Colton Middle School: Accelerating to the Top in Academic Gains

In 2015, Principal’s Exchange began partnering with Colton Joint Unified School District cabinet-level administrators to reimagine their systems and practices and accelerate learning and achievement across every student demographic. At the time, a significant number of the district’s schools were underperforming in math and English Language Arts (ELA) based on standardized test scores. While the district had used multiple strategies to improve student outcomes, they experienced limited or inconsistent success. Principal’s Exchange started by helping district administrators identify their success and challenge areas by using classroom observations, student shadowing, staff focus groups, and analyses of historical and current achievement data. Based on these findings, the Principal’s Exchange team met with administrators regularly – coaching them on how to deepen their role and engagement as lead educators and increasing their accountability for teacher and student performance. In 2016, these administrative supports were followed by a week-long Summer Training Institute at Colton Middle School, that was open to administrators, teaching coaches, and teachers prior to the school year. Principal’s Exchange facilitates Summer Training Institutes with each of its partners to provide an in-depth orientation of its equity-grounded, data-driven approach to systems change and to preview how this approach will be implemented throughout the partnership. Once the 2016-17 school year started, Principal’s Exchange provided Colton Middle School administrators and subject teams with a robust suite of practical and tactical strategies and tools to address each of their challenge areas. These included working with them on: aligning curricula to state standards, designing and evaluating formative assessments to measure student progress, and facilitating structured Data Reflection Sessions to deepen collaboration around what was and wasn’t working using data analytics to inform and tailor their support strategies. As a result, Principal’s Exchange is excited to announce that after its first full year of partnership, Colton Middle School rose from one of the district’s lowest performing middle schools to one of its highest in both math and ELA. Colton Middle School and Principal’s Exchange are looking forward to entering the second year of their partnership and keeping the momentum moving forward.