How to Turn Your Worst Performing Students into Superstars in Just One Semester | Mindsteps Inc.

How to Turn Your Worst Performing Students into Superstars in Just One Semester

Previously, I talked about how I discovered a “red flag” system as a way of helping me offer support for students early, before they were caught in a free-fall of failure and had given up. (You can read about my system here). It’s just one part of the Student SUCCESS Plan.

So you know already that developing a Student SUCCESS Plan can keep students from failing.

But what about the students who are already failing and have been failing for some time? Can the Student SUCCESS Plan work for them?

Well, let me tell you about a middle school in the heart of Illinois about 2 hours outside of Chicago. A few years ago, I visited the school to share my student SUCCESS plan with them.

NOTE: Download your copy of the Student SUCCESS Plan

They got so excited about the potential of the plan. But, they worried that it wouldn’t help the students who struggled the most.

I suggested that they try out the plan with a small group of their worst performing students first, in order to see how it works. If it worked for them, they knew it would work for all of their students and they could roll the plan out school-wide.

So the Guidance Counselor compiled a list of their 20 worst performing students. These were students who were:

  • Reading several grade levels behind the rest of their peers,
  • Constantly being referred to the office for disciplinary infractions,
  • Chronically absent,
  • Failing at least 4 of their classes.

The team had already tried several remediation programs without success. At this point, they really didn’t know what to do to motivate these students and all of the students were seriously at risk for dropping out.

So the team built a simple Student SUCCESS plan.

First, they recruited an athletic coach from the local community college to start a “Running Club.” This club met 3 days per week before or after school where the 20 students were trained to run and in other areas of fitness by the coach. On the days the Running Club met, the students were excused for PE.

Second, the School Team enlisted one of the special educators on staff to work with students during their PE period.

Third, the special educator worked with students in just 6 ways:

  1. Preview upcoming assignments,
  2. Teach students study skills,
  3. Help students develop note-taking skills,
  4. Supervise corrective action and retakes
  5. Help students get organized, stay on top of assignments
  6. Break large assignments down into smaller learning tasks.

NOTE: Download your copy of the Student SUCCESS Plan

What were the results?

After one semester of using the Student SUCCESS Plan with their 20 worst performing students, not one student was earning anything less than a C in any class.

What’s more, because the students were now armed with the “soft skills” of the classroom, the students were:

  • Significantly more motivated,
  • Much more engaged in their own learning
  • Sharing the skills they were learning with other students who weren’t in the program!

By just setting students up for success, and helping them keep up instead of waiting for them to fail and then play catch up, this school was able to turn their 20 worst-performing students into superstars in just one semester.

Imagine what you could do with your students.

NOTE: Download your copy of the Student SUCCESS Plan