Student success systems

Advancing Student Success

Student success systems are a way of organizing a school community to better support the academic progress, career and college transitions, and well-being of all students. 

By focusing on relationships, actionable data, and evidence-based practices, student success systems help educators and communities build a sense of belonging and school connection among students, address school-wide achievement patterns, and meet individual student needs.

High-quality student success systems are:

  • transformative,

  • inclusive,

  • fueled by strong relationships,

  • guided by improvement science, and

  • shaped by student-centered mindsets.

Student success systems provide schools with a unified system that integrates, extends, and increases the capacity of existing student support efforts, including early warning, on-track, and multi-tiered support systems.

Student success systems enable school teams to integrate measures of well-being, belonging, and connectedness with real time, research-based predictive indicators of academic success. Combined with teacher, school staff, student, and family/caregiver insights, measures drive supportive actions and improvements to propel student success.

High-quality, student success systems combine four essential elements so that secondary schools are empowered, in an inclusive way, to graduate all students on a pathway to adult success through higher education and job training.

Why Student Success Systems?

How can we possibly maintain high academic expectations for students while experiencing collective trauma as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic? Advisory Council Member Catalina Cifuentes answers: Start by embracing student success systems that enable us to listen to and learn from one another.

The Four Essential Elements of High-Quality Student Success Systems

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High-quality student success systems build upon and strengthen supportive relationships. These relationships are dependent upon establishing a school culture of belonging where everyone feels validated, accepted, affirmed, and treated fairly. Four types of supportive relationships – school adults to students, students to students, school adults to school adults, school adults to parents/caregivers – provide the foundation for student and school success. High-quality student success systems both build upon and strengthen these relationships.

Read more, from CDC Healthy Schools, about school connectedness, and its relationship to student well-being.  

Putting success into practice

Student Success Teams

Student success teams are a group of adults who work together on a regular basis to implement and continually improve a student success system. The size and composition of student success teams will vary based on school size, and the scale and scope of students who need adult actions to succeed and thrive in school. Typically, they will include teachers, counselors, school leadership, and others in student support roles. They also use an organized structure for soliciting insights and participation from students, parents/caregivers, and the community. In critical grades (e.g., 6th grade, 9th grade, 12th grade) and when schools are large or large numbers of students need additional adult action to succeed, grade-level student success teams may be needed.

Evidence and experience suggest that to be highly effective, student success teams need:

  • Regularly scheduled time to work together during the school-day on, at minimum, a bi-weekly basis
  • Easy access to student-, classroom-, and grade-level attendance, course performance, and well-being data (e.g., sense of agency, belonging, and connectedness) 
  • Clearly defined roles and responsibilities that are distributed across the team (e.g., data person, note keeper, timekeeper, action tracker, etc.) 
  • Ability to take action to support students and to advocate for changes to school practice and policy. This usually requires the active participation and support of school leadership. 
  • Shared set of norms that support continual reflection and improvement, seeking perspectives and voice from a wide range of stakeholders, and building the team’s capacity for listening, openness, empathy, and patience.
Student Success Teams are encouraged to adapt and use the Team Reflection Tool to operate and continually improve their student success system.

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Empower schools to improve and enable the educational success of all students.

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