Saturday, March 18, 2017

Data-based Decision Making in the Burlington School District and Champlain Elementary

During last week’s inservice day and continuing through the month of March, elementary school homeroom (non-unified arts) teachers devote their professional meeting time to reviewing and analyzing their own students’ academic performance results. Together they sit with their grade-level team and compare scores in mathematics and reading from fall to winter assessments.

At each elementary school, the math and literacy interventionists play key roles in sharing this data. Supported by BSD coaches, they create a confidential “data wall” for teachers to easily review each student’s performance. Much of the data indicates specific skills, such as multiplication, division, and place value.

In kindergarten, teachers administer brief “screeners” for grade-level comprehension. In grades 1-5, the Fountas & Pinnell system assesses students in literacy three times a year, in which classroom teachers and their students work one-on-one to observe and document progress in reading and writing. Students performing on or above grade level have participated in a reading assessment from Teachers College of Columbia University. The Eureka math program adopted by the district also provides grade-level assessments on which students demonstrate their conceptual understanding and skills. During our meeting time, third-grade teacher Mr. Roger Klinger, literacy interventionist and special educator Ms. Terry Ryan, and math interventionist and fifth-grade math teacher Ms. Regina Miller have led a dialogue process for grade-level teams to identify new learning targets. From these plans, each teacher designs differentiated instruction to target students’ weaknesses, especially on key standards, and to challenge students who have achieved standards.

This data-based decision making allows teachers to teach with precise intentionality during the last trimester of the school year. Typically the last months fill up with field trips and special projects. Yet each student’s performance in math and literacy matters more than ever, and students participating in activities that address underlying gaps and advanced concepts take top priority through our last days in June.

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