How one school decreased tardies, detentions—and paperwork

Cleveland School of the Arts is a high school surrounded by prestigious big brothers—Case Western University, Cleveland Institute of Art, and the Cleveland Institute of Music. The curriculum at CSA is heavily focused on the arts—as the name would imply—and students earn their right to attend by applying and auditioning. They (rightfully) boast a 98% graduation rate, of which 100% get accepted into notable post-secondary schools like Julliard where they receive ~$3.5 million in scholarships.

Renee DiBiasio, Assistant Head of School at CSA, is no stranger to the arts—she holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Dance. But her trajectory brought her into education because she wanted to have an impact on students’ lives.

“The students are my inspiration. Every child who walks through our doors becomes my child. I will advocate for them the same as I do my own. Some of them do not have one adult in their lives to be a consistent support. Therefore, we must be that for our kids if they are to succeed.”

When Renee started at CSA, she quickly realized they had to do something about tardies and attendance. Students thought there was a thirty-minute grace period to get to class, “which is not okay.”

“If we don’t hold the students accountable for things like being on time and attending class then we are not serving them when they get out into the real world, where they’ll have to be on time and they’ll have to be where they’re supposed to be. Instilling the idea that class is just as important as everything else has had the biggest impact.”

The Tardy Table and Paper Tracking

Renee implemented a “tardy table” that students need to report to when they are late to school or class and receive a pass. If a student receives three tardies it was an automatic detention. Before the tardy table, tardies were being tracked with a piece of paper which quickly became a nightmare to manage. There was a ton of paperwork and tardy papers were often accidentally moved or misplaced. Renee realized that if they were to continue tracking tardies manually, they would need to hire a full-time person for the paperwork–which just wasn’t feasible. In August of 2016, Cleveland School of the Arts implemented Hero to digitally track tardies.

Since then, Cleveland School of the Arts has decreased tardies to class by 80% and tardies to school by 50%.

“The kids don’t have time to mess around now. They’re not in the hallway when the bell rings. You actually see the kids rush and have a sense of urgency to get where they’re going.

The Power of a Saturday Detention

Prior to using Hero, Cleveland School of the Arts also tracked detentions manually, which was a similarly nightmarish scenario to manage. If a student received a detention and the student did not serve that detention, they would receive an additional detention. If the student’s two detentions were not served, the student would receive four detentions. If all four detentions weren’t served, the student received a day of in-school suspension.

“I mean just think about that. So, you’ve got 600 students. If each of them gets 1 detention, that’s 600 detentions that you have to go check and see if they were served. Then someone has to assign those second detentions and check and see if they served those. It just didn’t happen. We had at least 300 un-served detentions last year.”

Cleveland School of the Arts wanted to come up with a way to increase the number of detentions served. As part of this initiative, they decided to implement a new set of procedures. Under the new model, if a student receives a detention, it must be served the same day or the next day. If the detention isn’t served, the student is put on a list for Saturday school. Renee compiles a list of students who are required to attend Saturday school by pulling a report in Hero to see who hasn’t served their detentions. Implementing Saturday school as a next level logical consequence has been extremely effective–Renee says that she hasn’t seen a student in Saturday school twice.

In this last year, Cleveland School of the Arts has increased the amount of detentions served by 75%.

“It actually feels like a different school. People were coming in and saying “this is different, this feels good, what are you guys doing?”. I really attribute the tracking with Hero which has made things more streamlined and easier for us.”

The Data Doesn’t Lie

The ability to capture student data has also helped Renee maintain a clear record of student accountability. “It’s very easy when a student comes up to me and says ‘I wasn’t late three times I shouldn’t have a detention’ to pull up their profile and say you were late this day, this day and this day and print out their profile for parents.” Being able to quickly pull up a student’s profile and print it out with Hero helps Renee have meaningful conversations with parents.

“The ease of tracking everything and having everyone on the same page using one consistent system–I don’t even know how to explain how happy I am to have a tool like Hero after the struggles I had last year with having nothing.”