November 3, 2017 ICU Admin

York Public Schools Focused on Learning

  • By Dr. Mitch Bartholomew – York Public Schools


At the start of the 2016-17 school year, York Public Schools implemented a process called ICU. ICU (Intensive Care Unit) is a process that holds students accountable for their work and focuses on teachers creating quality assignments. A key component of ICU is a school-wide database that tracks missing assignments. The database allows teachers, administrators, students and parents to communicate with each other about incomplete assignments. YPS has had tremendous success with ICU and has received numerous compliments from parents.

YPS needed the ICU process due to the number of assignments our students weren’t completing. For example, during the 2015-16 school year, York High School gave out nearly 4,000 zeros. These zeros were having a dramatic impact on students’ grades and were unintentionally reinforcing student apathy. Also, teachers were not able to determine if all students were learning the content being taught because many assignments were not completed.

 The idea behind ICU is to grade student learning, not punish students with grades and require all students to complete all assignments. Like many adults, some students will not meet deadlines. The ICU process requires students to create a plan for completion and allows teachers to require extra time and support for students.

Since we’ve implemented ICU, YHS has seen a dramatic increase in student achievement. During the 2016-17 school year, we saw nearly a 25 percent reduction to our weekly failure rate compared to 2015-16. Compared to the 2011-12 school year, we have seen nearly a 65 percent failure rate reduction. We’ve also seen a drastic reduction to the number of students enrolled in summer school for credit retrieval. At the end of the 2011-12 year, YHS had 127 students enrolled in at least one summer school class. During the 2016-17 school year, YHS only had seven students needing credit recovery.

The York High School staff is very proud of our student achievement numbers and our students. Many students have stepped up to the ICU challenge and are doing very well. As a staff, our next challenges include sustaining the ICU process, creating quality assignments and focusing on students that are repeatedly on the ICU list.