For acceleration and certification, I’m sharing two angles on this topic: one as a leader at my site trying to bring awareness to teachers and opportunities to students through acceleration, and the other as a leader in my classroom and in the district bring a new industry certification opportunity to my curriculum. These artifacts show my progression as a researcher to finding a source of data to use to take action in making a difference for students to graduate prepared for college and/or career.
When school grades come back for high schools, administrators often pore over FSA scores and graduation rates. The acceleration rate never gets as deep of a dive–it’s always seen to be the responsibility of the Career and Technical teachers, but without a concrete way to measure it, it doesn’t get looked at much beyond the monthly CTE PLC.
One day in the last week of March, I was digging around in our district internal email and document system, looking for something. I stumbled into a folder called “School Data” that had updated measures of our KPIs, along with some other data related to the school grade, measured over the course of the year. In here I found an acceleration folder, with spreadsheets of juniors and seniors and which semester they had acquired an acceleration point. I brought it to the attention of my administration, who hadn’t heard that the data had existed in that form and was shared with schools.
I immediately began dissecting the data. I determined who had a point already and who didn’t. I focused on our seniors, because so late in the year, I knew we’d have to use the data to make a big push for their acceleration point. I emailed current CTE teachers to find out who had already passed this year to update the list.
Once I had a list of seniors without an acceleration point, I then worked with my tech specialist to run the data through an Access database of student schedules. For each student, their entrire schedule was available. I scanned through each student, and found each AP or CTE course those students were in. With that data added, I could then sort by teacher and give each AP and CTE teacher a list of every student in need of acceleration before graduation.
This artifact connects to my passion of equity and access for all students in AP and CTE classes. As a former AP teacher of a non-traditional class with half first-time AP students and a 97% pass rate, I believe in access for all to AP courses. As a CTE teacher, I know how easy it can be to just issue certification exams without differentiation instruction due to the nature of practice tests. By highlighting these students and asking teachers to invite them to tutoring, or to a certification boot camp, we give every student the opportunity to leave prepared for college or career. When you put a face to that number, the teacher is more likely to push and become the advocate that the student needs.
When looking through the Florida CAPE Industry Certification list for potential certifications to align with our CTE courses, I found some Microsoft certifications in IT. At our professional study day in the district, there was a presentation on one of the Microsoft certifications designed for web design. That’s when I learned our district was purchasing vouchers for these exams, but they were going unused for students enrolled in the Tech Support pathway.
I started adapting my curriculum to meet the needs of two certification exams: CompTIA A+ and the Microsoft Technology Associate. For the MTA, I had a student take it in advance as an test, and we realized they updated the exam to Windows 10 without updating the study materials. This caused me to look for new resources and really dig into the exam standards to align them to the curriculum in the second semester.
Our supervisors asked the other teacher in the district who taught the course to meet with me to realign and modernize the curriculum. With the state redraft of the standards looming, we decided to try to offer the MTA exam in that semester. That caused 11 of my students to certify, but also exposed another school’s students to this certification, with more potentially passing
This connects to teacher as researcher, because through my efforts to find untapped sources of school data, we found strategies to make a difference for our students. With access to the junior data, we can now start using the possibility in the data to make an impact on students now, to change the way we plan as a system to give students more equitable opportunities. We’re just starting to play with ideas like scheduling out rising seniors without a point to CTE or AP, but that’s part of the research process—finding what works based on the data that we have.
As a teacher leader, this artifact reflects my ability to creatively combine data sources to find ways to make an impact on student learning, while using my background and skills in both AP and CTE to lead these two teacher groups towards opportunities to make an impact on student outcomes after graduation. Though this directly impacted my site, use of this data in this way could impact at a district level when shared. Through embedded the Microsoft certification in the district framework for this class, I believe that having an industry certification that is achievable in one year could attract more schools to pick up this waning, but important program, across the district.