PHILADELPHIA After Indian River Middle Schools pilot year of looping some seventh- and eighth-graders, Principal Nancy C. Taylor-Schmitt said many of the preliminary data presented to the Board of Education in June show student improvement.
The data basically looked at English and social studies on the one team that is looping knowing thats one of the three teams that the middle school offers for its educational program, she said.
Looping is a process where teachers have the same students for more than one year. In this instance, students had the teacher for seventh and eighth grades.
Previously, middle school counselors, special education teachers and select eighth-grade teachers were the only loopers at the school.
English grades have gone up while social studies remained the same. Also, attendance improved between the seventh-graders in 2010-11 and this past years eighth-graders.
Discipline referrals between seventh- and eighth-graders increased 2 percent. However, Ms. Taylor-Schmitt said, compared with eighth-grade students in 2010-11, there actually is a drop in disciplinary problems.
She noted the data are raw right now because only one looping cycle has been studied. At the end of the 2011-12 school year, 64 percent of the original team that looped was still at the middle school, because of transfers. Its for a full blend of students, Ms. Taylor-Schmitt said. This team has regular students and special education students. Some of them were English as a second language students.
The idea of looping seventh- and eighth-grade teachers in the middle school began in 2001 but has been a point of contention among many board members. In January 2011, the Board of Education voted in favor of it 7-1, with Vice President Thomas J. Lapp casting the negative vote.
I think the presentation showed some positives, board President Frank J. Laverghetta said of the data shown in June. Thats got to be something we continue to look at.
Ms. Taylor-Schmitt said many of the teachers enjoyed their first year of looping, because it made summer learning loss less of an issue at the beginning of the year.
They were able to gain a month of curriculum because they had already gotten to know the students the last year, she said.
She observed more students bonding better with teachers as well. It was very successful, she said. I had no complaints.
She said students who did not get along with teachers could be moved to another teaching team. In addition, none of the teachers at the school is obliged to loop.
She will present the final data to the Board of Education next year when she has two looping cycles of data.