INDIANAPOLIS (Dec. 11, 2017) – Metropolitan School District (MSD) of Decatur Township announces its partnership with the University of Chicago to implement the Student Transition and Enrichment Pathway (STEP), a research-based program proven to produce growth in academic achievement and graduation rates among high school students.
The University of Chicago discovered that each year, roughly 10 percent of freshmen class students nation-wide find themselves struggling to earn enough credits to pass ninth grade, leaving them with only a 20 percent chance of graduating on time. The STEP program utilizes weekly data trends to monitor student academic success and identify “at-risk” ninth and tenth grade students, allowing them the opportunity to enroll in a different school structure tailored to their specific needs.
“The transition from eighth to ninth grade can be remarkably challenging for students due to the greater academic responsibility and increased demands of high school courses,” said Nate Davis, assistant superintendent of Decatur Township schools. “After learning about STEP, we knew that it would serve as a tremendous opportunity for struggling students to get back on track in a tangible way.”
Ahead of the 2017-2018 school year, MSD of Decatur Township used attendance, course pass rate and grade point average data points to identify and invite 80 freshmen and sophomores to participate in Decatur’s pilot year of STEP. The enrolled students attend Decatur Township School for Excellence with a focus on closing the literacy and math achievement gap, core academic courses to help ensure future success of students and social and emotional support for struggling students.
“This method has the potential to transform students’ lives,” said Matthew Weimer, a Decatur Township School for Excellence teacher. “As well as improve the practice of any teacher involved, using real-time data as the cornerstone of decision making and intervention planning.”
Teachers are able to track student performance trends such as grade point average, discipline and interaction in order to implement strategies and lesson plans tailored toward specific skill sets. After just six months, Decatur’s STEP program experienced a 31 percent increase in the number of on-track freshman, meaning the students are passing both their required Algebra and English classes, as well as the majority of their other required courses. An additional 25 percent of STEP students only need to raise one grade in order to qualify as on-track.
“The teachers and administration have worked exceptionally hard to give these students the skills and motivation they need in order to be successful both in our pathway and beyond,” said Tim VanWanzeele, principal of Decatur Township School for Excellence. “And the data proves that our students rose to the challenge and are beginning to take control of their futures.”
This year’s pilot program has demonstrated such a high level of success that MSD of Decatur Township will continue to implement STEP and find new ways to improve the achievement rates each year. Through rigorous research, consistent trend tracking and comprehensive data training, the Decatur Township school district is confident that STEP will allow their administration and staff to better support its students on their path to graduation.
“Our vision is to provide these students with the tools, compassion and understanding they need to realize their potential,” said Weimer. “From there, we help encourage these students to take advantage of these resources and move toward building their best life.”
For more information on MSD of Decatur Township, visit www.decaturproud.org.