Wednesday, September 9, 2015

A Success Culture Changes Everything!

Is it really possible to change the culture of a school?

Ask the faculty, staff and students at Scriber Lake, a small alternative high school, in Edmonds, Washington. They did it and described their journey in a book with a fascinating title: Creating a Success Culture: Transforming Our Schools One Question at a Time, available from

What did they do?
  • They expanded their focus, linking discussions about credits and diplomas to students’ futures, rather than viewing them as ends in themselves. Their project was called Your Future Now.
  • They developed a one-sentence, future-oriented mission statement that is posted throughout the school and drives student and adult behaviors. When students and adults have the same mission, power struggles pretty much disappear.
  • They dispensed with school-wide rules. Individual classrooms of students established “standards” to ensure that learning isn’t interrupted.
  • They changed the school schedule to create time for “Steps to Success” activities. The students named it S2S.
  • They involved the entire school. Non-teaching adults played major roles in the project’s success.
What were the results?
  • The suspension rate was reduced by 91%.
  • In 2013, the project’s first year, 37 students graduated (about average for the previous decade). In 2015, 61 graduated (an increase of 65%). And every one of those students had discussed their future with an adult from the school.
  • Marjie Bowker, the lead author of Creating a Success Culture, now has a reduced teaching schedule, freeing her to spread the success culture to other schools in the district. How often does an alternative school for struggling students become a model for a district’s “regular” schools?
  • A neighboring school district has committed funds to replicate the Scriber Lake experience in their alternative high school this year. They noticed a difference the first day.
  • A high performing high school in another nearby district has committed this school year to creating a student success culture, and is using the Scriber Lake book to assist them.
If you would like to know more about creating a success culture in your community, contact Cal Crow at the Center for Efficacy and Resiliency, Edmonds Community College., 425-640-1852.

No comments:

Post a Comment