Chief Academic Officer, Kiddom
Abbas Manjee is Chief Academic Officer at Kiddom. Before Kiddom, Abbas taught high school math serving at-risk youth in New York City.
This is the 2nd blog of a 2-part series around Early Warning Response Systems. Learn more about what we hoped to achieve in the first blog here.
Traditionally, schools have held academic data at the core of intervention frameworks. Student performance is often what determines funding, reaches families, and defines the success of a learning community. But functionally, schools are so much more than report card dispensaries. They act as community pillars by offering social support, enrichment opportunities, flu shots, ballot boxes, and everything in between.
The role of an educator is expected to cover the same breadth—but without giving the same weight to student interests and circumstances as we give to performance data. What would it take to enable a holistic approach to intervention in schools? Earlier this year, I was fortunate enough to visit Greenville County Schools in South Carolina and find out.
“Every staff member is a student advocate.”
— Jeff McCoy, Associate Superintendent for Academics at Greenville County Schools
The OnTrack Greenville intervention framework draws from three fundamental indicators of regression: attendance, behavior, and course completion (ABCs). The data is kept simple, making it much easier for teachers to input and refer to it as frequently as they find it necessary or helpful. But to combine these three factors and assess the full picture as intended, there needs to be more than one observer and contributor.
Upon observation, it’s more suitable to label their early warning response system as a network: schools and districts can’t initiate an RTI without respondents, or enable an MTSS without supporters. Every staff member is trained on protocols and brought into the framework for intervention. By tapping on the professional instincts and dexterity of every employee, OnTrack Greenville provides each student with multiple layers of support.
With the OnTrack framework, Greenville County can take targeted action to prevent delays in matriculation. For individual students, these include interventions such as reading support, counseling, speech therapy, and 1:1 instruction. At the classroom level, OnTrack lends itself to equity for students by pondering the questions:
- Are all teachers managing behavior issues the same way?
- Do the final grades in a course match student data on individual assignments?
Schools can use an early warning response system like Greenville’s to support social-emotional development and academic performance side by side. Principals at OnTrack schools can expect to see absenteeism and behavior incidents drop by at least 25% year over year.
The ability to merge data with qualitative instincts should be the standard for schools—not a privilege.
Of the 101 schools in the district, it has taken nearly 10 years to implement the OnTrack framework at 30 Greenville schools. It is expensive, both in human time and money—principals are out of the building for a day and a half each month, and weekly staff meetings can take 90 minutes or more. Most notably, responding to a regression in attendance simply must take place outside of the school. To intervene, a staff member might drive to a student’s house and offer to bring them to school, or meet with the guardians present.
Greenville County was able to build their early warning response system thanks in large part to a generous $9 million donation by the United Way. Many school districts will never catch the same luck, and they shouldn’t have to: the ability to merge data with qualitative instincts should be the standard for K-12 education—not a privilege.
At Kiddom, we’re imagining a future with no barriers to schools that want to comprehensively support their students. The most remarkable takeaway from our visit to Greenville was immersing into a network that proves these conditions are within reach.
At a typical Kiddom school, hands are in the air, there’s a buzz in the room, and teachers and students are energized. Kiddom was designed to help improve teacher retention and increase student performance and graduation rates.
For the first time, the most important parts of teaching and learning are connected and simplified in Kiddom. Curriculum lives in one place and is easily measured and refined, instruction is personalized to meet the needs of each student, and data serves as a powerful system of support for every member of the learning community to keep students on track.
What People Are Saying
“Kiddom is great for assessing data and then assigning appropriate work based on individual student performance. I love that it's very easy to attach standards and rubric to every assignment.”
Jackie Curts, Middle School Teacher
“Using Kiddom has made me stop and ask, ‘Am I just letting this student repeat what they already know, or am I really challenging them?’”
Ann Leghorn, High School Literacy Specialist
“I can see where my class and any student is at any moment in their educational journey. This way, I can take action to assist them to work towards mastery.”
Mr. Albrecht, High School Teacher