Thursday, July 25, 2024

Brewster teacher pays for improved student test scores with his head



BREWSTER – At the beginning of the school year, Brewster Middle School seventh grade language arts teacher, Kyle Woelber made a bargain with his students. Woelber offered some “incentives” to his class in return for its commitment to improve state testing results.

The incentives included a pizza party and a head shaving – Woelber’s

Over the past several years, Brewster Middle School’s state test scores have been in the bottom five percent of the state average.

“Because of this we have been placed in a “School Improvement” cohort with some heavy ramifications from state if our results don’t turn around,” Woelber explained.

The students’ performance last year as sixth graders, was 24 percent at level three or four which translates into at or above grade level.

“This year in my seventh-grade class we created a three-tier incentive game plan around its test scores,” Woelber said.

The plan went like this: 

• If the students grew to 30 percent, they got a pizza party during their scheduled class time.

• If the students grew to 35 percent, they got to sit and watch as Woelber got his head shaved bald. (Woelber did not cut his hair for the entire school year).

• If the students grew to 40 percent, they got both the pizza party and a bald Mr. Woelber.

Woelber’s class took up the challenge and buckled down in preparation for year-end Smarter Balance State Assessment. Each student looked at last year’s performance and set realistic goals for this year. 

“The kids tracked their progress using the practice Smarter Balance assessments called Interims, and were measured using classroom assessments that mirrored what they would see on the state exams,” said Woelber. “The results came back and the students performed amazing.”

, the class grew to 38 percent at or above proficient or grade level, for a 14 percent growth from the year prior.

“We also had 44 percent of the grade grow at least one level, meaning some kids who were level 1 grew to a level 2, level 2 to level 3, and level 3 to level 4,” Woelber said.

Level 1 = Below Grade Level

Level 2 = Near Grade Level

Level 3 = At Grade Level

Level 4 = Above Grade Level.

While the class fell a little short of their top goal, they earned a front-row seat for their teacher’s new “do.”

“So, on Thursday, June 8, the students all met in Brewster’s small gym and local hairdresser, Kristina Gebbers, came down and shaved my head bald as a newborn baby,” Woelber said.

Even though the end goal is 100 percent of students at proficient grade level, Woelber considers the growth he saw from his class as something to celebrate and for the coming year’s classes to build on.

“I only seeing things getting better and better each year moving forward,” Woelber said. 

Kristina Gebbers, Kyle Woelber, brewster


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