Highlights of Exemplary Practices Aligned with the 18 Characteristics of Successful Middle Schools
Characteristic #2: The school environment is welcoming, inclusive, and affirming for all.
Lee County Middle School East creates a culture and climate where all are welcome, and personalized environments foster the development and individuality of each student. The teaming approach allows for heterogeneously grouped small learning communities and provides a wide range of support for students’ physical, emotional, and intellectual development. Cooperative learning is an essential element of all classrooms at LCMSE, which builds a foundation of trust and teamwork within the learning environment. LCMSE encourages students to have input in the school’s operations. Surveys are used to elicit student ideas and interests and provide feedback. An advisory time is built in weekly to support social and emotional learning.
Characteristic #4: School safety is addressed proactively, justly, and thoughtfully.
Lee County Middle School East fully implements Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) to foster a safe and positive learning environment that promotes and rewards positive behavior. Procedures and protocols are in place to allow students the opportunity to correct behavior through a progressive discipline model. A badge system is used to support the PBIS and progressive discipline model. Students are required to wear their badges daily. In addition, LCMSE has a full-time school resource officer and WatchDOGS (DADS OF GREAT STUDENTS) program that allows male role models to volunteer within the school. The school also partners annually with the local sheriff's department to teach students about internet safety.
Characteristic #6: The school engages families as valued partners.
Lee County Middle School East embraces the effect size research of John Hattie and recognizes the impact of parent involvement on student achievement. Therefore, Lee County Middle School East strives to continually partner with and educate parents with opportunities such as quarterly Parent Universities, Title Nights, STEM Days, Student Led Conferences, PTO, and WatchDOGS. In addition, LCMSE provides opportunities for parents to be involved in the school’s decision-making processes through surveys, PTO, and the school council.
Characteristic #8: Educators are specifically prepared to teach young adolescents and possess a depth of understanding in the content areas they teach.
At LCMSE, teachers participate in content-specific professional learning throughout the year to enhance their professional practices, including instructional strategies that are varied, challenging, and engaging for students at all levels. Teachers in the same content areas also participate in data team meetings during common planning to discuss student growth and plan differentiation based on individual needs. In addition, teams work collaboratively to integrate curriculum in all content areas into Problem-Based Learning (PBLs) and Interdisciplinary Units (IDUs). These student-centered approaches to learning allow teams the flexibility to implement block scheduling which fosters in-depth inquiry, extended projects with hands-on experiences, and problem-based learning.
High Academic Expectations
At Lee County Middle School East, high academic expectations are met with rigorous academic standards while maintaining an acute awareness of students’ needs and interests. Teachers participate in content-specific professional learning throughout the year to enhance their professional practices, including instructional strategies that are varied, challenging, and engaging for students at all levels. Various assessment methods, coupled with consistent data teaming, allow for monitoring student progress and drive instruction. In addition, data teaming allows teachers to develop Extended Learning Time (ELT) groups, small groups in class, and differentiated lessons to fit the needs of students. Students with special needs are included in the general education setting and have the same learning opportunities, goals, and high expectations as those in general education. Because of this daily practice, LCMSE sees growth in Beacon, GMAS, and Universal Screener data.
Characteristics #12: Varied and ongoing assessments advance learning as well as measure it.
Formative assessments are integrated daily into the learning process using a variety of approaches such as questioning strategies, observations, and tickets out the door at the most basic level. Collaborative planning allows teachers to plan for common formative assessments. Formative and summative assessments are analyzed to drive instruction based on student needs. Teachers consistently monitor data gathered through these assessments (CFAs) by subject and grade level to ensure the uniformity and equity of learning opportunities across teams.
Characteristic #18: Organizational structures foster purposeful learning and meaningful relationships.
Effective leadership is critical to a school’s success. The administration is involved in the day-to-day operations of the school and is responsible for ensuring that existing policies and practices make the school an equitable, just, and welcoming place, ensuring that school improvement happens through every possible means.
Stakeholders are integral to the decision-making process and include faculty, staff, parents, and business partners. Teacher leadership is cultivated by designating lead teachers to serve on the school leadership team and in other capacities. The school leadership team meets monthly to review the School Improvement Plan, student discipline, achievement data, attendance data, technology data, and intervention data.
The school also has an active Student Government Association (SGA) and a PBIS Student Advisory Committee, which provide opportunities for student leadership.
Lee County Middle School East implements a hybrid schedule. The schedule allows general education teachers and special education teachers to plan so they can discuss students’ achievement levels collaboratively. The schedule also allows an extra thirty minutes on block days for study hall so teachers can remediate and help students with missing work. Finally, the hybrid schedule allows a co-led teaching approach where connection teachers support students in the classroom.