Principal - Wallace Supplement - May/June 2018 - 9

Tracking Progress
At Bethesda Elementary, students track
their progress visually. Third-graders, for
instance, color in two bar graphs to show
their current reading level and the level
expected for their grade. The exercise
helps them set goals, which are revisited throughout the school year as their

Photo courtesy of Marc Martin, CJR School

visiting parents. "It signaled that we were
different [from] them and that we weren't
in this work together," he says.
Martin regularly reminds families that
their involvement is critical. In a video
to parents last fall, he shared positive
school news before turning his attention
to tardiness. When kids arrive late, Martin
explained, it eats into learning time. An
hour missed daily adds up to four weeks
of lost instruction a year. "Be aware of the
time they're missing and how that impacts
every child, especially as we continue to
push them to be eligible for college and be
successful in life," he adds.
Enrollment at Commodore has quadrupled to more than 800 children under
Martin's leadership. Chronic absenteeism and suspensions have dropped
significantly, while proficiency scores in
math and reading have surged.
None of these gains would have
happened if students weren't deeply
invested in their education. That commitment, principals say, comes only
when students know what is expected
of them and take ownership of the
vision themselves. No one likes to tell
a seventh-grader that she's reading
at a third-grade level, but without that
knowledge, she won't be engaged to try
harder with the right instructional support. "When kids know where they are,
they'll buy into learning," Williams says.

"When you support kids and build
relationships with them, then you have
kids engaged in learning. That's what
changes outcomes."
-Antoinette Hudson, principal, Fairview Elementary School, Denver, CO
reading skills improve. Some won't master
the standard in a year's time, Williams
notes, but that's OK. What matters is
progress and celebrating that growth.
It's also a morale boost when other
schools want a copy of your playbook.
This year, Baltimore City Public Schools
asked Commodore to give hands-on
guidance to three failing elementary
schools in the district. Essentially, the
schools are where Commodore was
in 2010: poor test scores, declining
enrollment, and persistent misbehavior.
During the four-year initiative, one of the
last in Maryland to be funded through
an expiring federal grant program,
teachers at Commodore and the three
schools will share lessons, observe

each other's classrooms, and collaborate in other ways.
Meanwhile, Martin will coach the
principals on effective leadership practices. They're calling it the 100% Project
because the goal is for all four schools
to work together to make 100 percent
of their students eligible for college.
The schools have even embraced
Commodore's 100% pennant, adding
the emblem to their own uniforms.
"Seeing other schools adopt our vision
really validates where we're headed,"
Martin says. *
Jennifer Gill is an education and
business journalist based in the
New York City area.

naesp.org

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Principal - Wallace Supplement - May/June 2018 - Cover1
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Principal - Wallace Supplement - May/June 2018 - 1
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