Lashawna Tramill, an English teacher at George Wahington High School, firmly believes that data proves the district’s Freshman on Track (FOT) program is working.
FOT is the cornerstone of the district’s efforts to improve graduation rates by focusing on incoming freshmen through an online dashboard, tracking how these students fair using a regular cadence of reports.
The latest data found:
- The district’s FOT rate improved from 65% in 2020-21 to 84% in 2021-22. The goal is 87% for the 2022-23 school year.
- Because of the success of the Freshman on Track program, the district instituted a Sophomore on Track program during the 2021-2022 school year that yielded a 75% on-track rate for the first semester of last year.
- Latino/Hispanic and African American/Black students across IPS showed tremendous growth from the 2020-21 to 2021-22 first semester data. Latino/Hispanic students’ on-track rates increased from 74% to 88% and African American/Black students’ rates increased from 72% to 82%.
In her role as the lead of her school’s FOT team, Tramill crunched numbers regularly while her team reached out to parents and worked with fellow educators to intercede when students were falling behind or simply failing.
“Our team — much like every FOT team at every high school — found success because we diligently collaborated as colleaguesworked around the clock to make sure that freshmen were reaching their potential,” said Tramill, who earned her Bachelors of ECE at Martin University and a M.A.T at Marian University.
“The FOT team met twice a week to review attendance and academic data in order to develop intervention plans for students and families,” she said. “MTSS Tier 1 and 2 interventions were used as a plan to ensure students were able to access academic content and acquire necessary credits needed to graduate on time.”
PROVEN NATIONAL RESEARCH AND STRATEGIES.
“By digging deep into data (from grades to attendance) and creating FOT teams at every high school, educators can intercede when failure is evident, and before it’s too late,” said Dr. Warren Morgan, the district’s chief academics officer.
Morgan and his staff brought proven national research and strategies such as: implementing timely and actionable data; implementing freshman and sophomore teams of teachers; developing a robust menu of student interventions and a comprehensive system of support; adjusting grading policies; providing extra in-class and out-of-class academic and social-emotional support for students; as well as many other proven strategies that promote student success.
A freshman is considered to be on track earning a qnrter of credits needed for graduation by the end of their 9th grade year with no more than onecourse failure. Sophomore on track is when students earn half of their credits by the end of their 10th grade year with no more than one course failure.
Students who end their freshman and sophomore years ‘on track’ are four times more likely to graduate than their peers who are off track, Morgan notes.
REGULAR WORKSHOPS AND MEETINGS TO REVIEW ISSUES
Tramill said her team participated in workshops and team meetings throughout the year where they collaborated around data reports, identified interventions for specific students, celebrated students who showed growth or remained on on track throughout the year, and collectively found solutions to support students on the path to high school graduation.
“These freshmen are like blank slates when they come into high school and this is the time to help them understand how they can make changes to become better students,” she said. “Freshmen are being introduced to the multiple pathways the district offers. At the secondary level, Freshmen are given more responsibility over their academic careers. We want them to make informed decisions so they may graduate on time and be successful post-secondary.
She credits the leadership of Stan Law, the principal at George Washington High School, for much of the success.
“It was challenging the first year back from the COVID-19 pandemic, but Principal Law was extremely supportive in making sure we had what we needed to assist our students,” Tramill said. “When we wanted to incentivize the program, providing prizes for students when they met their goals, he was right there helping us.”
The next step for Tramill and her team begins in a few weeks when classes start. She plans on enlisting students to help make the 2022-23 school year a success by incorporating their ideas.
“We have to include the students’ voices into this in order to take it to the next level,” she said. “This past year was adult driven and adult managed. But, we need the students to help take ownership in their futures. Their voice is the strongest we have here in the district.”