Action Research Project
Academic Progress from Retention and Transitional 1st Programs
Setting the Foundation
During meetings with site mentors and teachers the issue of whether Transitional 1st or traditional retention leads to improved academic performance in the long term was a concern. The focus of this research is to gain insight on the effectiveness of both retention and a Transitional 1st program at an early age such as Kindergarten through 2nd grade. The focus of this action research revolves around this question: What is the relationship between students who were part of a Transitional-First Grade (T1) class or retained in elementary and their success at the end of middle school or in high school?
I will use data from permanent grade cards, class rankings, and surveys as well as internet searches on the topic of retention and Transitional 1st. Teachers, administration, and parents want evidence to weigh when deciding if T1 is a proper place for their students, the program to continue, and/or if an extra year produces a better long term achievement result.
From initial literature review, findings include that an extra academic year does not provide increased achievement compared to a student’s pier group at matriculation from high school. However, increases in achievement were noted in the short term. While initial qualitative data from teachers in our school includes a positive outlook, the goal of this study is to see if the quantitative data or research matches the qualitative data. This information from parents and students will be an additional valued source.
Developing Deeper Understanding
To better understand the viewpoints of the key stakeholders, surveys are planned to find out their thoughts and opinions of the results of retention or Transitional 1st and the effects it has had on their performance as a student or their child’s performance if they are a parent. Do parents and students think the extra year provided maturity that was necessary to maintain focus on class or was the academic year a “catch-up” that was needed to stay on track. The survey results will help me gain a clearer picture of parent and student views and how performance in school was affected.
Engaging in Self-Reflection
As I acquire and prepare data I may find variables in the data that may affect the results of my research. I may have to revise my plan or add other methods of gathering data. I plan to continue to collaborate and discuss the progress of the research with my site administrator, other administrators, and teachers. I expect other questions to arise as I research and analyze data. How does being older in the class affect other areas in the school environment such as athletics or other extra-curricular activities? Does late entry have the same results?
Exploring Programmatic Patterns
Throughout the research process, I will discuss my findings with my site supervisor to solicit her opinions concerning the positives and negatives of the research. I will seek her collaboration and guidance if improvements to the research and if any modifications of the research are necessary. By communicating the progress, it will help ensure my action research plan stays on track and is effectively completed.
The purpose of this study is to determine if an extra year by retention or a Transitional 1st leads to greater student achievement at the end of middle school and high school. The main goal of this study is greater student achievement and to determine the perception of retention and Transitional 1st programs. When students fall behind in achievement, their overall perception of themselves and their ability for success is at risk. The research gathered from the state test score data, class rankings, surveys, and internet literature research will be compared. Through collaboration with administration and teachers we will determine if any fine-tuning is needed to provide the desired information. The timeline is five months to collect data, analyze, and share it. Plan progress will be closely monitored and any part of the plan can be revised and improved based on these observations.
Taking Action for School Improvement
Collaboration with administrators and teachers will help me stay focused to complete the action research study. The Harris et al. text, Tool 7.1 Action Planning Template, p. 85 will be used to guide the implementation of the research project. As the data is collected, I will format it into charts, graphs, and summarize the finding into a final paper.
A summary report will be created outlining the results of the action research project and will be shared with administrators and school staff. Any result, whether positive or negative, will be shared so the results can influence and/or encourage the decisions of individual students’ retention or Transitional 1st program needs. This decision may result in justification for the reinstatement of the Transitional 1st program and Title 1 funds being allocated toward this program. On the contrary, if there is not strong support, allocation of funds may be directed toward tutoring programs.