The Tribes Process: Phase III Evaluation
Dr. Derick M. Kiger
Administrator, Research & Accountability
School District of Beloit
May 26, 2000
A popular strategy used by teachers to create and sustain stable, orderly, and more connected classrooms is the Tribes process. Since its inception in the 1990s, Tribes has been implemented in schools throughout the United States and Canada. The process was developed by Jeanne Gibbs and CenterSource Systems, LLC as a comprehensive alternative to “stopgap” measures used by schools to affect the learning environment. The process aims to develop a positive culture that supports student learning by engaging teachers, administrators, students, and families in working together as a learning community (Gibbs, 1998).
Tribes is not a curriculum. It is a process that develops inclusion (caring and support), influence (a sense of value—meaningful participation) and community (positive expectations). In the classroom, teachers form heterogeneous groups or “tribes” typically consisting of 3 to 6 students (Gibbs, 1995). The groups are seated together in a small circle and stay together over the course of a semester or school year. A set of collaborative skills is learned so that students can work well together and academic material is taught through a variety of strategies to reach students of different learning styles. Four “agreements” are honored by students and teachers throughout their time together which include attentive listening, appreciations/no put downs, mutual respect, and the right to pass. Over time, teachers transfer responsibility to the tribe so that members can work collaboratively to set achievement goals, monitor progress and solve problems.
The evaluand is a south-central Wisconsin city school district with a population of approximately 35,000. The resident population has not increased appreciably due to a stagnated economy. The population is racially and economically diverse, as approximately 30 percent of residents are minority and economically disadvantaged. The city has experienced an increase in its Hispanic population.
The city school system comprises 12 elementary schools, 2 middle schools, and 1 high school. Total enrollment for the 1998-99 school year was 6,775 students (School District of Beloit, 1999). Approximately 62% of students were white, 28% African American, 9% Hispanic, and 1% Asian/Pacific Islander or Native American. Minority enrollment has increased due to an influx of Hispanic students.
Approximately 40% of all students in the district qualified for free or reduced lunches per federal guidelines (School District of Beloit, 1999). Eighteen percent (18%) presented special education needs. The district attendance rate and graduation rate was lower than the state average. Suspension and truancy rates were higher than the state average. Students moving in and out of the district approached 30% to 40% at some elementary schools. Student performance on standardized norm-referenced assessments compared favorably to national performance benchmarks but trailed state performance in some subjects.
The district made budget cuts due to declining enrollment and state revenue caps (School District of Beloit, 1999). Revenue projections suggested additional cuts in the coming school years. The Board of Education instituted a continuous improvement process for all schools focused on student achievement and operational effectiveness.
THE EVALUATION OF TRIBES
A three-phase evaluation was planned and conducted by the district’s internal evaluation team (Safe and Drug-Free Schools Coordinator, AODA staff, Administrator for Research & Accountability, and an Elementary Lead Classroom Teacher) to provide feedback about the Tribes process. Phase I commenced during the 1996-97 school year and focused upon Tribes training sessions and classroom implementation. This formative evaluation has continued each year of the process.
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Beloit_SD_Phase_III_Research_Exec_Summary.pdf (55.3 KiB, 737 hits)