2020 National Blue Ribbon Application
Alliance Judy Ivie Burton Technology Academy High School, also known as Burton Tech, was founded in 2005. Since our inception, Burton Tech has strived to provide exceptional educational services to our traditionally underserved and underperforming South Los Angeles Community. The administration, faculty and staff make it a priority to ensure that every scholar gets the quality education to which they are entitled. Our primary goal is to prepare all scholars to attend and graduate from college. We are also committed to promoting self-respect and social responsibility on a daily basis with each of our scholars. At Burton Tech, students feel empowered and families are valued. We work with our elected officials to give our families a voice that helps them demand the resources they need. Our educational model is based on key elements including a culture of high expectations for all scholars, small and personalized learning communities, an extended school day and year, a team of highly qualified teachers and school leaders, and parents as partners in the success of our scholars.
All Burton Tech scholars engage in an academically challenging program that requires them to meet the University of California and California State University "A-G" undergraduate admission requirements. We are committed to creating life-long learners for the 21st century through student-centered instruction that makes academics engaging, personal, and relevant. The school integrates technology through multimedia instruction, allowing scholars to learn with technology the way they live with technology. Our curriculum, instructional methodology, and environment are designed to instill and develop critical skills in our scholars that will enable them to succeed in college and in their chosen career and be self-directed learnings, highly skilled critical thinkers and effective communicators throughout their lives.
Additionally, our school has implemented a high level of rigor to ensure students are prepared for university level work. We worked to increase the number of AP classes from 7 to 12 AP Classes, to give those high performing students the opportunity to further succeed and expand their familiarization with college level work. In addition, this year we added the AP Capstone, to give students the opportunity to obtain an AP Diploma. We didn’t stop here, we realized that our top students were capable of so much more, and the decision to open up a multi-variable class was made. We are the only highschool in our area to offer this course, and this sets us apart from other high performing high schools. In addition to our AP Classes, we are a dual-enrollment school. Finally, we realized that we had support for our low performers and high rigor classes for our top performers, but we still had many students who were in the middle. As part of our mission we want to ensure that all students have the same opportunity to reach their full potential. This meant we had to look for a program that would target our middle performing students and would push them to the next level, this program was AVID. AVID provides students the ability to learn skills that would ensure they succeed in higher rigor classes and beyond their high school career.
Finally, Burton Tech works to ensure that the social emotional needs of students, parents, and staff are given the importance they deserve. Burton Tech is currently piloting a new schedule that allows students to have Office Hours, a period where they review and practice previously taught lessons with their teachers. Our school is located in an area with the second highest homicide rate in LA County, and we quickly realized that students were exposing themselves to a risk by staying after school to participate in tutoring or other after school services. Our new schedule allows students to take advantage of tutoring but also participate in extracurricular activities, with the hope to reduce both teacher and student burnout, since they have more time to prepare for the next day. We also understand the socio-emotional support that our families face. We have 3 academic counselors, a school psychologist and social worker with the hopes of providing students with the resources and opportunities to become the best version of themselves. Our school social worker and psychologist work together to develop strategies to help support our students. Our school is currently piloting Calm Classroom, a program where students and teachers take 5 minutes to meditate or partake in an emotional strategic exercise. We hope that by providing multiple strategies as well as multiple trusted individuals, our students can apply these strategies to their day to day lives.
While Burton Tech has not yet been recognized as a Blue Ribbon school, we have received the following recognitions: 2018 and 2019 AP CSP Female Diversity Award, the 2019 Top Los Angeles Public School for Underserved Students, STEAM Award, and we were recognized as a 2019 California Distinguished school.
Part IV. Curriculum and Instruction
- Core Curriculum, Instructional, and Assessment
Students at Burton Tech participate in a rigorous academic program that teachers problem solving, critical thinking, and exceptional communication skills. We strongly believe in setting high expectations for teaching and learning, but also in supporting teachers and scholars in meeting those expectations. Our primary goal is to ensure that students are eligible to get into a college; therefore, all students, unless their IEP indicates something different, are enrolled and complete rigorous A-G courses. Teachers use California Common Core State Standards based rubrics to measure content and skill mastery of the subject. Burton Tech works to ensure that students are able to challenge themselves academically and therefore encourages students who are excelling to join AP Classes. In addition, all students have access to a macbook in every classroom, which allows teachers to incorporate technology into their lessons. Technology is a useful tool in our school and its use ranges from researched based projects to online support like Khan Academy.
One of the biggest factors in our academic success is the collaboration that takes place, not only between teachers, but amongst students, parents, and admin. Teachers are encouraged to share best practices with each other and in the case of English and Math, there is a content specialist that helps facilitate these collaboration sessions. Students are encouraged to help each other, we can see this implemented in their group work, but also during office hours, where students have the ability to ask questions and support each other. Finally there is an open line of communication between parents and the school which allows concerns to be handled promptly. This communication allows the school to work alongside parents to best support the most vulnerable students. Teachers, Staff, and parents are able to work together to ensure that nothing gets in between the students' education.
1b. Reading/English Language Arts
Burton Tech focuses on providing a rigorous literacy based instruction that follows the California Common Core Reading,Writing, and Speaking/Listening Standards. All 9th and 10th grade students are enrolled in either Common Core (CC) English or CC English Honors for their respective grade levels. All 11th grade students are enrolled in either CC English 11 or AP English Language and Composition. Finally, 12th grade students are enrolled in either CSU Expository Reading and Writing or AP English Literature and Composition. Additionally we offer English Language Development (ELD), to support our English Learners and English 9 Support to help struggling readers and writers.
The core English classes for grades 9 to 11 utilize HMH Collections to provide students with a wide range of grade appropriate readings that are utilized in class and independently. Teachers design text-dependent questions to help students analyze and understand complex texts. Students are expected to collaborate in discussions as they allow students to better comprehend the material while also developing their listening, speaking, and critical thinking skills. To strengthen their writing, students complete research based projects that allow them to expand their understanding of a text by comparing it to a contemporary issue, understanding the context in which it was written, or expanding on an idea presented in the text. For English 12, students utilize the Expository Reading and Writing Curriculum (ERWC) developed and published by California State University. Students focus on reading rhetorically and producing expository essays. Burton Tech focuses on preparing students to produce and handle college level work, and the ERWC allows 12 graders to be introduced into the demands of college with guidance and support. AP Students have a similar workload, but also use CollegeBoard materials and resources.
In order to fill the gaps in the curriculum, specifically for English Learners, teachers utilize online platforms such as Achieve3000, Membean, and CommonLit to provide additional scaffolding and support for English Learners and other struggling readers and writers. The English Department works in collaboration with the ELD and Special Education Department (SPED) to provide specific feedback and support to each group. An array of formative assessments include text-dependent questions and exit tickets which informs the following lesson. Teachers meet once a week to analyze these exit tickets to identify gaps in learning. Additionally, students take a network provided summative assessment at the end of each year, which evaluates student proficiency in common core standards for literal and informal text as applied to four or five grade level texts. Smarter Balanced assessments are administered in the form of the ICA for grade 10 and the summative assessment for grade 11. The data from both of these summative assessments are used to make and monitor decisions regarding lesson designs, differentiation between students, and course offerings. Finally, students complete 3 Lexile, 3 Interim, and 4-6 Unit assessments throughout the year to track understanding and progress between students. After each Interim, teachers and admin take two days to analyze data and identify student achievement gaps.
Burton Tech focuses on providing a rigorous conceptual understanding, procedural fluency, and application of mathematics, using the College Preparatory Mathematics (CPM) curriculum while adhering to the California Common Core Standards. All 9th and 10th grade students are enrolled in Common Core (CC) Integrated Math 1 or CC Integrated Math 2, depending on their grade level. 11th Grade students are either enrolled in CC Integrated Math 3, Honors Precalculus, AP Calculus AB or AP Calculus BC. 12th Grade students are either enrolled in Precalculus, AP Calculus AB, AP Calculus BC, Statistics or Honors Multivariable Calculus. Additionally, we offer Math 9 support, to help support our lowest performing students.
The pacing of our math teachers, directly aligns with that of the CPM curriculum. Across all math classes there is a heavy emphasis on discussion, analysing and computing/problem solving. Teachers use real-life open-ended challenging tasks, to help students understand the real life application of the concepts they are learning. The CPM curriculum presents problems that expose scholars to mathematical tasks that require problem solving skills and literacy skills such as reading, annotating, and analyzing data. In collaboration with peers, students further reinforce their understanding of the material. In order to minimize learning gaps, the math department works in collaboration with the English Language Development Teacher and Special Education Department (SPED) to provide specific feedback and support to each group. The math department makes use of online platforms including Desmos, RevK12, and Khan Academy. Additionally, the math department offers additional tutoring hours after school, 1 day a week. During these tutoring hours, students have the opportunity to work with their math teachers in addition to the content specialist, to help them understand the material covered during class.
An array of formative assessments include weekly quizzes, group participation assessments, daily exit tickets, and Chapter CAASPP aligned performance tasks. The math department then meets weekly to identify common trends, gaps, subgroup proficiency levels, and develop a plan to provide feedback for students. Additionally, students take 3 Interim assessments throughout the year and summative chapter tests to collect data on how students are performing and mastering the material being taught. After each Interim teachers and admin take two days to analyze the data and identify achievement gaps. Teachers use the data from the first two Interims and summative chapter tests to modify teaching and provide students multiple opportunities to understand their data, mistakes, then approach the standard in an alternative way. This strategy helps us identify students that may need extra support, and allows teachers to intervene and implement strategies to help all students. All points of data are then utilized to identify the high, low and mid performing students; helping the school best serve their needs. High performing students are introduced to the enrichment pathway that will allow them to complete either Calculus BC or Multivariable Calculus by their senior year. For Mid and low performers, the math department works in collaboration with other teachers and admin to provide different strategies or resources for students.
Burton Tech provides rigorous science classes that utilize the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), and prepares students for the California Science Test (CAST). The science department follows the three course model proposed in the Science Framework by the California Department of Education. This is an interdisciplinary model that integrates Earth Science Standards (ESS) into Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. All 9th grade students are enrolled in The Living Earth, while 10th grade students are enrolled in Chemistry in the Earth System. 11th grade students are enrolled in either Physics of the Universe, Physics Honors, or AP Environmental Science. Finally, 12th grade students are enrolled in either Environmental Science, AP Environmental Science, or AP Biology.
Science lessons center around phenomena and 3 dimensions of learning through the 5E Lesson Cycle (Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate). All classes use project based learning to ensure that students have the opportunity to actively understand the concepts, hypothesize, and put what they learn to practice in their everyday lives. An example of this is the CSTLC Clean Tech Competition, every year 12th grade students compete internationally to solve an issue proposed using the different STEM areas; Last year, 3 groups from Burton Tech made it to the top 10 in their respective category.
An array of formative assessments include exit slips, discussions, and class participation. Based on the results, teachers create subgroups to address misconceptions and allow students to conduct error analysis. In addition 3 Interim assessments are given throughout the year. After each Interim teachers and admin take two days to analyze the data and identify achievement gaps. During these two days teachers create plans to reteach or spiral back on skills that need practice. This time is also used to collaborate with the ELD and SPED department to provide appropriate accommodations and supports.
1e. Social studies/history/civic learning and engagement
Burton Tech offers a rigorous selection of social science classes that adhere to the California State Standards. All 10th grade students are enrolled in World History, 11th grade students are enrolled in either US History or AP US History, and 12th grade students are enrolled in Civics/Economics, or AP US Government. All social science classes use critical reading to analyze and evaluate primary and secondary documents. Additionally, the social science department utilizes technology, in particular short videos, and google classroom to supplement course content and provide personalized feedback. Students are expected to write document based essays and examine different historical author’s claims, reasoning and evidence. The department works together to ensure that students are able to use and grow the skills learned in each grade level and continue to grow as they progress. Finally, the social studies department includes research based projects that require students to develop their understanding of different standards, and draw connections to contemporary events and issues within their community. Some examples of civic projects that our students have completed in the past include voter registrations and immigration workshops.
The social science department utilizes formative assessments in the form of exit slips and multiple choice quizzes and exams. The department meets weekly to analyze the results and identify trends or areas of improvement. Summative written assignments are assigned where students have to demonstrate understanding of the concepts taught in class and their ability to expand on such topics. Three times a year, there is a two-day period where teachers are able to analyze both summative and formative sources of data. During these two days teachers create plans to reteach or spiral back on skills that need practice. This time is also used to collaborate with the ELD and SPED department to provide appropriate accommodations and supports.
1f. For secondary schools:
In order to ensure that our students are college and career ready, Burton Tech provides a rigorous academic program that teaches problem solving, critical thinking, and communication skills. Burton Tech has continuously examined and adjusted our curriculum and classes to best support and prepare students for the next part of their academic career. An example of this was the addition of AVID, which teaches students strategies such as Cornell note taking, organization, test-taking study skills, tutorials and development of effective writing and presentation skills. Another example is the College Prep seminar where students focus on different topics including college research, SAT and ACT preparation, independent living guidance, time prioritization and management.
In addition to providing students with the opportunity to learn different skills that can help them prepare for college and their career, Burton Tech exposes students to different career opportunities. Taking advantage of the Business Entrepreneurship class to introduce students to different careers. In the past students have visited Nickelodeon studios and were introduced to different career choices from animators, to voice actors, and stage crew. Burton Tech was also selected to participate in the national GEAR UP grant. This grant follows students from their 8th grade year to their first year in college. It provides extra funding to expose students to different colleges and prepare them for different careers. In the past two years our GEAR UP cohort has been able to visit colleges in New Orleans and Oregon. Finally, counseling staff work alongside students and help them identify their strengths and explore possible subject interests. Our students are encouraged to take classes that are of possible interest, and Burton Tech works to provide students with as many options as possible. Teachers work to ensure scholars become critical thinkers that can learn and apply skills to different problems.
- Other Curriculum Areas
Burton Tech students have the opportunity to take Art or Speech and Theater to fulfill their Visual and Performing Arts requirement, next school year we will implement AP Studio Art. Students can enroll in Speech and Theater beginning their 9th grade year, and while most 11th graders take Art, this class is open to all grade levels. Both of these classes adhere to the California Standards for Visual and Performing arts and use project-based learning, which require students to be iengage in the process of creating, performing/presenting, responding, and connecting. Students develop their creativity, critical thinking, communication, and collaborative skills as creators, performers, and audience members.
9th Grade students are enrolled in Introduction to Kinesiology, fulfilling their physical education requirement. The Intro to Kinesiology class is designed to give students the opportunity to learn through a comprehensive sequentially planned Kinesiology and Physical Education program in accordance with the Common Core Standards set by California. Students are empowered to make healthy choices and are taught to recognize how physical education can affect their psychological and socioemotional well being. Students work with peers and a teacher to set healthy physical goals and learn the study of human movement and of systems, factors, and principles involved in human development.
Beginning in their 9th grade year, all students are enrolled in one of the following Spanish classes: Spanish 1 or 2, or Spanish Native Speakers 1, 2, or 3. Following their 10th grade year students either follow the sequence detailed above or have the option to take AP Spanish Language or AP Spanish Literature. Students are required to practice and develop their writing, reading, speaking, and auditory skills. In addition, the Spanish Department develops cross-curricular lessons with themes including history, art, music, global and social issues, and literature. Students then have an opportunity not only to practice the language but also to learn about culture and traditions associated with Spanish.
Burton Tech offers Exploring Computer Science for students beginning their 9th grade year, if a student is interested in further continuing their education in this field they may take AP Computer Science Principles beginning their 10th grade year. Both of these classes adhere to the Standards set by California. Exploring computer science introduces students to basic concepts of computer use and coding. AP advances student knowledge more in depth to programming and coding.
In addition to the courses mentioned above, students may also enroll in the following classes: AVID, College Prep Seminar, Business Entrepreneurship, Criminal Justice, Economics, online Apex-AP Psychology, and AP Seminar. All of these classes adhere to the California set Standards. AVID focuses on teaching 9-11 grade students strategies such as Cornell note taking, organization, test-taking study skills, tutorials and development of effective writing and presentation skills. In College Prep Seminar, the focus is on teaching 9-11 grade college level strategies, consisting of the application and financial aid processes, as well as successful completion of standardized tests for admission. Business Entrepreneurship is offered to 12 grade students, the course is designed to introduce high school students to business, via field trips to business partnerships, opening an environment where students can learn how different skills can be used across the different sectors in a business. In Criminal Justice, students grades 9-11, have the opportunity to explore the american criminal justice system, and collaborate with peers to further see its role in contemporary issues our communities face. Economics and Apex-AP Psychology, are both classes opened to 12 grade students. The economics class provides students with an overview into finance, investments, income inequality, as well as the government’s influence within these systems. Students therefore gain skills that can help them determine the best economic pathway for them to follow. Apex-AP Psychology provides students with an overview of current psychological research methods, theories, and psychological concepts. Students learn how to gather information and form meaningful syntheses from their research. Finally we have begun to implement AP Seminar, a class that will be open to students 9-11 grade. This course encourages students to demonstrate critical thinking, collaboration, and academic research skills on topics of the student's choosing. The main goal of this program is to open the door for our students to qualify for the AP Diploma. We are one of the few schools in our area participating in this program.
- Academic Supports
Majority of students who come to Burton Tech often perform below grade level across multiple content areas. All incoming 9th grade students participate in a summer bridge program, where students review and are evaluated on previously learned material. The results from these assessments are utilized to place students in similar performance level classes maximizing the amount of support students receive. Beginning with 9th graders Burton Tech implements early support using systems like Math 180 and Read 180. Both are researched based intervention curriculum, that provides students with the opportunity to review key Math and English topics from previous grades. Student progress is then monitored regularly using quantiles in Math 180 and lexile levels in Read 180. Both of these programs provide teachers with valuable information that can help them better plan their lessons to support struggling students Additionally, Burton Tech offers support classes for both English and Math during 9th grade. During these classes students have the opportunity to further practice skills from previous grade levels as well as continue to reinforce new information learned in their core classes. By addressing content gaps early, we hope to support students progress through the following grades. After 9th grade, we continue to regularly monitor student success both through performance inside the classroom and interim exams.
A designated assistant principal regularly meets with the academic counseling team to do grade checks and follow ups with low performing students. Parents are provided with three week progress reports to ensure that Parents are informed of the performance of students. This strategy allows teachers to work in collaboration with parents to ensure that low performing students continuously practice and complete assignments that will help them improve their performance. Finally, intensive support such as summer school and credit recovery are offered for students who continue to struggle.
3b. Students performing above grade level
Burton Tech works hard to ensure it supports the needs of all scholars. In order to better support those who are above grade level, Burton Tech participates in the College Board Advanced Placement Program. Currently, 12 AP courses are being offered with two additional courses, AP Studio Art and AP Research, being offered in the 2020-2021 school year. Additionally, Burton Tech participates in the College Board AP Capstone Diploma program, which provides students with the ability to strive to obtain one of the most prestigious high school diploma awards in the nation. It is important to highlight that in order to receive this diploma students must pass AP Seminar, AP Research, and 5 additional AP tests.
In addition to our AP courses, Burton Tech is able to offer a math enrichment program, during summers and after school, that gives high performing students the ability to take Multivariable Calculus. This class equates to sophomore level mathematics’ topics in college and has a prerequisite of AP Calculus BC. Burton Tech is one of very few Title I schools in Southern California that are able to offer this course for our high performing students. Other courses available to high performing students include Computer Science, Introduction to Business, and STEM classes.
Finally, we are currently working to create a partnership with Los Angeles Southwest College (LASC) to provide dual enrollment coursework after school. Students would gain both college credit and certification by attending and passing these college classes. In the past a partnership existed with East Los Angeles College, however, LASC is much closer to our school allowing students easier access to academic records and resources. If a student is able to complete all required courses for graduation they are often encouraged to take AP Classes available or enroll in a dual enrollment course.
3c. Special education
In order to facilitate instruction to meet the needs of all students, general education teachers are trained to differentiate lessons through professional development opportunities and collaboration with the Special Education Department (SPED). The SPED team meets weekly with the Math and English Departments, to collaborate on lesson plans, help adapt instruction to meet the needs of students with disabilities, and ensure appropriate accommodations are integrated into the lesson for students that require them. Additionally, the SPED team attends grade-level meetings to assist and design differentiated instruction and materials with general education teachers across different departments. On a weekly basis, the SPED team tracks the grades of students with disabilities. Students that are not passing one or more classes are offered the option to stay for after school tutoring and receive help from one of SPED team members. Students can review new or previously learned material in addition to receiving homework help. When appropriate, the SPED department collaborates with Parents/Guardians to closely monitor student's progress.
Burton Tech offers a resource lab class that focuses on reading intervention, in a smaller classroom setting. Other SPED team members provide push-in services in both English and Math classes to support students one-on-one or in small groups. In an effort to close the achievement gap, the Special Education teachers work closely with the school’s testing coordinator to ensure students with disabilities receive accommodations on assessments. When developing IEPs, the needs of each individual student is extensively evaluated to ensure that each student is provided the appropriate accommodations needed for them to successfully access assessments. After both practice assessments and formal assessments, the Special Education team meets with department heads and the school’s English instructional coach and Math instructional coach to analyze assessment data and create support plans to support student success on upcoming assessments.
3d. ELLs, if a special program or intervention is offered
In order to support our English Language Learners (ELL), Burton Tech works with an English Language Development (ELD) teacher and an ELD Aid to help provide support to these students. Currently, Burton Tech offers ELD classes level 1 through 4 in order to support the different levels of EL students. A full-time ELD teacher is responsible for providing services and instruction to our ELL. Our ELD 3 and 4 classes are approved as full English classes; however, Burton Tech is a full inclusion school and we understand the importance of our EL students still participating in their grade level English classes. In order to help students succeed, our ELD teacher collaborates with their grade level English teachers in order to align standards and better support students. Some technological platforms used to support EL students include System 44 and English 3D, both of which help students with their language proficiency.
Additionally, Burton Tech counts with a full-time ELD instructional Aid, which serves as a push-in support for EL students. Our ELD aid works in collaboration with general education teachers to plan lessons that provide necessary interventions and support. Some of the technological supports Burton Tech utilizes with EL students include Achieve3000, Membean, and CommonLit for English, and Desmos, RevK12, and Khan Academy for Math. The last key component to support EL students lies within our English Learner Parent Committee (ELPC). The ELPC works in collaboration with an administrator to identify school goals, objectives and priorities regarding the EL program. One of the most important contributions of the ELPC, lies within the feedback parents provide regarding our current services. Additionally, the ELPC, helps educate parents on what it truly means for a student to be classified as an English Learner. This collaboration allows parents to closely monitor and support their students academically.
3e. Other populations
Burton Tech is dedicated to support all student populations. Burton Tech currently provides support for Homeless and Foster students as well as a few immigrant families. We currently have a homeless and foster liaison, trained on best practices, who provides support for students and families who may be going through transitional or limited housing. A meeting with the family is held to determine how the school can best provide support that would allow students to continue learning. Some examples of support include, but are not limited to, Uniforms, Bus Passes, AP and SAT Exam Fees, and School Supplies. This liaison also works in collaboration with all stakeholders including, student, family, teacher, administration, and social worker, to help identify areas of academic and emotional support for the student and their family.
In addition to our homeless and foster students, Burton tech also serves immigrant students and their families. Most of our newcomer students have limited understanding of the English Language. Burton Tech works with our English Language Development (ELD) Teacher and ELD Aid, to help support these students in their regular classes. All newcomers are enrolled in an ELD Class where different strategies and supports are implemented in collaboration with teachers to continue expanding student knowledge. Our ELD Aid works with teachers to provide materials that can help a student better comprehend the classroom this includes but is not limited to translated materials and reading. Our ELD Aid also works one-on-one with newcomer students to encourage and practice their use of the english language. Burton Tech, works with newcomer students to ensure that they are able to adapt and participate in their classes to the best of their ability. This includes the counseling department working to schedule newcomer students, with bilingual teachers as a way to help facilitate communication between them.
Part V. School Climate and Culture
- Engaging Students
Burton Tech is a small school that works to fulfill the socioemotional needs students may have while motivating them to constantly challenge themselves. Our school focuses on establishing a trusting partnership with our students, to ensure that they feel comfortable if any issues arise. Starting from the first week of summer bridge our school utilizes our Mentors and Protectors Advisory (MAPS), to give new students a tour of the school allowing them to connect with each other and meet new friends. During the first week of school, this group then ensures that no student sits alone during lunch, to ensure that all students feel welcome and encourage them to meet their peers. In addition to the MAPS advisory, Burton Tech also works alongside Student Council, to support student led activities such as spirit week, dances, and different school assemblies. Burton Tech recognizes the importance of celebrating student achievement, therefore, we schedule school wide assemblies for college commitment day, testing pep rallies, and appreciation events. We have been working to incorporate a Student Appreciation Day, where all school faculty thank our students for their hard work and willingness to work. In addition, we have begun to use Burton Tech points, a reward system where students can earn points to “buy” detention hours, school gear, as well as school materials such as markers. Students earn points by participating in class, supporting each other, or volunteering to help staff. By working as a team, Burton Tech hopes to create a motivating environment, where students feel supported and are encouraged to continue challenging themselves.
In order to provide socio-emotional support for our students, Burton Tech works with a school psychologist as well a school social worker. In collaboration with the academic counseling department, Burton Tech has begun to implement different programs to help students express their emotions and truly understand the meaning of their words. We use restorative justice circles, if any issue ever arises, to give all parties involved the opportunity to express themselves and be critical of their actions. We also have begun to implement Calm Classroom in every classroom, where a 5 minute meditation exercise is used as a way to decrease any anxiety or stress a student may bring into the classroom. This exercise allows students to enter the classroom with an open mind that allows them to focus and limits the distractions that may prevent a student from learning.
- Engaging Families and Community
Burton Tech is devoted to helping students and improving our community. We have successfully reached a high level of academic achievement by working with parents, students, teachers, and staff. Burton Tech, is a place where “parents as partners” is truly embraced by students, staff, and administration and can be seen in the everyday interaction that parents have in our school and community. We value parent input in the everyday decisions of the school, this is why we have established multiple opportunities for parents to have their voice heard including a School Site Council (SSC), English Learner Parent Committee (ELPC), and Principal’s Town Hall. During these meetings parents provide feedback on instructional programming at the school, student incentives, and community issues and events. Burton Tech understands that parents are a valuable piece of the puzzle when it comes to student learning. Parents serve as the main source of information to see if students are struggling with homework, seems confused, or maybe facing issues that the school is unaware of. In addition to the opportunities mentioned above, the school and teachers host Parent Workshop with topics ranging from mental health, grades, and advocacy. While we encourage parents to complete 40 volunteer hours, our main focus is on ensuring that parents and students have an open and positive line of communication.
Burton Tech is also a strong community partner and has worked to establish a safer and stronger community. Our strongest partnership has been with Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson, and we both have worked to change District 8 for the better. It all began with our parents advocating for a walklight, in the corner of our school, where thousands of cars constantly speed down Broadway posing a threat to student’s safety. After much work and collaboration from the parents and councilmember, we were able to install a walk light, for our community to cross the street safely. We then wanted to change the narrative that is often associated with South Central, and began with a Tree Lighting Ceremony. This is an event that has grown with time, and every year our community members anxiously await the start of the holiday season. Other partnerships that have supported this or other events include LAPD, LA Clippers, 93.5 KDAY, Fire Dept. Station 64, and Congresswoman Maxine Waters. Our mission at Burton Tech is to empower the parents and help them be active members of the community.
- Creating Professional Culture
Professional growth is critical to the continuous cycle of improvement of the school and it's professional staff. Burton Tech staff participate in Alliance district-wide PDs, which are aligned with academic standards, and support for student achievement and school improvement. Our teachers, administration and counselors meet weekly to discuss and collaborate on interim assessment data, upcoming examinations, and best practices. In addition to this weekly meeting, teachers alternate between grade level meetings and department meetings, to collaborate and target issues that they are seeing in both areas of their work. It is one of our practices to have counselors as well as the Special Education Department (SPED) join in on these meetings, to ensure that strategies for our most vulnerable students are implemented. Similarly, our English Language Development (ELD) teacher meets with the English Department to ensure that our English Learners population is being supported.
In addition to the professional development meetings described above, Burton Tech also implements Professional Learning Communities (PLC) for English and Math. Our first PLC began with the Math department, teachers were able to collaborate and build on each other's lessons, creating a standard and routine for students. Our CAASPP scores saw a dramatic increase, and we implemented the same model with the English Department. We are planning to implement a similar model for science and the rest of the departments at our school. PLCs, allow teachers to collaborate with each other and come up with strategies based on the data we are seeing from our students. Burton Tech also has a Math and English Coach, to provide teachers with another resource to provide guidance, strategies, and feedback to teachers.
Finally, all teachers are informally observed on a biweekly basis, and formally 4 times a year by an admin, who serves as their supervisor. After a formal evaluation, a one on one meeting is then scheduled to provide feedback and suggestions to continue teacher growth. In addition to the examples mentioned above, all admin at Burton Tech have an open door policy as a way to encourage discussions and suggestions between admin and staff. This also serves as a way to ensure staff morale is high as it provides an informal way for teachers to share positive updates, challenges they may be facing, or simply interact with the admin team. This helps ensure that teachers feel valued not only as a staff member, but as a person.
- School Leadership
Burton Tech's leadership structure is based on a collaborative model that works to provide all students regardless of race, socioeconomic status, and/or background with an equitable education. The current leadership team consists of the principal, three assistant principals, and the School’s Operations Manager (SOM). Assistant Principals are in charge of one of three things: student activities, student services, and student discipline. The assistant principal of student activities, serves as the representative between the student body and the administration. The assistant principal in charge of student services ensures communication and services are being provided by the counseling team, special education department, school social worker, and school psychologist. They also serve as the school’s Homeless Liaison, and ensures that students receive support and services from the school. Finally, an assistant principal in charge of student behavior, works to resolve any conflicts that may arise within students. They work in collaboration with the school social worker to provide students with efficient and positive strategies to resolve issues. Finally, in collaboration with the SOM, they serve as the school’ safety coordinator. The SOM, who is in charge of day to day operations, serves as a point of communication between the admin team and the office staff. The Principal oversees all aspects of the school, but is mainly responsible for ensuring that all teachers provide students with an accessible and rigorous education.
In addition, to the structure described above, there are smaller leadership groups that can be found throughout the school including: department chairs, School Site Council (SSC), and Student Council. Department chairs, set meetings to discuss teaching and learning goals for the corresponding subject. SSC, composed of the principal, teachers, parents, and students, is responsible for guiding decisions and providing input related to the allocation of Title I funds and ensuring they align with the school's Single Plan for student Achievement. Finally, the Student Council influences the culture of the student body and works to boost student morale.
The principal’s overall leadership approach is to listen to all stakeholders and work together to ensure that the school is providing students with as many opportunities as possible. In addition to all leadership teams, satisfaction surveys are given to students, parents, and staff after the first semester and at the end of the year. The admin team then works to address any concerns that may impact student learning, or are being mentioned across the board.
Part VI. Strategy for Academic Success
Burton Tech recognizes that student success is a combination of several different strategies. A key component to our school's success is the implementation of Professional Learning Communities (PLCs). Professional Learning communities allow for collaboration amongst colleagues, administration, and support staff. Teachers then have the opportunity to make connections between their instruction and student learning. These connections can continue to grow to the point where teachers are able to create a learning structure that expands on previously learned material. When teachers share and analyze formative assessments for each of their lessons, they receive continuous feedback from peers that can foster support for struggling students.
Burton Tech has implemented PLCs in both Math and English, with a heavy emphasis on analysis of formative assessments in the classroom. An ELA and Math Specialist help facilitate teacher collaboration to create lesson content and evaluate their own performance. PLCs in both of these content areas have had great success, with students constantly performing better in both formative and summative assessments. In the CAASPP examination, for example, our students have shown continuous growth, especially in math. This is in part credited to the collaboration that takes place between teachers, who are able to identify and create interventions for struggling students in a timely manner. For students that are continuously struggling with content, afterschool support is provided. In math, for example, this afterschool tutoring is led by the content specialist with support from math teachers. During this time, students have the ability of asking questions and receiving support from their math teacher in a smaller classroom setting. Additionally, teachers may learn and begin to implement effective strategies that are being used in their collegue’s classrooms.
The incorporation of other staff members have incredibly benefitted these PLCs. In addition to teachers in these communities collaboration between the English Language Development (ELD), Special Education (SPED), and Counseling Department, have provided a broader plan to support students. The ELD and SPED team work to ensure that proper accommodations and supports are provided for students to successfully complete the academic goals set by teachers. The counseling team then works to ensure that students are scheduled in level appropriate classes that maximize teacher supports. This open line of communication gives every stakeholder a sense of responsibility to ensure student success. The success we’ve had in Math and English, has inspired us to continue to implement PLCs across multiple areas in our school.