The mission of Richfield Public School Academy is to create a high standard of academic excellence where all students can grow and become life-long learners. There are about 450 3rd through 8th grade students at RPSA. Teachers at Richfield implemented the Focused Instructional Model during the 2014-2015 school year.
After implementing the FIM with fidelity, teachers noticed that students were more willing to take risks instead of shutting down when they encountered a problem they struggled to solve. The teachers and students appreciated the cyclical repetition of key concepts so they could have continual practice with the most important concepts from their grade level. Coaches helped teachers implement the FIM system over multiple years. Along with the gains in the social and emotional development of their students, there were also academic gains. For example, 3rd grade scores increased by 15.2% (from 21.3% proficient to 35.5% proficient) after one year of FIM implementation.
In 2017, Richfield Public School Academy was designated as a “School to Watch” by the National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades reform. RPSA excels in the four categories that define great schools according to the Schools to Watch rubric: Academic Excellence, Developmental Responsiveness, Social Equity, and Organizational Structures and Processes.
It is a difficult time to be an educator in the United States. Teachers are bombarded with special requests from their administrators, from parents, and from students. There is an overall lack of respect for the noble profession nationwide which causes teachers to be frustrated and anxious. With increased emphasis on standardized test scores, teachers often find it difficult to be passionate about their profession. Students come to their classrooms with pre-installed viruses like lacking attention to detail, an inability to retain key information, and aversions to putting forth the effort it takes to persevere through a difficult problem.
The Focused Instructional Model from the Institute for Excellence in Education helps teachers and students become the best they can be. Student engagement is increased. The cyclical repetition of key concepts helps solidify important concepts in the minds of students. Consistent incoming formative assessment data allows for powerful differentiation. Students are provided with a safe place to take risks and explore their thinking without being force-fed a formula or an algorithm.
Overcoming the pitfalls of math classes is a daunting task; the FIM provides a roadmap to help teachers provide the best possible educational environment for their students to help them reach their full potentials.
In order to retain our place as a global economic leader, schools in the United States must produce students that are innovative and creative when it comes to problem solving. Students at all grade levels must be exposed to high-quality learning experiences across multiple domains. They need guidance as they develop socially, emotionally, and intellectually. Teachers using the Focused Instructional Model in their math classes can help not only with the academic development of students, but also with their social and emotional growth so they are eager to learn and ready to apply their new learnings in the real world.
In their “Future of Jobs Report” (2016), the World Economic Forum predicted the top 10 skills sought by employers worldwide in the year 2020. These skills included complex problem solving, critical thinking, cognitive flexibility, creativity, and coordinating with others. The Focused Instructional Model from the Institute for Excellence in Education provides safe spaces for students to work on developing these critical skills while simultaneously providing students with practice on foundational mathematical skills.
To learn more about the Institute for Excellence in Education and the Focused Instructional Model, please visit www.excellenceined.org.
Upgrading Math Class Series:
Difficulty #1 – Information Retention
Difficulty #2 – Targeted Intervention
Difficulty #3 – Providing Social-Emotional Learning
Difficulty #4 – Safe Learning Environments
Difficulty #5 – Effective Teacher Training
Difficulty #6 – Appropriate Differentiation
Data Deep Dive #1
Data Deep Dive #2