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Dec 16, 2009 1:49 PM by Andy Koen

Behavior improves with achievement in District 2

Student achievement in Harrison School District Two has improved to point that the district has been removed from academic watch by the state education department and is now fully accredited.

One benefit of that change has been an improvement in student behavior.  At Carmel Middle School in particular, kids are coming to school more often and acting out in class less.

Half the number of students here have gotten in trouble here this year as compared to last year, and discipline write-ups are at their lowest point in five years.

Megan Sheppard, a teacher and the math department chair credits the improvement to better classroom practices.

"We've really been focusing on good instruction," Sheppard said. "Good first instruction and also building classroom community."

She says she and her colleagues have striven to create classroom environment that encourages students to feel valued and at the same time holds them accountable for their behavior.

"It seems so obvious, but students have to feel valued and respected in their classroom," Sheppard said.

Assistant Principal David King says teachers have also been empowered to handle disciple problems themselves rather than relying on the central office for every issue.

"If we can engage them and interest them in the classroom materials, then we'll have less behavior outside the classroom," King said.

Another reason for the change is stronger involvement by parents. Jessica Sanchez coordinates a parent team at Carmel, hosting monthly volunteer days to get parents involved in the school as often as possible. She first became involved after her own son got into trouble.

"I think that all children are looking for acceptance from their parents, be it half an hour, take time to sit down in the evening and help your child do their homework, ask them about their day, ask them how their day went, you couldn't be there but have them tell you."

The results aren't limited to Carmel.  Discipline problems are on the decline at all D-2 schools this year, most noticeably in the middle schools.

Between August 1 and November 24 there were 908 discipline referrals written at D-2 middle schools as compared to 1,324 referrals written during the same period in 2008, roughly a 31 percent decrease. 

At the high school level referrals are down by 7 percent and at the elementary level 10 percent.

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