Two Chicago-area school districts are at the forefront of using technology to help students feel more positive about school and themselves. The districts, Waukegan Community Unit School District #60 in Waukegan and School District U-46 in the suburbs of northwest Chicago, employ Hero K12 to build positive school culture which generates data they can use for wider analysis. The results from the first year of data show significant progress on metrics the districts have chosen to measure. However, the real story is how data about tardiness and absences is an indicator of a healthy school culture. Click to Tweet.
One measure used in U-46 is ratio of positive to negative behaviors. In 2016/17, the ratio was 2.5:1. This year, the number is 4:1 which is a 37.5 percent improvement. Waukegan, which has used Hero for a shorter period and is still in its pilot phase, is finding dramatic drops in tardiness: Waukegan High School saw a 76 percent decrease in tardiness from December to March. The districts both see these numbers as proof that using Hero to emphasize positive behaviors combined with other district initiatives in teacher training and student education are having intended results.
“Waukegan School District and U-46 are fast becoming exemplars in how schools can combine data monitoring with personal interactions, training, and emotional supports for students,” said Jinal Jhaveri, CEO of EdTech Holdings which includes SchoolMint & Hero K-12. “These districts are using tardiness and school attendance as indicators of progress of a social-emotional state, which is traditionally difficult to quantify.”
There is not a clear causal relationship linking behaviors—like getting to class on time or being on task—with the social-emotional status of a student. However, measuring growth in these positive behaviors is an indicator of trends, and can be one method for school administrators to measure and monitor progress toward goals they have established. “The difficulty is in measurement,” said Dr. Terri Lozier, Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Schools Instruction & Equity at District U-46. “One way we can monitor the growth of positive sentiment or mood is to measure positive and definable actions such as getting to class on time and being on task.”
Teachers or administrators go to Hero on their desktop or mobile device and give a student points to reinforce and reward positive behaviors. The districts state that consistency is key so they deployed a plan that every school follows—or is working to follow—and standardizes what earns a positive or a negative point. Some of the most common positive behaviors include getting to school and classes on time, not loitering in hallways, picking up trash, being on task, wearing school colors, exhibiting kindness, and showing respect for classmates and school property. Students can redeem their points at the school store—each school stocks their own—for items like a pizza party, school spirit wear, dance or game tickets, and small items like ear buds and school supplies.
“Ultimately, we want to create a positive environment where teachers focus more on rewarding students because this pushes students to seek out those rewards. Along the way, everyone feels more confirmed and valued for doing the simple things: being on time, being prepared, and being a good citizen,” said Dr. Charmaine Harris, Coordinator of Student Outreach at Waukegan Community Unit School District #60. “When these basic needs are met, school becomes a healthier place to learn and students engage more strongly with their friends and with what they are learning.”
About Hero K12
With Hero K12, schools create a positive school climate and culture. Hero is a school-wide system to capture and collect data that allows schools to replace traditional discipline policies with initiatives that emphasize and recognize positive behaviors. Founded in 2013, Hero K12, along with SchoolMint, is a subsidiary of EdTech Holdings (backed by BV Investment Partners), building a portfolio of education technology products supporting the learner experience and allowing educators to more effectively deliver safe, positive, and connected learning environments. Meet school heroes and see their turnaround stories at herok12.com and @heromatters.
Copyright Business Wire 2018