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middle school

Aim High: Closing the Achievement and Opportunity Gaps Through Summer Learning

Aim High is a summer learning program designed to prevent summer academic slide by providing middle school students from low-income families a summer program that blends academics and enriching activities such as sports, art, and drama. A second goal of Aim High is to build a pipeline for young people of color to enter the field of education. In 2014, Aim High engaged the Gardner Center to conduct a study to examine students’ and teachers’ experiences with the program and to identify key program elements and implementation conditions that bring about desired program outcomes.

Boys & Girls Club Participation and English Language Development among English Learner Students

In this analysis, researchers at the Gardner Center used the Youth Data Archive to match English Learning students’ achievement data from the Redwood City School District to attendance data from the Boys & Girls Club of the Peninsula to study the link between afterschool program participation and English language development. Results from this analysis indicate that Boys & Girls Club attendance is associated with gains in English proficiency from one academic year to the next.

Developing Early Warning Indicators for the San Francisco Unified School District

San Francisco’s Bridge to Success initiative joins the City of San Francisco, the San Francisco Unified School District, the City College of San Francisco, and community organizations to promote high school and postsecondary success for underrepresented students. Discussions between SFUSD staff and researchers from the Gardner Center led to the development of an Early Warning System to enable high schools to identify incoming ninth grade students in need of extra supports to be on track to graduate.

Youth in the Middle: Envisioning and Implementing a Whole-School Youth Development Approach

Youth in the Middle approaches the challenges faced by schools and youth amid a culture of high stakes accountability while trying to implement a community youth development approach to teaching and learning. Youth in the Middle involves teachers, community-based organizations, administrators, youth, and city and county institutional leaders to develop an effective system-wide approach to support positive youth development (social, emotional, physical, and cognitive) across in-school and out-of-school settings.

Mapping Out-of-School Time Resources for East Palo Alto and Belle Haven Youth

In 2009, community leaders working with youth in the City of East Palo Alto (EPA) and the Belle Haven neighborhood of Menlo Park approached the Gardner Center with a need to better understand why many youth remain disconnected from the community’s youth service programs and agencies. The Gardner Center collaborated with these leaders to gather and analyze data to answer the following questions: (1) What programs are available to youth in the EPA and Belle Haven communities, and where are there gaps or duplication in available services?

Caring and Motivating Middle School Classrooms

In 2009, the Gardner Center began working in partnership with the Redwood City School District to gain a deeper understanding of classroom practices to promote motivation and achievement in middle school. Each spring, all middle school students in the district completed a survey about their motivational beliefs and classroom experiences. In response to conversations with teachers and administrators, the 2011 survey incorporated a new set of questions to capture students’ perceptions of classroom practices that convey care and support.

Practices that Promote Middle School Students’ Motivation and Achievement

As students transition from elementary school to middle school, their motivation to learn declines along with their engagement in learning. This decline is especially troubling for low-income, minority youth who are more likely to have struggled academically during their elementary school years. The decline in motivation and engagement, however, is not inevitable. What happens in classrooms can make a difference by promoting a set of beliefs that help launch young adolescents on positive educational and developmental trajectories.

Examining Students’ Perceptions of the School Environment: Sequoia High School’s School Climate Survey

Research has shown that adolescents’ school experiences and perceptions of the school climate can influence their attendance, motivation to learn, and health risk-taking behaviors. At the request of the Sequoia Union High School District, the Gardner Center collaborated with Sequoia High School in the 2011-12 academic year to develop and analyze the results of a survey instrument that tapped all SHS students’ viewpoints of the school environment (e.g., sense of safety).

Creating Community Change: Challenges and Tensions in Community Youth Research

This paper describes the promising practice of community youth research in the context of a live example in Redwood City, California. The paper illustrates how community youth research was defined, approached, and used, and how participants worked to overcome challenges. Rather than providing a model or framework for what community youth research should look like, the author, the lead adult facilitator of Redwood City’s community youth research project, takes the reader through the city’s journey in supporting meaningful youth involvement.

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