Student Success

Classrooms as a Celebration of Each Student’s Success

Lights flash to the beat of the music, students clap and cheer for their classmates, and Mrs. Johns uses her best announcer voice to introduce students displaying new learning gains for the week. This is the environment that students are welcomed into every Friday as they enter their fourth grade math class. At James Stephens International Academy (JSIA), teachers have adopted the practice of using student data to create a culture of growth and student success. According to the staff, this culture set the stage for all of the work that was done in JSIA’s one year turnaround from an F to a B based on the Florida state scorecard. While the creation of standards-based assessments, reshaping instructional practices, and extending the school day were all strategies that the school explored during the turnaround effort, students needed the motivation to change and show their true potential.

“I feel like my classroom is a celebration of me. The walls of each teacher’s room shows my progress for everything from fluency to my last science assessment.” – Jamiyah, Fifth Grade Student

While classroom bulletin boards and every last bit of wall space are used to track student progress and mastery of standards, the magic is in the conversations and discussions that this data inspires. Students challenge their peers, teachers have motivational pep talks, and visitors look on with wide eyes as blushing students explain their monumental gains from one week to the next. Although an expectation was never established for teachers to create student data displays or hold these conversations, as students shared their excitement, the practice quickly swept the campus.

Teachers at JSIA have grown to understand that student success comes through precise instruction, measured by well-aligned assessments, but having the means to readily access this data helps to answer the pleas of students curious to see their results. Through Performance Matters’ Unify platform, classroom teachers were able to create standard-based assessments that mirrored the state assessment and its response mechanisms and gain immediate access to these results moments after students completed their assessments. While anticipation grows with time, students also knew that there is no need to wait on good news and celebrate their successes.

Rather than tucking away student data in a folder, why not replace your classroom posters with the successes of your students?

Join us on February 7th at 1:00 pm EST to learn how JSIA leveraged creative scheduling, revamping math instruction and assessment and integrating a culture of growth through daily student and teacher usage of classroom data.

Kelly Stedman, Assistant Principal, Director of Instruction

An Early Childhood graduate from Ohio University, Kelly Stedman, on a whim, moved to Florida to pursue a teaching career in Fort Myers and spent the first few years of her career in Title 1 schools as a math and writing teacher in grades 3 through 5.  She quickly learned that her passion was supporting educators through standards based instruction, so it was a natural transition to work with teachers as a curriculum specialist and then later as an Assistant Principal.  Currently, she has been working with an incredible team of teachers to turnaround James Stephens, an elementary school in danger of being shut down due to poor performance on state assessments.  She has also been recognized as Florida’s Assistant Principal of the Year for the 2016-2017 school year due to her successful turn-around work.


Nick Pietkiewicz, Assistant Director of Instruction

Nick began his career as a teacher in Fort Myers, FL after studying Elementary Education with a specialization in mathematics instruction from Ball State University. His trade of the bone chilling winters of the Midwest for Florida’s endless summers led to an exploration of both primary and intermediate grades.  After transitioning to instructional coaching, Nick supported teacher leaders in their implementation of a drastic rewrite of the district curriculum and assessment plan while working toward a successful school turnaround. His passion in education is based on empowering learners, both adult and child, to discover their potential and become responsible for their own success.