My Blog List

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Week #5

       This week has given me a run for my money, as I am preparing my students for their semester exams and trying to plan for the Attendance Reward Program that we are implementing in the spring.  It's been busy to say the least.

       After reading chapter 6 in Leading With Passion And Knowledge, I have begun to ponder the quality of my  own inquiry or topic of study.  It is my understanding that assessing the quality of an inquiry can be difficult for several reasons, but is important for the fact that as administrators we are continually improving our practice as well as making efforts to improve our school campus.

I have read and studied the five quality indicators and thought that I might want to detail a few of these for my blog followers to have a better understanding of where I am coming from and why I have chosen my action research plan.

Action Research Question:  What motivates students from a low socioeconomic status to attend school daily?

Quality Indicator 1:  Context of Study

District- We are a small district with only one high school, two middle schools, and five elementary campuses.

School/Students-  Our campus currently has a membership of 770 students.  We are currently not a Title I campus, and16% of our students are eligible for free or reduced lunches.  We received an Exemplary rating in 2009, and a Recognized rating for 2010.  Approximately 21.85% of our students are labeled as economically disadvantaged.  

Staff- One of the biggest frustrations that I hear from our staff is, "Why are our kids absent all of the time?"  "They are missing so much information."  Teachers get very frustrated with students that miss school frequently, because they are missing so much instruction and it is very difficult to get them caught up.  Students that miss school frequently, thus missing valuable instruction time, also affect our mandatory state assessment scores.  These test scores are often a reflection of the teacher's efforts as well.       This is another reason our teachers are adamant about getting our students to school everyday.

Student Population (Race)


Quality Indicator #2:  Wondering(s) and Purpose

Action Research Question:  What motivates students from a low socioeconomic status to attend school daily?

This year I was nominated to serve on the Campus Site-Based Decision Making Committee, where we reviewed and made changes to our CIP (Campus Improvement Plan).  One of the things that was discussed was our school attendance.  The discussion was centered around how we could improve our school attendance and what possible solutions we could come up with.  

Upon further research, I discovered that the majority of the students that are absent from school are students labeled as "economically disadvantaged" and are in low income homes.   These are the same students that are also struggling academically, and need to be at school the most.  

During lunch in the teacher's lounge, the topic is often centered around teacher's that are gripe about students always missing their class.  Teachers make comments like, "How on earth is he going to pass the STAAR test if he isn't even in my class?" or "Why is Billy always sick?  He is never going to get caught up at this rate"

Furthermore, there are two Title I elementary campuses in our district that have a much higher percentage of "economically disadvantaged" students, yet their attendance rate is AMAZING.  This is when I decided that I would like to research this topic and attempt to make a change that could possibly improve our campus attendance.

I hope that some of this background information helps to explain where my question came from and why I would like to pursue this action research plan.  

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Revised SIP Plan of Action- Mission Increase Attendance

I have tried everything and am unable to figure out how to publish my revised action research plan spreadsheet.  I have instead posted the link below for you all to take a look at.  Please feel free to offer any additional suggestions.

After meeting with my site supervisor yesterday, we made just a few minor changes to my action research plan.  We will add a drawing every six weeks for students that have perfect attendance.  We will draw one boy and one girl from each grade, and each will receive a $25 gift card.  We also decided to change up the type of party we have each six weeks.  One six weeks we will have an "open gym" where students can enjoy music, play basketball, volleyball, play on their ipods, or do what middle school kids love to do most, just sit and socialize.  Another six weeks, we will offer a movie and popcorn.  We don't want the kids to get bored or the excitement to wear off.  For our end of the year acknowledgement, we plan on having our "Prize Patrol", or our administrators dressed in party hats and blow horns, surprise our students with perfect attendance for the year with a certificate and a small prize.  This is something that they used to do years ago, but decided to do away with.  After speaking with some of the teachers and staff, they brought up how much fun it was and how much the students loved this.  We hope that these rewards and acknowledgments will show an improvement in our school attendance as a whole.  Our students that are labeled as "economically disadvantaged" are the students that are missing school most.  Our hope is that these rewards might encourage them to be at school everyday.  They may not have much at home, but if we can get them to school, they may have a chance to have some fun rewards and experiences that they may not have otherwise.

I will be working with Ann Witherspoon, a seventh grade teacher and technology whiz, to create two exciting commercials or movie trailers that will be aired on our televised school announcements.  This type of advertising has worked with out students in the past.  Mrs. Kyle, our Technology Application teacher that is in charge of Cub News and school announcements, will have her reporters announce all of the upcoming reward parties and rewards as well as the grade level that has the highest attendance for the week.  We are aiming to get these students fired up about the reward parties and get themselves to school everyday. 

I will also be working with our art teacher, Rhonda White, to create a visual monitor that we will put up right in the front of the school.  This is a place where every student will walk by at some point during their day.  We will be using a rock n' roll theme, and design our monitor like a guitar amp (like they use on Guitar Hero).  Every week we will place the sixth, seventh, and eighth grade levels on the amp, depending on their attendance for the week.  This way students will have a visual motivator as well. 

This reward program is going to be a lot of work to set up, but I do believe that if I stay organized and keep everyone in the loop, I can make this a successful program and hopefully succeed in increasing our school attendance.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

SIP- Mission Increase Attendance

Goals and objectives/outcomes of the research investigation-
I would like to answer the questions:  What motivates students that come from low income families to attend school daily? (Incentives and consequences) What are the reasons that students are absent from school? I would also like to increase the number of students that attend school.  (percentage)
 Activities designed to achieve the objectives-  I hope to implement a reward program that acknowledges students for perfect attendance each six weeks, semester, and year.  Students that have perfect attendance for an entire six weeks will receive a small prize (ice-cream coupon).  Furthermore, the grade level that has the best attendance will receive a party that will excuse them from their sixth period class and allow them to watch a movie, have popcorn, and enjoy time to socialize with their friends. 
Due to the fact that the fourth six weeks has the lowest attendance; students that  have had perfect attendance this six weeks will be permitted to attend “Perfect Attendance Bingo” where students will enjoy playing bingo with friends, popcorn, and will have the opportunity to win all kinds of fun prizes. 
At the end of the year, students with perfect attendance throughout the year will receive an award, acknowledging the honor. 
Resources and research tools needed for data gathering- Deborah Blansit- PEIMS/Attendance Clerk at Frank Seale Middle School, Cherie Wagoner- Principal at Vitosky Elementary, M.I.S.D. School District (Title I Campus), Jean Embry- Principal at Irvin Elementary, M.I.S.D. School District (Title I Campus), Campus Administrators, Literature (books/blogs/articles)
Draft timeline for completion or implementation of activities- Start date:  January 2012 – End date:  May 2012
 Persons responsible for implementation of the action research plan- Frank Seale Middle School Administrators- Dee Arterburn, Natalie Dennington, Coy Tipton, all teachers (for motivation/encouragement), Cub News team (advertising)
 Process for monitoring the achievement of goals and objectives- Deborah Blansit (PEIMS/Attendance Clerk) will provide printed data, including six week reports for our campus, and weekly grade level percentage reports for school motivation/competition.  These reports also break down the percentage of students’ attendance by demographics, in order to place focus on students labeled as economically disadvantaged.
Assessment instrument(s) to evaluate the effectiveness of the action research study-  Myself and my site supervisor will make a comparative analysis of the results that we find after implementing the reward system and the data we had prior to putting the action research project in place.  We will use collected data, provided by the district and our PEIMS staff to determine the effectiveness of the action research plan.

GOAL:  To learn what motivates students to attend school daily and implement a reward system that will increase school attendance as a whole, and benefit all stakeholders.

Increase student attendance on our campus.
There will be six week incentives for perfect attendance.  Grade levels will compete for one hour of free time/open gym, snacks, and socializing at the end of each six weeks.  Students that do not win, but had perfect attendance will be rewarded with an ice-cream coupon that they can use at lunch. 

“Perfect Attendance Bingo” will be advertised during the fourth six weeks.  Students that have perfect attendance this six weeks will be able to participate in a bingo game during their 5th period class and enjoy popcorn and prizes. 

At the end of the year, students with perfect attendance will receive a special trophy, acknowledging their perfect attendance. 

Awards will be given publicly, as to motivate other student participation.

School announcements are televised.  Perfect attendance program/incentive will be advertised and promoted with a commercial on our daily announcements, Cub News.
PEIMS/Attendance clerk on campus

Professional interviews:

Cherie Wagoner: Principal- Vitosky Elementary (Title I), M.I.S.D.

Jean Embry:  Principal- Irvin Elementary (Title I), M.I.S.D.

Campus Administrators- Dee Arterburn (Site Supervisory), Coy Tipton, and Natalie Dennington

Literature, including books, blogs, and articles
Develop an incentive plan that will motivate and get students excited to come to school and that all staff will promote and support.
Work closely with administrators to brainstorm creative, and affordable incentives that each grade level will compete for.

Interview principals that lead campuses with a high percentage of students that come from low income families; that also have high attendance rates.

Create exciting and creative commercials to air on campus televised morning announcements, Cub News.
PEIMS/Attendance clerk on campus

Professional interviews:

Cherie Wagoner: Principal- Vitosky Elementary (Title I), M.I.S.D.

Jean Embry:  Principal- Irvin Elementary (Title I), M.I.S.D.

Campus Administrators- Dee Arterburn (Site Supervisory), Coy Tipton, and Natalie Dennington

Literature, including books, blogs, and articles
Learn what motivates students in low income families to attend school daily.
Analyze campus data (attendance), focusing on “economically disadvantaged” students, to determine why students miss school and observe students reactions during “Perfect Attendance” award advertising.
PEIMS/Attendance clerk on campus

Professional interviews:

Cherie Wagoner: Principal- Vitosky Elementary (Title I), M.I.S.D.

Jean Embry:  Principal- Irvin Elementary (Title I), M.I.S.D.

Campus Administrators- Dee Arterburn (Site Supervisory), Coy Tipton, and Natalie Dennington

Literature, including books, blogs, and articles

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Week #2- The Plan

Coming up with a plan for action research was tougher than I had anticipated.  Our campus is not perfect by any means, but I wanted to choose a topic that was realistic and one that would allow me to obtain supporting evidence and data.  I came up with several ideas and was able to meet with my site supervisor late last week.  Of the three ideas I had, we decided upon student attendance and how we could improve it.  Earlier this month I attended our Site-Based Decision Making Committee where we analyzed and made changes to our CIP (Campus Improvement Plant).  Student attendance was one area that we agreed we need to focus on.  Some ideas that came up were offering incentives and rewards to students that had perfect attendance.  We talked about how we could even get parents involved and motivated to send their children to school everyday.  I will be focusing on what motivates students to come to school as well as why students are not attending school regularly.  I also want to pay close attention to demographics, specifically students that are labeled as economically disadvantaged.  I hope that I can shed some light on the matter and perhaps come up with something that makes a difference on our campus.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Why Use Blogs?

How might educational leaders use blogs?  Well first off,  they use it for communication.  Our superintendent currently loves to blog.  He keeps us up to date on all sorts of different issues and topics that pertain to our district.  At times he is humorous, sentimental, or even sarcastic, but generally he blogs to keep us informed.  It has become something that we both expect and enjoy.  Blogging is a great communication tool.

Another reason educational leaders might blog is to share their knowledge or even offer insightful suggestions when something powerful has been discovered.  How wonderful is it to be able to share what you know and help better others? That's what education is after all.  Sharing knowledge is a wonderful gift.

What I've Learned About Action Research

This week I have learned what action research is all about and how it differs from traditional educational research.  Action research is the process by which a practitioner reflects on his/her own practices and becomes a problem solver; taking action by implementing a change based on what has been learned through the inquiry.  
The process of action research involves reflection of current practices and then finding a situation that needs improvement.  One must conjure up possible strategies that may resolve the problem, or help improve the situation at hand.  An action research plan can take several months or longer, depending on what is being studied and or tested.  It is important that data is collected throughout the process and analyzed to determine if what you are doing differently is in fact working to improve the issue.  Finally, the findings of the action research plan should be shared with other colleagues as to benefit everyone from the study.
I have also learned the major differences between action research and traditional educational research.  Where traditional research limits the practitioner’s role in the research process and is performed by “outsiders” to the school or classroom, action research involves the practitioner personally and allows the individual to actively seek change in a particular problem that is occurring on the campus or in the classroom.  Traditional research studies others from afar and is in essence, “process-product research.”  Through practitioner inquiry, teachers and administrators are able to make purposeful reflections on current strategies or practices, and find solutions that will result in improvement.
            Even with all of this information, I think I will learn a great deal more once I have initiated my own action research plan.  As with many things in life, sometimes we learn best from experience.


Dana, N.F.(2009).  Leading with passion and knowledge:  The principal as action researcher.  Thousand Oaks, CA:  Corwin Press.