Sammye E. Coan Middle School earned the greatest gains in student achievement out of all 6th to 8th-grade Atlanta Public Schools traditional schools according to results of the Spring 2013 Criterion-Reference Competency Tests (CRCT). Dr. Betsy Bockman, who is beginning her second year as principal at Coan, along with her team, have been lauded for identifying strategies and purposeful interventions that have yielded student growth.
Coan’s progress reflects a cluster-wide effort as the entire Maynard Holbrook Jackson High School cluster worked collaboratively throughout the school year. The administrators and teachers met on a regular basis to analyze the data cluster wide, evaluate their teaching practices, and share strengths and weaknesses. In addition, students in 3rd through 8th grade in the cluster, including Coan, Toomer, Whitefoord, and Burgess-Peterson Academy, had an opportunity to attend 3 hours of classes on Saturdays. The Saturday classes were held for 20 weeks at Toomer Elementary, and had at least 100 students in attendance each session.
Last year, Coan started an Individual Learning Plan (ILP), an initiative where every student set personal goals to reach in each content area. The students and parents met with an advisor three times during the school year, to establish goals and monitor their progress. They used benchmarks from the CRCT, computer adaptive testing, and additional assessments to keep students focused on their goals during the school year. The ILP resulted in 80 percent of the students meeting or exceeding their goals last school year.
Mathematics continues to be the leading focus at Coan, as students now attend two math periods per day.
“Early on last year, we noticed that math was a serious deficit area for our students,” says Dr. Betsy Bockman, Principal at Coan. “We knew the students needed more math, and as a result, every student at Coan has two math periods per day.”
One math period is dedicated to grade level content, and the second math period is tailored to the needs of each student. This individualized math class is dynamic and flexible, offering both accelerated and remedial math.
Students who did not meet requirements and are retained this year will receive additional support to be successful. A graduation coach will work with each student, and a mentor will be available for additional guidance. The ILP will add more support to ensure academic success and improve school attendance and behavior.
“My experience at Coan was a struggle in the beginning, but my teachers and uncle always motivated me to put forth more effort,” says Racresha Brown, 8th grader at Coan Middle School. “I went to afterschool tutoring, did my homework, makeup work or any extra credit that would bring up my scores. When I grow up, I want to be a veterinarian or a pediatrician, so I’m willing to do all my work to reach my goals.”
Coan is looking forward to students and staff building on their success from last year, and continues to work closely with the Maynard Jackson High School cluster in providing the best educational environment for their students. They are committed to college and career readiness, and strive for every student to succeed.