Impact Insights

Students see grade improvements in HIT program

Lana academic coach supports students with challenges that go beyond the classroom, and students see grade improvements in math and ELA.

When students are struggling academically, educators must prioritize dialogue that empowers them to be candid about their class engagement and participation. At the High-Impact Tutoring (HIT) program here at Thurgood Marshall Academy, I am currently working with a group of struggling 9th graders. They have high attendance rates but low grades and GPAs. In these cases, I consider the challenges that go beyond the classroom. Often, students see grade improvements when they get support addressing these outside factors.

To impact the students, I need to meet them where they are. If a student is failing almost all his/her classes, building a trusting relationship is crucial. This allows them to open up and be honest about factors that are affecting their academics. Discussing thoughts and feelings about school, being seen or heard in the classroom, and what their strengths and weaknesses are encourage them to own their education.

This is the approach I took with my students this semester. I also spent considerable time observing their levels of participation and engagement in their classes. I know that class engagement, or lack thereof, is a key factor of academic performance. Predictably, too many students were not actively engaging in class, so we are continually addressing effective class participation and engagement in HIT sessions. While progress is slow, and habits are hard to turn around, I do see some progress! Let’s look at some grade improvements over the last three weeks (3/25/25 through 4/8/24) to see what I mean.

ELA Student Progress

Over a three-week period, six ELA students see grade improvement from an F to a C-. This means that all six students have at least 70% in their ELA class. One student in particular demonstrated a 338% grade increase by jumping from 16% to 70%.

Math Student Improvement

Over a three-week period, six students improved their math grades from an F up to a C+. This means that all six students have at least 70% in their math class currently. Four of the students increased to a C-, one student increased to a C, and one student increased to a C+. The most notable improvement is a growth rate of 142%; this student went from 31% to 75% in just three weeks!

Yes, the grade improvements are all in the C grade range. Yes, we would all like to see B and A grades.

But these are significant grade improvements because they are no longer failing these classes! These grade improvements are tangible evidence for the “You CAN do this; you CAN turn your grades around and pass this class!” narrative I am pushing with every session. With this step-up in grades, mindset shifts start to happen.

In the meantime, I will keep working with my students in their HIT sessions as well as observing (and holding them accountable for) their levels of engagement and participation in their classes. Small steps, but every step counts. Every step up from an F grade is a huge step forward!

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