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What is First Things First?

A whole school reform model developed by the Institute for Research and Reform in Education (IRRE) to raise students' academic performance to levels required for post-secondary education and high-quality employment.

Who sponsors First Things First?

US Department of Education

Where will First Things First be?

Original FTF site-All elementary, middle, and high schools in Kansas City, Kansas

Five new sites:
All high schools in Greenville and Shaw, Mississippi
All middle and high schools in Riverview Gardens, Missouri and one other urban school district
Lee High School and Sharpstown Middle School in Houston, Texas

Why do we need First Things First?

For children who attend public schools like Greenville High and Weston:

graduating from high school is more important to their futures than it is for children living in wealthier communities and

not finishing school puts them at greater risk.

Between Freshman and Senior Years our student population decreases by over 200.

What does national research tell us we must do to change these outcomes?

Change relationships (among students, staff and families) ~ More personal, longstanding, respectful and mutually accountable

Improve the quality of teaching and learning in every classroom every day ~ Higher and clearer academic standards ~ Teachers can and do use more effective instructional strategies, curriculum materials and assessment tools ~ Students more actively engaged ~ Safer and more secure learning environments

Focus all resources available on people, space, time and money

Seven Critical Features of First Things First Reform Framework

For Students

For Adults

Lower student/adult ratios

Equip, empower and expect all staff
to improve instruction

Provide continuity of care

Institute flexible allocation of
available resources: people, facilities,
time and money

Set high, clear and fair academic
and conduct standards

Assure collective responsibility for
student outcomes

Provide enriched and diverse
opportunities: to learn, to perform
and to be recognized


Key components of First Things First

Small learning communities will be formed and all students will be members.

The small learning communities will each have approximately 200 students.

As many school staff as possible will be members of small learning communities including:
~ elective and required course teachers,
~ special education and ESL teachers, paraprofessionals and aides;
~ administrative, clerical and support staff.

Students and staff members will work within their small learning community for as much time as possible, across the school day and across the school years.

Family advocates will be assigned to all students in the small learning community and remain with those families for their entire stay in the community.

Full-time small learning community instructional staff will have common planning time on a daily basis and a common lunch time.

Core instructional time will be increased.

Students in small learning communities will experience student/adult ratios of 1:15 or less during core instruction in their small learning communities for approximately 10 hours per week.