Boaz Middle School
Every Day, Every Child, A Success
Boaz Middle School (BMS) enjoys the reputation as one of the most outstanding middle schools in the country. BMS is a nationally recognized Professional Learning Community (DuFour, althingsplc.com) and is highlighted by Harry Wong in the most recent edition of The First Days of School as a school where “teachers are our greatest asset.” The vision for each BMS employee, from teachers to child nutrition staff, as he/she walks through the doors each morning is Every Day, Every Child, A Success. All decisions that are made at Boaz Middle School are done so with that unrelenting vision guiding teachers and administrators to do “whatever it takes” to ensure that each child is, indeed, a success.
Boaz Middle School consistently makes strides in breaking down the academic barrier. Without support systems in place to break down those barriers, students will go through middle school ill-equipped to be the most successful member of society they could be. Several systems are woven into the fabric of the BMS curriculum.
Administrators and faculty members facilitate a variety of book and article studies to address instructional and structural needs. Some book studies include administrative assistants, teachers, instructional aides, custodians, and child nutrition workers. The belief at BMS is that it is everyone’s job to support our students.
Grade level data meetings not only focus on referrals of students with academic needs of students, but also the emotional/behavioral needs as well. From these meetings, students are strategically provided either academic or behavioral intervention(s) – and sometimes both - that will best support their needs.
For Boaz Middle School, there is no obstacle that will stand in the way of student success. Schedules and interventions are kept fluid and flexible in order to best reach all students. It is not always easy to change schedules or implement new intervention programs in the middle of November, but it may be the best and right thing to do for students.
In order to complete work due to absences, or if more time is needed for assignments, students can stay after school to participate in OSCAR (On School Campus Alternative Remediation) or arrive early to participate in Morning Make Up. However, for those students who do not have transportation that will allow them to stay, BMS had to find a way to provide intervention during the school day. After discussion by the Boaz Middle School Leadership Team, Tier II and Tier III interventions for reading and math were implemented during the day. This is in addition to core instruction.
Planning for the next school year begins at the end of the current year. Teachers collaborate by creating personalized student schedules with paper and pencil. By using all outcome assessments (SAT 10, ARMT, and ADAW), specific student information, and progress monitoring data, classes are created with a balance of personalities and abilities. These are then given to the counselor to key into the computer program. Collaboration between other schools is imperative in this process as well.
Interventions are kept fluid and flexible. Boaz Middle School believes that no matter the academic level of a student, the task is to meet him/her where he/she is. Teachers must provide strategic reading strategies for struggling students, while at the same time challenge advanced students in order to improve reading comprehension. The most skilled reading teachers are paired with small groups of students during reading period where reading comprehension is the focus. Content area teachers are paired with students who excel in those academic areas to encourage students to “think outside the box.”
Math intervention classes are scheduled in addition to regular math classes. Students are placed in these intervention classes based on test data and teacher recommendation. The teachers of these classes work closely with regular math teachers to reinforce concepts being taught in those classes. Hands-on projects and manipulatives are an integral part of these intervention classes.
Collaborative teaching is the standard at Boaz Middle School. Language arts and science teachers, along with the media specialist, met over a period of several weeks collaborating on standards from each content area. Together they designed a cross-curricular research project through which Language Arts teachers were able to teach the research process, citing resources, and grammar through the content of vertebrates and invertebrates in science. Teachers also collaborate on speaking the same academic language across the curriculum. Math and language arts teachers strive to use the same language when discussing reading problems. Through these efforts, students are able to transfer learning across content areas.
Scientifically-research-based instructional strategies are infused into content area instruction in order to support literacy development for all students within the school. Each teacher incorporates strategies that help students comprehend the text used for that particular content area. Teachers plan lessons that allow students to be actively engaged, which is the most critical element in strategic teaching. If students are not engaged in meaningful instruction, learning is not occurring. Teachers purposefully plan for students to have the opportunity to talk, write, investigate, read, and listen to others every day in every class.
Boaz Middle School loops students during the reading period portion of the day. Students entering sixth grade will remain with that same teacher during reading period through the eighth grade. The results with disadvantaged students identified through the free and reduced lunch program and English Language Learners have been encouraging. Disadvantaged students reap benefits from time spent on developing social skills. English Language Learners become comfortable in a consistent environment and develop confidence in their new language.
With varied intervention structures in place and a strongly committed administration, faculty, and staff, barriers are removed in order for student success to occur.
Although poverty and special populations have increased, test scores have remained constant and even continue to rise.