to refine and enhance and we look forward to this work.