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Building Successful Teams

By Mr. David Krakoff, YMS Principal

YMS teachers began working in their Collaborative Learning Teams (CLTs) this week, starting the process of teacher-centered professional development.  According to research conducted by the National Institue for School Leadership over the past 20 years, the highest performing school systems in the United States and world share the common thread of teacher-led professional development systems that align instructional planning, standards mastery, student assessment, and differentiated instruction to ensure equity for all students.  At YMS, our CLTs provide that foundation and platform for our teachers to grow as professionals while forming a team with colleagues across our campus.  

In only their second year of existence at YMS, our CLTs revolved around a cycle of work that includes:

1)  Identification of target standards, unwrapping of standards, and development of a unit scale based on Marzano's taxonomy.

2) Strategic unit development around target standards, daily monitoring and formative assessment questions, and plans for intervention and enrichment. 

3) Develpoment of Common Formative Assessments (CFAs), analysis of CFA data and creation of interventions and enrichments accordingly.  

By working through this process, our goal is for our teachers to form a strong professional bond as a team while all teachers become experts on all CLT elements which allows for tremendous professional growth among all of our teachers. 

Messages from Our Administration

It All Begins with Commitment to Equity and the Core Belief that All Students Can!

By David Krakoff, YMS Principal


All means ALL.  Every Student, every period, every day…

Those were the words that Dr. Juan Baughn, one of my facilitators and mentors, repeated during every day of our National Institute for School Leadership’s (NISL) sessions when I participated in NISL’s executive development program for school leaders in 2015 and 2016.    Dr. Baughn, a former special assistant to the Pennsylvania secretary of education and current superintendent in Philadelphia, knows a thing or two about what’s lacked in America’s public school system over the past half century.  As one of the most respected facilitators of growth for our nation’s principals, Dr. Baughn knows all about the research on how people learn.  The research detailing the systems built and aligned by the highest performing school systems on the planet.  He taught me a lot about strategic thinking and analyzing the benefits and risks associated with every decision I make.  But his most powerful lesson?  That all means ALL.


Fairness in education does not mean giving the same treatment or opportunities to every student.  The best educators have a way of guiding every student to successful ends by assessing every individual student’s needs and focusing on giving every student what they in fact need.  Our most effective teachers customize and differentiate their instruction to guide EVERY student toward a path leading to successful experiences in college and/or career as well as in life.  Above all, we all must believe that EVERY student can learn and succeed given constant encouragement and commit to never giving up on ANY one student.  We must work to determine what every student needs so that we can customize their plan to travel a path toward college and/or career.  With total compassion and the acceptance that we are here to serve every student, we must give every student a clean slate after every mistake.  We have to be the ones who pick them off the floor and dust them off after a bad day.  Our belief in every one of our students must be relentless in that we work tirelessly to serve every single one of our students no matter how challenging and always with a positive approach and unyielding confidence. 


When we approach our students in this way, the result will become equity.  That’s when it becomes fair – when we focus on giving single student what he or she needs without exception.  Our actions needs to support the premise that every staff member firmly believes that every student can and will succeed while a student at our school. 


For generations, many of our nation’s schools have tried to make one size fit all while accepting that those students who struggled to fit into the mold would simply fall behind.  As students moved through our nation’s school districts, many simply accepted the expectation that struggling student’s learning gaps would naturally widen and in essence we fostered somewhat of a class system to develop across our schools.  The haves and the have nots.  It is time that we differentiate our approach so that every student has an equitable opportunity to flourish.  It starts with a deep conviction to the belief that every student can!

All should actually mean ALL.  Every student, every period, every day. 

fair is not always equal poster

Learning is Up ALL Across YMS!

By David Krakoff, YMS Principal

Yearling Middle School's students and staff worked hard to adjust to our new administration and changes in our approach to instruction and learning during the 2018-19 school year. That hard work and that transition paid off.

YMS students increased their proficiency rates ALL across the curriclulum in 2018-19 when compared to 2017-18, producing improved test scores in all four core subject areas. In addition, triple the number of YMS students tested proficient in high school credit math courses when compared to 2017-18.

Here is a breakdown of our incredible gains from 2017-18 to 2018-19:

1) Our acceleration score earned based on successfully guiding students who should be eligible to master a high school credit math course into the course and testing proficient increased by 14%, moving from 58% to 72%.

2) Civics scores increased by 9% from 42% profiency to 51%.

3) Math increased by 5%, moving from 53% to 58%.

4) Science increased by 2%, moving from 34% to 36%.

5) English Language Arts scores increased by 1% from 39% to 40%.

6) Five out of our six math and ELA Colloborative Learning Teams guided students to improved profiency rates, with 8th grade ELA being the only team that regressed, sliding from 41% to 36%. Our sixth grade teams showed the largest growth as ELA gained 10% from the prior year and math improved by 4%.

We still await the state's publication of student growth rates and school grades. Growth rates will greatly impact our overall school grade.

To give additional perpsective, YMS earned a C last year, falling 46 points short of a B in 2017-18. Prior to adding student growth rates, we have earned 31 more points in the categories of proficiency and acceleration. In the state's middle school grading system, a school must earn at least 54% of the 900 total points available to earn a B, meaning that a school must earn at least 486 points. In 2017-18, YMS earned 442 points.

We will keep you updated as student growth rates are added to the data, but our students, staff, and families should all pause to smile about the increasing student achievement taking place at YMS. These results are only the beginning of our work together as we believe that EVERY one of our students' possibilities are limitless!

Yearling Middle School Looks to Build on Momentum with More Forward Thinking, Forward Moving in 2019-2020

By David Krakoff, YMS Principal
and Jerrime Shells, YMS Assistant Principal

We reflect on our accomplishments and advancement during the 2018-2019 school year at Yearling Middle School with great pride. But our growth has only made us more passionate and excited about what’s ahead. 

Last year was a motivating step as our students improved their proficiency rates in all four core subject areas as well while more than doubling the number of students who took and tested in proficient in high-school credit math courses. Our students’ proficiency rate grew by 9% in Civics and by 5% in math, resulting in 58% of our students reaching proficient status in our math courses. Our math department enjoyed a banner year overall as 60% of our students improved test scores enough from 2017-18 to qualify for growth according to the Florida Department of Education’s scale and 58% of our lowest quartile improved their scores enough to show state-defined growth. Our sixth grade team facilitated significant overall improvements in terms of proficiency rates with gains of 10% in English Language Arts and 4% in math. 

Looking back will help us to move forward. Last year, we introduced Collaborative Learning Teams to our staff, which served as a system that supported our teachers’ work with intentionally planning to deepen levels of learning for all students. Our teachers became strategic in guiding students to the deepest levels of a taxonomy of thinking while planning to differentiate instruction based on how students progressed in a unit of study. Our staff also focused our instructional model around four primary categories, including: Conditions for Learning, Standards-Aligned Instruction, Authentic Learning, and Collaborative Learning. As our improving data suggests, we will continue with this valuable work in 2019-2020. 

We will also expand our initiatives to include a campus-wide commitment to AVID strategies with the idea that all students can benefit from organizational strategies, exposure to more rigorous curriculum, and a crystal clear belief system among staff and students and ALL students’ possibilities truly are limitless. In addition, we will emphasize reading and writing strategies as we have identified those skills as essential to our continued growth across our curriculum. 

We look back with pride about 2018-2019. As we look ahead to 2019-2020, we are committed to growth so that we take another step toward achieving the revised vision for YMS that was created by a combination of all stakeholders last spring that states, “Yearling Middle School will prepare ALL students for success in college, career, and life.” We thank you for the privilege of serving our students, families, and community, and hope we have earned your trust and continue to earn more as we work to guide all students to paths that will lead to success as adults.