Schoolrunner and KIPP Houston Northeast College Prep: A Cultural Reflection

KIPP Northeast College Prep opened its doors in June of 2013 to serve a growing community in need of a safe learning environment. With an emphasis on encouraging students to explore their talents and interests, KIPP Northeast College Prep continually assesses its students’ and teachers’ growth to ensure improvement, offering rigorous instruction to prepare students for success in college and beyond. Following a blended learning model, every freshman uses a laptop throughout the day, empowering them to take ownership of their own progress while embodying the school’s core value of responsibility.

Values to Live By.

KIPP Foundation photoshoot in Houston, Texas, 2/5/2015, by Ethan Pines. Covered schools: Intrepid, Northeast College Prep, Generations Collegiate.

KIPP Northeast began using Schoolrunner from day one, and they continue to find innovative ways to incorporate data not only into their decision-making and school initiatives, but also into their students’ daily lives. This commitment to transparency ensures that each student receives individualized instruction to help address their differing academic needs. Gillian Quinn-Pineda and Crystal Xu (Founding School Leader and Assistant Principal, respectively) use Schoolrunner not only to analyze their data but to support their school’s unique culture.

“Schoolrunner is such a part of our day it’s hard to separate it out from our culture.” Gillian Quinn-Pineda, Founding School Leader

KIPP Northeast College Prep’s students are encouraged to live five core values: Gratitude, Responsibility, Excellence, Ambition, and Tenacity (GREAT). For example, during their freshman composition class, students begin to explore value in action and how historical figures have lived and defined these values. With Schoolrunner, students’ positive behaviors are linked directly with one or more of the school’s core values, further supporting the students’ practical understanding. This positive behavior reinforcement empowers school leaders and peers to praise and acknowledge those students who best embody school values.

Ownership and Self-Advocacy.

Positive behavior reinforcement barely begins to scratch the surface when it comes to Schoolrunner’s cultural and academic supports. Before transitioning to the role of Assistant Principal, Ms. Crystal Xu served as KIPP Northeast College Prep’s founding Biology teacher, giving her a unique perspective on the multiple ways to utilize Schoolrunner as a powerful school achievement engine. In her classroom, she was able to experience firsthand the power that came in Schoolrunner’s ability to provide easy, quick entry of grades and behavior data, instantly providing actionable feedback around her students’ progress.

With Schoolrunner’s powerful assessment analytics, she could quickly see holes in objective mastery and change her teaching strategies and lesson plans accordingly. Since students and parents have the ability to access real-time student information through Schoolrunner, Ms. Xu was able to hold students accountable for their own progress and shift the conversation towards achievement, not excuses.

Advisory Support that Works.

KIPP Northeast College Prep’s entire school culture is built around high expectations coupled with support, buy-in, and ownership. For ten minutes at the beginning of each day, students meet with their advisories to review their Schoolrunner account and set goals for the day. When the advisories reconvene at the end of the day, teachers and students can quickly assess their progress based on the goals they set that morning, while getting ahead of any problems and praising all achievements.

“Schoolrunner access has allowed advisories to be student-progress-focused rather than simply a series of reminders.” Crystal Xu, Assistant Principal

Juniors at KIPP Northeast have a special relationship with Schoolrunner and their advisory class. Every five weeks, advisories participate in “Celebrations”, where students examine their dashboard numbers, set new goals, and share their progress. This transparency of data, along with the light competition between advisories has raised students’ investment in their education to a new level. Schoolrunner has given these juniors the power of data-informed goal-setting, while allowing students to hold themselves and each other accountable every day.

“Our kids are well aware of the power of Schoolrunner … The conversation is no longer ‘I didn’t know’. This allows us to get to the root of a problem or know what is working with input from our students.” Gillian Quinn-Pineda, Founding School Leader

Although many of KIPP Northeast College Prep’s students come in as freshmen performing below grade level, in recent months the school is starting to see its initiatives work. The Class of 2018 has the highest number of students exceeding a 2.5 GPA than the school has seen since it opened its doors. Four advisories average a GPA over 3.0, and only one advisory averages under a 2.5 GPA. The school leaders attribute this to student ownership over their education and a huge commitment to parent engagement.

“It’s the best our kids have ever done and it’s all because we’ve gotten our students to own and understand their numbers.” Gillian Quinn-Pineda

Parents are engaged by their student’s advisory teacher on a regular basis by phone, email, or text, but the communication doesn’t stop there. Every six weeks, parents are invited into the school for a full update on their child’s academic performance. The school prepares a concise one-page summary for parents that details students’ educational and behavioral performance along with how they compare to school averages. These report cards give parents the information they need to help their child stay on track and contribute to the school’s community.

Equity of Expectations.

KippFemstu

While Schoolrunner enables students to set goals and own their performance, it also gives administrators and teachers the information they need to be their best. Each week the administration at KIPP Northeast College Prep sits down with teachers to review their numbers in Schoolrunner, setting new goals and addressing any issues. Administrators can quickly see when enough phone calls are being made to parents, all grades are entered, how cohorts of students are behaving, and which students might need extra academic support. Weekly teacher check-ins like this demonstrate the school’s commitment to high expectations for its staff as well as its students.

Bright Years Ahead.

KIPP NE

Schoolrunner strives to support and enhance each school’s unique culture, giving educators instant, actionable feedback on their efforts. Our innovative partners like KIPP Northeast College Prep recognize the power of their data and the importance of involving the entire school community. Schoolrunner and our partners are bonded by a commitment to continual learning and growth, striving each day to be better than the day before. We provide schools with reliable tools and the support they deserve so that they can do the same for the future leaders of America.

by 

Lee D.

School Happiness Ambassador

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