GRESHAM-BARLOW SCHOOL DISTRICT
FOCUSES ON EFFECTIVE TEAM INTERVENTIONS,
K-12 CAREER CONNECTIONS
The Gresham-Barlow School District, serving nearly 12,000 students in Oregon’s fourth largest city, is currently pursuing an ambitious plan to improve students’ postsecondary outcomes using a new and improved data dashboard and monitoring tool, expanded teacher teaming around early warning indicators, and a preK-12 career success framework for students and their parents.
The first component of GBSD’s program is already in place. A new dashboard from Panorama Ed that provides robust data on the early warning ABC indicators (attendance, behavior, and course performance) and enables teachers to log interventions and monitor their efficacy, coupled with a school climate survey, provides powerful tools for school leaders and staff to evaluate and respond to their students’ social and emotional as well as academic needs.
A second component is underway in several GBSD elementary schools, in which teacher teams monitor early warning status and develop and track interventions to support students showing signs of stress. Results include improved attendance and behavior. The district wants to expand the teaming model, especially to support at-risk students in transitions (elementary to middle and middle to high school). GBSD’s two comprehensive high schools are refining teacher team collaboration within Freshman Success programs to focus on individual student needs as well as instructional practice, while addressing challenges related to scheduling and staffing. Teaming is still largely in the planning stages in GBSD middle schools.
The most innovative element in GBSD’s postsecondary success plan is a preK-12 career focus built on the principle that career-connected learning helps students take greater ownership of their education. This initiative, supported by the superintendent, assistant superintendent for teaching and learning, executive director of K-12 schools, ED of student support services, and high school CTE coordinator, engages stakeholders throughout the community, including local community colleges and employers, the Gresham Department of Economic Development, the East Metro Economic Alliance Board, and the city chamber of commerce.
The framework begins with project-based learning and community engagement for students in grades K-5. Middle and high schools offer STEM and career nights where students and parents can meet prospective employers and learn about career opportunities in such fields as health care, computer systems, digital media and marketing, apparel design, early childhood education, auto technology, and mechanical engineering. In grades 6-8, students will be exposed to a different career sector each term through elective courses. High school students can earn recognized professional credentials and/or dual credits for college by enrolling in CTE courses or attending the district’s Center for Advanced Learning. Business and industry partners will offer students opportunities for hands-on field experiences.
While the plan is still a work in progress, GBSD has learned valuable lessons already. One is the importance of stakeholder engagement in schools: the need to clarify the roles that business and industry can play, and the mutual interests of schools and businesses in such relationships. Another is the importance of braiding together diverse funding streams to support the work. Gresham-Barlow, for example, can use Title IV funds for grades K-8, along with CTE funding and Oregon’s Measure 98 funds at the high school level. To effect substantive change with an equity focus, the district has learned to leverage all available resources, and empower early adopters and champions of the work at every level.
Focus of Organization's Work
The development of a preschool to postsecondary pathway to career success framework that engages stakeholders across the community, and the adoption of a new data dashboard and intervention tracking tool to improve data focus and access.
Administrators at various grade levels, teachers, and five district level administrators. Responsibilities vary and a more comprehensive approach is being developed.
The 18 schools of the Gresham-Barlow School District provide a quality education to more than 11,500 K-12 students and their families.
The introduction of a new data system, and early adoption of teaming practices in elementary schools and freshman success teams.
Important Factors for Success
Leadership and a commitment to knit together funding opportunities to leverage change across the district.
Requirements for Success
Budget from Title IV, plus High School Success funds from the state; staff who are already leading this work; and support from district level leadership.
The freshman success teams began during the 2018-2019 school year; some elementary teams have been in process for 3-4 years. The data dashboard and intervention tracking tool will be fully implemented in the 2019-2020 academic year, supported by professional learning for school staff.
Early adopters are key; overcoming challenges regarding teaming practices will require perseverance.
Stakeholder engagement in the schools is critical, as are a willingness to make substantive changes that disrupt the status quo, the ability to consider multiple district funding streams to leverage resources, and identification of champions across the district.
2019-2020: Implement the data system and train school site teams to be fully functioning in the context of MTSS. Develop a career-focus pathways framework for the entire community, with early implementation of new pathways.
2020-2025: Further implement pathways until the strategic plan is fully implemented, embedding evaluation at every step. Provide ongoing professional learning coupled with coaching support at the school level to develop a common understanding of how to use data to drive equitable outcomes for all students.
- Take an equity view of student data at the system level
- Find early adopters and people already doing the work
- Leverage resources but be realistic about the implementation timeline