Professional development coach Braun y Harycki

October 13, 2003

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Last summer, the Wisconsin Association for Middle Level Education (WAMLE) began looking for two professional development coaches in fulfillment of a requirement of a Turning Point Grant. Dave Braun y Harycki, UW-Platteville Assistant Professor of Middle Level Education and Middle Level Education Specialist was selected to fill one of those positions at Wright Middle School.

Last year, seven Wisconsin schools began applying for the Turning Point Grant. Two schools in Madison received the grant - Sherman Middle School and Wright Middle School.

Braun y Harycki works with faculty and staff approximately one and a half days per week at Wright Middle School. He works specifically with an on-site faculty coordinator to educate teachers and staff. The on-site faculty coordinator helps implement the grant and organize communication from within Wright Middle School.

"I help the on-site coordinator by delivering resources, ideas and help her deliver in-services and education," said Braun y Harycki.

Braun y Harycki will identify and record all books in the professional development library available to educators, aid in the allocation of funds for teachers to attend conferences and in the future, provide regular teacher education with the goal of eventually forming learning communities.

"Turning Points: Preparing Youth for the 21st Century" is a book that was published by the Carnegie Council on Adolescent Development in 1989.

"The book was based on finding an answer to the question, if you could make school change happen, in what grade would that occur and how to improve schools in general," said Braun y Harycki.

The book provides recommendations that gave a sense of legitimacy and ways to turn kids around educationally. Since the book, the issues of improvement of schools and educational practices have become national ones, rallying a call to educators everywhere.

Because of the book's popularity, a series of grants related to comprehensive school reform (CSR) have been implemented and made readily available, to specifically aid in addressing middle school reform.

In 1997, the Association of Illinois Middle Schools began conducting longitudinal research using Turning Points as a guide. The research categorized middle schools into three levels: progressive middle schools, mid-range middle schools and middle schools that had no interest in changing their traditional practices.

Using standardized testing to measure their results, schools that used very progressive techniques, scored much higher, more than one standard deviation in math and language scores and significantly better in the area of reading.

"The basic message of the study was that if you use more progressive ways of teaching students will score far better on test scores and there will be fewer factors that could cause behavioral problems, allowing the student to benefit academically and affectively better," said Brau y Harycki.

Based on academic performance and affective factors the Turning Point network was set up. Illinois currently has 62 middle schools that receive this money. The study for the Turning Point Grant lasts three years bringing $100,000 to $125,000 for staff development and the use of best practices models.

Braun y Harycki teaches Middle Level Methods Block and Middle Level Block I at UW-Platteville.

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