From an F-rated school to an A-rated school in a stunning one year, Mt. Tabor’s intense work with Conscious Discipline’s social-emotional methodology helps increase student achievement across the board.

Mt. Tabor is the largest elementary school in New Albany-Floyd County Consolidated Schools, with a current enrollment of 780 students. After being labeled an “F” school by the State of Indiana due to poor performance on state tests for the 2015-2016 school year, Mt. Tabor’s achieved an “A” school for the 2016-2017 school year. Mt. Tabor has much to celebrate as the school also experienced 278 fewer discipline referrals in 2016-2017 than it did during the 2015-2016 school year!

Assistant Principal Sarah Pierce says Conscious Discipline played a key role in the faculty’s ability to unite and see students differently. This shift, she says, was essential in her school achieving such dramatic changes in both test scores and referral numbers.

Mt. Tabor began Conscious Discipline implementation in 2015 by utilizing the Conscious Discipline Live DVD set (now the Conscious Discipline: Building Resilient Homes and Schools online course). Their shift to Conscious Discipline was prompted by low state scores, high numbers of office referrals and teacher burnout. Adding the mix, Mt. Tabor also has 65% free/reduced lunch, and is the magnet school for both Special Education and the High Ability Program.

“Mt. Tabor is a special place; we have such a diverse population of students. Conscious Discipline works, and it’s a journey for everyone—staff, students and parents,”

– Assistant Principal  Sarah Pierce

Since 2015, the Mt. Tabor staff has continued with their study of Conscious Discipline Live, trained with Certified Instructor Jill Molli and even enjoyed a visit with Dr. Becky Bailey. Using their problem solving skills, staff members decided to target academic achievement in a Brain Smart way by establishing a buddy program that partners K-2 classrooms with Grade 3-4 classrooms so students can support each other. Students in the buddy program share learning through buddy reading, notes of encouragement during testing and brain-building connection with I Love You Rituals. The Conscious Discipline Brain State Model helped staff see the direct relationship between two key factors, 1.) students’ need for safety and connection and 2.) students’ ability to learn and access their knowledge during testing.

The ISTEP is the state test Indiana uses to measure students’ academic ability. The school’s grade level is calculated by the percent of 3rd and 4th graders who pass the test and the amount of growth shown. You can see the difference between the 2015-2016 and the 2016-2017 “passing” test scores below:

Grade 3 English/Language Arts:

  • 2015-2016: 64.6%
  • 2016-2017: 75%

Grade 3 Math:

  • 2015-2016: 49%
  • 2016-2017: 71%

Grade 4 English/Language Arts:

  • 2015-2016: 57.3%
  • 2016-2017: 70%

Grade 4 Math:

  • 2015-2016: 36.8%
  • 2016-2017: 62%

Mt. Tabor’s success with Conscious Discipline extends far beyond test scores. A compassionate, connected School Family is replacing frustration and burnout. Staff members are becoming more caring toward each other and more patient with students. Teachers are beginning to see struggling students as missing key social-emotional skills—and then teaching those skills—rather than punishing them for their mistakes. Students, in turn, are learning to use a Big Voice and the Time Machine to solve problems, and experiencing the increase in self-confidence and responsibility that comes from contributing to the school through meaningful jobs.

Last year, when the school experienced the deaths of two staff members, Mt. Tabor pulled together even more. “It was incredible to see the support between each other as well as between other schools within our district. We were also able to support students as they dealt with the loss. The emotional skills we learned through Conscious Discipline and the creation of a School Family played an important part in that healing,” Assistant Principal Pierce said.

Mt. Tabor’s transformation has been rapid and intense and, according to Assistant Principal Pierce, the road to lasting change can be a bit bumpy. Mt. Tabor is in its third year of implementation, and struggles to find the time, funds and willingness for everyone to implement with fidelity.

“We’re just starting this journey,” Assistant Principal Pierce said. “We’re the largest the elementary school in the county and we’re not at 100% buy-in with Conscious Discipline yet, but as we continue to see success—especially with tough students and test scores—I know all our staff will soon join in this amazing undertaking we started in 2015. And we’re so excited to share our school’s success! Our ‘A’ grade is an incredible achievement for us, and shows the hard work our teachers and staff put in to help our students succeed every day! Our implementation of Conscious Discipline has helped us to create a safe, caring learning environment where our students can be successful every day.”