All students enter school with a combination of "headwinds" and "tailwinds". Tailwinds are the things that make school easier for students. Tailwinds include things such as coming from a home with parents of high education levels and economic stability, being a native English speaker, not having a disability, and being a member of the cultural majority. Each of those characteristics plays a role in helping a student experience success in school.

Headwinds on the other hand make school more difficult. Headwinds can include having economic instability at home, parents with lower levels of education, having a disability, or still learning English. The more headwinds a student has, the more difficulty they will have in maximizing their academic potential and the more “tailwinds” they will need. Tailwinds come in the form of high-quality instruction, support, and intervention.

The Academic Support Index, or ASI, quantifies these headwinds. A student’s ASI is the sum of their headwinds. Their ASI can also be considered a measure of the amount of support that they will need in order to mitigate the impact of those educational headwinds. Students with a low ASI will likely need very little additional support outside of Tier 1 instruction. Higher ASI students will likely need proportionally higher amounts of Tier 2 and sometimes Tier 3 supports.

There is a strong relationship between the ASI and academic outcomes. These include standardized and standards-based assessments such as the SAT, Smarter Balanced Assessments, AP and IB tests, STAR Reading and Math, kindergarten screeners, cumulative grade point averages, rates of college eligibility, and rates of college degree attainment. We have studied these effects over seven years of data as well as across urban, suburban, and rural schools. To date over 400,000 students have been scored on the ASI. (See the featured post below for a list of papers and presentations on the ASI).

Because the ASI is able to reliably predict student outcomes you have to opportunity to interrupt that predictability by using the ASI to make sure that you are identifying the right students for early intervention and support. With effective intervention, predictive analytics can become preventive analytics.

Monday, November 9, 2015

One consideration for schools working to improve the outcomes for struggling students...

The graphic below is an important consideration when working with students who struggle academically.  It is based on a presentation by Dr. Frank Worrell of the University of California Berkeley given at the Berkeley Unified School District's Research Symposium on November 6th, 2015.
 Essentially, he says that protection of self worth is a primary driver in human decision making.   I put together the graphic below to try to summarize this point.  There are four student pathways: "I study and succeed", "I don't study and I succeed", "I study and I fail", and "I don't study and I fail".  


In the first quadrant the student is described as Hard Working. In the second he or she is a Genius.  In the third they are stupid, and in the fourth they are Lazy.  Struggling students are usually found on the right side.  For these students school has often been difficult.  If the protection of self worth is a driver of your decision, which do you think you would choose: Stupid or Lazy?

The implications for working with at-risk students are significant.  The goal is to move students from "I study and I fail" to "I study and I succeed". 



 Teachers and schools must often engineer the success of students who have had negative educational experiences.  Just as failure often begets failure, success leads to more success. This does not mean dumbing down the curriculum or inflating grades. Authentic success is key as kids can see right through a patronizing "good job".  This requires that schools and teachers provide the necessary tailwinds to high ASI students. Resources are key.

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