UB education school award promotes better classroom instruction and community school involvement
Release Date: May 5, 2015
BUFFALO, N.Y – A BOCES district program that significantly reduced suspensions and disciplinary referrals, and increased student attendance, has received the University at Buffalo’s Graduate School of Education (GSE) Interprofessional Collaboration for Student Improvement Award, a university competition encouraging schools to develop the best plans for improving classroom learning.
A team from the LoGuidice Education Center in Fredonia developed a plan that cut student suspensions by 58 percent, increased student attendance by 11 percent and reduced the number of disciplinary referrals by 80 percent, according to Robin Brown, supervisor of instructional programs at LoGuidice, a school of about 50 students within Erie 2-Cattaraugus-Chautauqua BOCES.
“We pulled many of our staff together trying to reduce the number of disciplinary issues and suspensions, and increase attendance,” says Brown. “We’re thrilled to be recognized, first, as a testament to the work our staff does every day. Our staff not only takes the whole-child approach, we take the whole-child philosophy, not just academically. We try to assist them socially and emotionally.”
The 80 percent drop in disciplinary referrals came about because of a less-punitive approach by school officials, according to Brown. Instead of referring a student for a discipline violation, LoGuidice’s collaborative approach looked for the root cause of the disruptive behavior. Counselors, teachers and staff were encouraged to support students as they “de-escalate, regroup and refocus on their education.”
By taking a less punitive approach to discipline, students learn coping skills, and feel respected and connected to the adults in their lives – feeling like they matter, Brown says.
LoGuidice is an alternative school serving students whose behavior falls outside accepted norms for other schools.
“The IPC committee, which is comprised of leaders in the field and UB GSE faculty, was very happy with the number and quality of applications for this award,” says Thomas Ramming, clinical associate professor for the GSE.
“The LoGuidice team, which is comprised of the supervisor of instructional programs, social workers, teachers and support staff has done a remarkable job in reducing student discipline and suspensions over the last two years. And as educators, we all know two things about school: A safe, orderly environment is essential for learning and students can’t learn if they are not in attendance.”
Brown and other LoGuidice staff will accept their award at the GSE faculty and staff meeting noon Wednesday, May 6, at 120 Clemens Hall on UB’s North Campus. The winning team will share highlights of their effort in a short presentation. They will introduce members of the team, discuss the problems they encountered and how they corrected the problems, guided by research, and the results.
“What we have been able to do is understand how important it is to develop programs and strategies that not only look at learning but the social and emotional needs of our students,” Brown says. “We try to have a culture of high expectation and high performance where students feel connected and respected as individuals.
“This award means a lot. Our staff works tirelessly to make a difference in the lives of some of the most difficult kids. We are connected as a learning community and a family.”
The Interprofessional Collaboration Award is a school-based model that engages collaboration among teachers, administrators, counselors and other school professionals to improve student outcomes. As a condition for receiving the award, the winner agrees to provide an opportunity for GSE faculty to conduct research at the school.
Brown says LoGuidice administrators plan to choose GSE’s option of a professional development program designed and delivered by GSE faculty to support a specific educational need.
The Interprofessional Collaboration Award is an example of new collaborative programs that boost GSE’s commitment to increasing its involvement and partnerships with community schools.