Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Elementary Reading and Math

I spent the majority of my morning on the phone with Kathy Wittke, Elementary Language Arts Consultant, and Maggie Cummings, Math Consultant, about expectations and roles.

I talked to Kathy about the job of the Literacy Coaches, how that has changed, and what is expected of teachers.  The Literacy Coaches are to be coaching classroom teachers on Tier 1 (classroom) interventions and best practices for teaching literacy.  The Coaches can come into classrooms to demonstrate parts of the Balanced Literacy model, work directly with individual teachers or teams on improving part of their instruction, and help with intervention ideas for teachers to use in their classrooms.  The Coaches are not to be tutoring students.  They can do brief training of aides to tutor students who need Tier 2 (pull-out but not Resource) interventions.  The Literacy Coaches are supposed to be effecting progress for the most students, which translates to helping all teachers become better teachers of literacy skills for all students.  The role is going to be redefined and narrowed in the spring.

Laura Finlinson, Director of Curriculum and Staff Development, has asked that Guided Reading Levels be turned in monthly on all students.  These levels can come from running records, PALS, or Fountas and Pinnell.  She said that is the ideal, but at minimum, students who are below grade level should have their GRL reported monthly.

I talked to Maggie about the Math Scope and Sequence, Blocks, and Benchmark Assessments.  The Scope and Sequence was designed to cover the state core curriculum.  The Blocks within each Benchmark can be taught in any order.  For example, teachers may wish to teach Block 3, then Block 1, then Block 2.  That is fine.  The Block and Benchmark Assessments are meant to be used in a formative way.  Teach the objectives, use the assessment, remediate as needed based on the outcomes of the assessment.  Maggie has asked that teachers submit their class average on the Benchmark Assessments to their principals.  Principals are then to find a grade average for each Benchmark and send that to Maggie.  She then compiles District averages which are sent back to principals.  The purpose of the District gathering this information is so teachers can see how their students are doing in relation to the District as a whole.  Approximately 70% of schools are participating in this data collection process.

For the past 20 years, Jordan District as it is (west side) has had average math scores lower than the state average.  Last year was the first time Jordan's averages were higher than state averages.  Since implementing the Jordan Scope and Sequence, Jordan's average math scores on the CRT's have increased 4.45% while the state increase has been 1.55%.  Schools who have fully implemented and used the Scope and Sequence and Benchmark Assessments with remediation as needed have seen as many as 25% more students score 3 or 4 on the Math CRT.

Using data to guide teaching is best practice.  We should all know where our students are as far as reading levels and math concepts.  Gathering and reporting the data will help us know who needs remediation on what concepts.  Discuss the data in PLC's for the benefit of those students who need the interventions.

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