Cleveland Avenue Elementary School Executive Summary
Why STEM at CAE? The STEM journey at CAE did not just begin in 2019. CAE has been working towards becoming a STEM certified elementary school since 2013 before we even decided that we wanted to be. It all started with a vision for wanted to expose our students and provide them with experiences that would take them far beyond their 30315 zip code. Our teachers have participated in professional development workshops, on and offsite collaborative planning, and vertical articulation meetings with their peers and teachers from our feeder middle and high school. Throughout the process, we have engaged in the ongoing process of reflection and revision to go deeper with our implementation of STEM throughout the building.
Our STEM journey has been deliberate and intentional. We have shared our goal for the implementation of STEM with students, parents, and the community since 2013. To that end, our stakeholders have provided us with a great deal of support in the form of the donation of time and talent to make STEM come alive for our students.
We are striving towards STEM certification because STEM defines what we do at CAE. CAE students are provided with weekly access to the STEAM and Science labs, daily technology integration, and the implementation of STEM/ PBL units, lessons and activities within and outside of their classrooms. Moreover, a CAE student has the opportunity to participate in the Girl Scouts, STEM Gems, Legal Lives, Science, Technology and Engineering Competitions, Technology, Gardening, and Jr. Beta Clubs. Our students have the benefit of visiting and working with professionals from the City of Atlanta, the Wylde Center, Trees Atlanta, Lockheed Martin, Georgia Power, The G.A.B.I.E. bus and many more partners. Finally, students at CAE are provided with STEM lessons regardless of their grade level or class type. STEM not only takes place in content classes but also in our enrichment program during Music, Art, Spanish and Physical Education, our self contained Special Education program, and our general Pre Kindergarten- 5th grade classrooms. Not only are students exposed to STEM in their classroom they are provided multiple opportunities in our GOALS Academy After-school Program and Summer STEAM Camp. Moreover, students are exposed to STEM during our quarterly STEM PBL Showcase Nights and during College and Career Week. We have worked and will continue to work to make STEM a part of our culture. We recognize that the implementation of STEM units is a best practice that provides tremendous academic benefits to our students and the community at large. When STEM is implemented in the classroom, the level of rigor increases, while also moving students towards a higher degree of engagement. Our Culture Cleveland Avenue (CAE) is a Title I elementary school located in the Southeast Atlanta area with a population of approximately 406 PreK-5th grade scholars; 97% are African American and 3% Latino with a free and reduced lunch rate of 100%.
As stated, our STEM efforts began in 2013 with our GOALS (Giving Opportunities to Aspiring Leaders and Scholars) After-school Program. We understood the dynamics of our scholars, families and community and knew that they would not only benefit from the exposure of real world opportunities provided by the STEM program but, it would change their lives. We have seen the manifestation of our efforts move from initiating our first STEM After-School Program into incorporating a blossoming STEM Summer Camp. Our momentum did not slow down there. We have progressed from merely getting our feet wet with STEM Fridays into testing the waters with teacher curriculum planning. Now, in 2018 we are jumping all in with a full functioning school-wide STEM program.
Over the past 4 years, we have promoted over 260 5th grade scholars and impacted over 600 scholars with a new understanding about life and careers, real world application, and how to think creatively and critically. Through STEM we have taught them to think as producers and innovators. During this time our scholars have had the opportunity to not only participate in the school-wide, district and state fairs but place at high levels of distinction for Science, Engineering and Technology. In 2018 three 5th grade scholars placed 2nd place in the statewide Technology Fair in Animation and Digital Game Design. This was a major accomplishment for our scholars and school.
Our school-wide focus is Urban Agriculture and Environmental Science. CAE’s mantra is “Making a Clean Green Difference”. Scholars are being exposed to urban agriculture in ways that they could only imagine. Within the CAE community there is often a lack of healthy food options and alternatives so families are forced to often make unwise food choices. Scholars have been able to grow their own fruits, vegetables and herbs within their classroom as well as in 2 outdoor and 4 indoor hydroponic gardens. Our initiative is to create a culture for healthy living and eating within the urban community.
CAE has 406 students, consisting of 54% boys and 46% girls. It is important to note that the student body is diverse in racial makeup, as well as ethnicity. A breakdown of student demographics is as follows: 93% African American; 5% Hispanic; and 1% Multiracial. It is also important to note that 5% of our student body are English Language (EL) learners; 16% are Special Education students; and 100% of the student population are identified as economically disadvantaged as determined by the number of students who receive Free and Reduced Lunch.
CAE's Purpose The purpose of CAE is to serve as a collaborative learning community that engages students, staff, and parents towards the goal of improved academic achievement. The mission of Cleveland Avenue Elementary School is to provide a supportive learning environment which fosters intellectual, social-emotional and creative growth in order to prepare every scholar for college and careers success. Our vision is to become a high-performing STEM school where teaching and learning are connected to real-world experiences and every child is nurtured in a caring culture of trust and collaboration, while being challenged to reach their highest potential. It is our belief that exposure coupled with experience will produce excellent scholars and life-long learners. It was with this thinking that sparked the desire to embark upon our journey to engaging our scholars in STEM.
We firmly believe that the learning that occurs in elementary school builds the foundation essential for college and career readiness. A core belief of CAE is that every student can succeed. Our highly qualified teachers employ instructional practices which meet the needs of individual students. It is a major priority at our school that teachers and staff engage in a continuous process for improving student achievement. Data analysis, goal setting, and research-based strategic actions are the driving force behind efforts to increase student learning outcomes.
CAE offers the following programs as a means to achieve the school’s purpose: Student Support Team (SST); Special Education Program; English Language Program (EL); Counseling Program; and an after-school tutorial and summer enrichment program, Giving Opportunities to Aspiring Leaders and Scholars Academy (GOALS). Notable Achievements During 2016-2017 CAE received the Governor's Office of Student Achievement Gold Award for obtaining high student growth. During 2017-2018 we ranked #1 for having the highest CCRPI progress percentile points in the district. CAE also ranked in the top quartile of elementary schools for having the highest CCRPI score over a three year period and #1 in the South Atlanta cluster. We have been a "Beating The Odds" school for two years in a row. We have progressively demonstrated growth by being strategic in the following areas. We monitor daily student attendance to ensure every child is present. When students are absent we communicate with parents, identify root causes and provide support (uniforms, housing vouchers, transportation,etc.) and solutions.
Students in the Never Been Absent (NBA) club have monthly celebrations. We provide daily incentives through random drawings. Teachers utilize a vetted curriculum tool. Weekly professional development is provided to teachers during collaborative planning sessions and targeted learning communities to ensure internalization of the lesson and receive resources for effective implementation. Teachers integrate all subject areas, utilize the STEM engineering process, and develop Problem Based Learning (PBL) units. Students are then challenged to complete and present performance tasks aligned to the standards. Teachers provide students with daily exit tickets. They analyze these assessments during weekly data meetings to identify misconceptions. Coaches support teachers in the development of reteach lessons to clarify those misconceptions.
Daily classroom observations are conducted to provide teachers with real-time feedback to make instructional adjustments. The teacher is then coached on identifying the highest leverage action step to make instructional adjustments to increase rigor. We maximize every instructional minute by providing students with enrichment/remediation sessions, which are focused on reading and math.
We are also the proud recipients of the 2018-2019 Technology Association of Georgia (TAG) STEM Awards. The Technology Association of Georgia and Tag Education Collaborative recognizes innovative STEM curriculum and programs in Elementary Schools that promote STEM Education in the classroom and expand STEM skills while helping to point students towards productive technology related careers.
In recent years CAE has increased the number of extracurricular, service, and leadership opportunities available to students. Extracurricular activities include Girl Scouts, Lego League, Reading Bowl, STEM Gems, Jr. Beta Club, Technology Club, WCAE News Team and the CAE Chorus. In 2017-2019, the Technology Club advanced to the State Competition for three consecutive years and placed each time. During the after school and summer programs students are exposed to STEAM enrichment activities that focus on critical thinking skills. Leadership opportunities for students include Safety Patrol, Green Team, and Beta Club. Students in these groups hold a variety of leadership roles in the school and participate in leading several service projects for the school throughout the year. CAE operates a successful after school and summer program, GOALS Academy. The program serves approximately 120 students daily and 75 students during the summer. Students enrolled in the after school program receive homework support and enrichment activities in STEAM, Gardening, Physical Education, and Cooking.
Areas of Opportunity We will continue to work towards the expansion of our STEM program. More specifically, we will continue to work towards increased representation of girls in our STEM clubs and the provision of 1:1 technology for all students. Furthermore, we will continue to work to strengthen our relationships with community partners that aid in the advancement of STEM knowledge for our students. We have found that the increase in technology and the expansion of bringing STEM experts inside the classroom is major area of opportunity.
CAE will continue to work diligently to increase the number of students scoring proficient and distinguished on the Georgia Milestones. The focus is not only on increasing achievement levels for lower performing students, but for high achieving students as well. Teachers will continue to make data-based decisions to differentiate instruction so that all levels of students can realize gains in learning. Finally, the school will continue to work towards the implementation of STEM with fidelity. This has been a goal of our school for the past 5 years and will continue with this goal as it has helped us to go deeper with teaching and learning.
CAE will continue to strive to increase the parental engagement and the involvement of the ESOL and Special Education population in school activities. In addition, the school will be mindful of increasing the inclusiveness of stakeholders without easy access to technology in school communications.
School leadership and staff will continue to engage in best practices surrounding the implementation of STEM experiences, curriculum, instruction, and assessment to maintain a position of strength in student achievement. To further improve, school staff will aim to continuously and consistently analyze school data to guide instruction and formulate action plans.
Sustainability In order to sustain our focus and the implementation of STEM, we will continue with the following:
Weekly grade level planning, Spring and Summer STEM Retreat Planning, Monthly STEM Lead Team Meetings, and Monthly Instructional Planning Meetings with School Administration to focus on STEM learning and experiences
Utilization of the Engineering Design Process across the curriculum
The use of Rubrics and Interactive Notebooks
Cultivating our relationships with Community Partners and Patrons so that students are provided with real world experiences both inside and outside of the classroom
Maintain our focus on our target population of girls, with the addition of girl specific STEM opportunities
Maintain our relationship with the District's Professional Learning and Career Technology Department as they ensure that we are up to date on Professional Development offerings and technology additions among STEM cohort schools
Use of digital resources so that students can demonstrate their learning to peers, parents, teachers, and experts. The use of digital resources also promotes self directed learning and problem solving.
Continued collaboration among teachers to plan rich, meaningful STEM lessons that allow students to make personal choices in their learning while also engaging collaboration with their peers.
A continued focus on student opportunity to engage in STEM experiences and competitions after school. This includes, but is not limited to the GOALS Academy After School and Summer Program, Girl Scouts, Lego League, STEAM Clubs, and the Science, Technology and Engineering Fairs.
A continued commitment to hosting community events that promote STEM among families such as PBL Showcase Nights.
Conclusion Our journey through STEM has helped us to go deeper with teaching and learning. It is one that helped us to realize strong academic gains in the areas of Science and Math. It is also a journey that may not have always been easy or smooth, but rewarding. We remain focused on our plan to implement STEM with consistency and fidelity in our building. As we implement our plan and adhere to the AdvancED STEM standards, we will continue with the great things that we are doing. Our ultimate goal in this entire process is to prepare our students to compete in a global society. We are fully committed to preparing our students for post secondary options and workforce readiness, and we realize that STEM is the path in which our students can get there.