When you step on campus at Jefferson School, you can feel the positive culture. Our excitement and energy is palpable because of our Jefferson Creed program. The Jefferson Creed program supports students both academically and behaviorally. Jefferson Creed, implemented over ten years ago, was created with the goal of developing core values to reduce negative behaviors and increase overall student performance. The core values are as follows: Be Responsible, Do Your Best Each Day, Think Before You Speak, Put Others First, and Avoid Conflict.
More recently, our Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS), Multi-tiered Systems of Supports (MTSS), Associated Student Body (ASB), School Site Council (SSC), Monticello Jefferson Parent Faculty Association (MJPFA) and Instructional Leadership Team (ILT) have merged to implement additional components to our Creed program. A Junior Bulldog Project was formed, Creed cards and postcard created, implemented a positive reward system, Second Step lessons for all students on a weekly basis, ASB plans school and community events, students are provided WIN (What I Need) time weekly for targeted interventions and enrichment, peer groups meet weekly, restorative practices are utilized by all staff, social-emotional learning is built in to our master schedule, anti-bullying messages and bumper stickers are in all classrooms and in busses district wide, students are trained to become student leaders through summer camps, and more.
Professional development, community outreach and forming teams to create solutions with a systematic approach was the key to implementing these changes. Teams of classified and certificated staff, administration, parents, and students were formed to research best practices and guide all initiatives into efficient systems to enhance our Jefferson Creed program. Our SSC funds our programs by providing incentives for weekly Creed card drawings, and purchasing our Creed cards and postcards. We are fully supported by our district to attend PBIS and MTSS trainings as a team which allows us multiple opportunities for professional development and continued learning.
Our School Site Council governs our school plan. Our school plan directly aligns with the district’s Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) and therefore is supported and aligned with district initiatives. More specifically Jefferson Creed meets our LCAP through Goal 2: Foster positive relationships between staff, students, parents, and the community as part of a successful learning environment. Included in this goal are surveys, home school communication, social emotional learning curriculum implementation, PBIS, counseling and training for all stakeholders.
The Jefferson Creed program differs from the district’s program by providing all students more opportunities for support and recognition for positive behaviors. The anticipated outcomes affect our students, parents, staff and the community in a positive way. These additions increase school culture and climate, reduce chronic absenteeism, build a strong close-knit community, reduce negative behaviors, increase awareness about anti-bullying and where to seek help, increase recognition for positive behaviors and ultimately create an inviting place where students want to be. In return, students enjoy school, show up every day, and improve both academically and behaviorally because the whole child is supported. Thus, this program fully supports all of our diverse students by meeting their educational, social and emotional needs.
Implementing and Monitoring
The Jefferson Creed program was strategically implemented by all stakeholders working together for a common goal of providing more support to the whole-child by meeting their educational, social and emotional needs. Each year our PBIS, MTSS, SSC, ASB, and ILT teams meet regularly to review current practices, research best practices, and refine our systems and programs. Furthermore, there are overlapping members on each team to ensure a consistent message is shared between all teams. This allows for a clear plan, a plan that trains staff and to recognize positive behavior, works as a community, and provides opportunities and support for all students and families. Each group is involved in self-assessment, including but not limited to SWIFT FIA (Fidelity Integrity Assessment) and LEASA (Local Educational Agency Self-Assessment).
A main source of support and community outreach is through the formation of our Jr. Bulldog Project. Tracy High School, the high school Jefferson students feed into, began the Bulldog Project (BDP) in 2013. As an effort to enhance their message and improve our culture, Jefferson School created a Jr. Bulldog Project and works in conjunction with BDP. Along with Tracy Crime Stoppers and Tracy Police, they create assemblies and proactively speak about bullying, drugs, alcohol, gangs, sexual assault, human trafficking and teach others how to report crime anonymously to Tracy Crime Stoppers. In addition, Jr. BDP and BDP encourage students to support each other’s differences and not fall victim to crime. We continue to extend our efforts by working with the Tracy Mayor, San Joaquin County District Attorney, Tracy City Council Members, educational Board Members from Tracy Unified and Jefferson School Districts, Civic Organizations and our parents. All stakeholders are encouraged and invited to all school assemblies both during and after school to discuss “Real Talk” on social pressures.
Our teams recognized a need for social emotional support, as well as a need for extension activities and intensive academic interventions. Recently the WIN (What I Need) program was fully implemented. Weekly sessions are built into the master schedule. This is an all hands on deck program and every staff member, classified and certificated, provide different learning sessions for students. Sessions are created based on need. Some students are assigned to closed sessions, including peer groups, academic support, counseling services and GATE activities. Others are able to choose their learning opportunity which may include robotics, 3D printing, creative writing, audio circle, study hall and more. All stakeholders recognize qualitative results such as increased mastery of standards, increased attendance rates for our most vulnerable students, increased parent meetings resulting in student behavioral contracts and outside counseling, an increase in positive student academic and behavioral recognition, and more support from experts focused on targeted areas.
Our Creed program provides layers of support for students. We have also developed Creed expectations and explicitly teach these school wide. Furthermore, our ASB and Jr. Bulldog Project visit our incoming TK-4th grade school, Monticello, to reach students at a younger age and teach them about the importance of kindness. Connecting with Monticello bridges the gap for our students as they enter Jefferson. Second Step, a research based social-emotional support program, is taught to all students on a weekly basis. Students reflect on behaviors by relating their behavior to the Second Step lesson as well as tying it to Jefferson Creed (Be Responsible, Do Your Best Each Day, Think Before You Speak, Put Others First, and Avoid Conflict). Students are recognized for model behavior, receive incentive tickets and prizes, and attend positive behavior recognition assemblies.
Our program is communicated to parents through a weekly newsletter from administration, personal phone calls from students and staff, flyers containing multiple dates and times for informational forums, an ASB Instagram page, positive Creed postcards sent home when students are caught following Jefferson Creed values, Remind app, Back to School Night discussions, teacher webpages, Aeries Parent Portal, Jefferson School webpage, Aeries communication via email, phone and text, and in conversations while parents and community members are on campus.
Jefferson School will continue to build staff and student leadership capacity through professional development, specifically in the areas of MTSS and PBIS, to enhance our Tier 2 and Tier 3 support systems for academic and behavioral support. Student leaders will continue to grow, provide voice, improve and promote interactions through communication and provide representation for all academic interests including extracurricular activities. Ultimately, their involvement will keep current traditions in place and promote a positive school atmosphere, resulting in students connecting to school and higher academic gains. The entire Jefferson School community embraces lifelong learning and is committed to create a safe and effective home for all of our students and staff. Students perform at higher academic levels when they are emotionally fit.
Results and Outcome
Since full implementation of the Jefferson Creed program, there have been marked improvements in both behavioral and academic performance for all students. We are collecting data on all aspects of our school culture to ensure a continued cycle of inquiry and improvement. Qualitative and quantitative data is collected through California School Dashboard, California Healthy Kids Survey (CHKS), student surveys, staff observations and input, SWIFT FIA (Fidelity Integrity Assessment) and LEASA (Local Educational Agency Self-Assessment).
Evidence from the California Healthy Kids Survey (CHKS) indicates a positive change in all areas from 2016 to 2018. The scores range from 100 to 500 with higher scores representing more positive school climates. The survey resulted in an overall score of 370 in the area of supports and engagement, which is a 61-point increase from 2016 and violence and substance abuse resulted in a score of 217 which is a 117-point decrease between 2018 and 2019. This concludes that students feel an increase in caring relationships, opportunities for meaningful participation, school connectedness and feeling safe at school. Furthermore, students, staff and parents are reporting decreased physical and emotional violence, harassment and bullying, and substance abuse.
When students feel connected to school it results in increased academic results and decreased behavioral incidences. The California Dashboard indicates students are performing 13.9 points above standard in Mathematics, 11.5 points above standard in English Language Arts with a 5% growth in ELA from 2017 to 2018. Our most recent data shows a decrease sin the suspension rate by 1.6% and a decrease of 1.4% for chronic absenteeism. Restorative practices and circles have contributed to the decrease in discipline referrals and suspensions. Staff is implementing restorative practices to fidelity by proactively connecting with students, and deescalating behaviors. As more intensive behavioral intervention is needed, Tier 2 and Tier 3 support is provided and available for students because of the newly implemented structures in place.
Student progress on universal screeners, behavior, grade point average, summative assessments, and DIBELS is formally reviewed on a six to eight-week cycle. These results drive student placement in intensive intervention and enrichment, as these classes are fluid. Summative assessments and checking for understanding is reviewed weekly and results in student groupings for WIN on a weekly basis. The data is shared with all stakeholders, reviewed at team meetings (PBIS, MTSS, SSC, ASB, and ILT) for decision making, discussion, improvements and goal setting with resource allocations. The results are taken to our School Site Council for parent and staff input which is an integral part of our comprehensive Safety Plan as well as our Single School Plan for School Improvement.
Providing solid structures to engage students at school, paired with a rigorous and relevant academic program has resulted in steady growth. Many of our students vocalize excitement when they return to school after holiday breaks and visit once they have moved to high school or college. They return to share their appreciation for the positive experience they had at Jefferson. It is known that we care about the educational, emotional and social needs of Jefferson students. You can feel the positive culture when you step foot on our campus.