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Third Grade Best Practices Inventory Report

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The Spring 2010 ISTEP+ tests measured the academic achievement of 81,201 third grade students in 1,111 Indiana traditional and charter public schools. Ninety-three schools in 63 school corporations were identified as Results Leaders. The Principal at each Results Leader was asked to complete a Best Practices Survey Questionnaire. Eleven Principals responded to the Questionnaire. A listing of all the Results Leaders, Results Leader selection criteria, Best Practices Survey questions, and Questionnaire responses can be found online at

This Report is an analysis of the data provided by the Results Leaders who responded to the Best Practices Survey Questionnaire. Everyone is invited to analyze the accumulated data in any way they deem appropriate.

The Report is divided into two main parts – the Third Grade Best Practices Inventory and the Third Grade Best Practices Questions & Conclusions Summary. It is hoped the Third Grade Best Practices Inventory will (a) help individual schools improve their education outcomes and (b) influence the education reform debate underway in the Indiana General Assembly. Each of the best practices listed in the Inventory below is supported by numbered analytical and anecdotal conclusions that can be found in the Summary that completes this Report.

Third Grade Best Practices Inventory

I. Parental Involvement is particularly important. See Conclusions 1.4.1., 1.4.4., 1.4.8., 1.4.9., and 5.2.9.

II. The ongoing assessment of individual student needs is particularly important, with NWEA scores, DIBELS, Acuity testing, ISTEP data and classroom teacher observations utilized by multiple Results Leaders. See Conclusions 2.2.2., 2.2.14., 2.4.1., 2.4.7., 2.4.8., 2.4.11., 2.10.10., 2.2.12., 4.2.1., 4.2.5., 4.2.6., 4.2.8., 4.2.9., and 5.2.6.

III. Using individual student assessment results to target specific enrichment and remediation (especially Title I) instructional programs for student groups and individual students is particularly important. See Conclusions 2.2.1, 2.2.8., 2.2.13, 2.2.14, 2.4.2., 2.4.11., 2.4.12., 3.6.2., 3.6.6., 3.6.7., 3.6.8., 3.6.10., 5.2.7., and 5.2.9.

III.A. A properly focused learning environment is a primary determinant of ISTEP success. See Conclusions 2.4.10., 2.10.3., 2.10.6., 2.10.8., 3.2.1., 3.2.5., 3.2.6., 3.2.7., 3.2.9., 3.2.10., 3.2.11., 3.2.13., 3.4.1., 3.4.3., 3.4.4., 3.4.5., 3.6.1., 3.6.4., 3.6.5., 4.2.4., and 4.2.7.

III.B. More than twenty different instructional programs have been effectively used, with Saxon Math, 6+1 Writing Traits, Accelerated Reader and math manipulatives utilized by multiple Results Leaders. See Conclusions 2.2.7., 2.2.9., 2.2.10., 2.2.11., 2.2.12., 2.4.6., 2.4.7., 2.4.8., 2.6.1., 2.6.3., 2.6.4., 2.6.5., 2.6.6., 2.6.7., 2.6.8., 2.6.9., 2.6.10., 4.2.1., 4.2.2., 4.2.3., and 4.2.5.

III.C. Budget shortfalls may present challenges to achieving future ISTEP success because of larger class sizes and fewer remediation aides. See Conclusions 3.4.8., 5.2.2, 5.2.6., 5.2.9., and 5.2.12.

III.D. Changes in expectations and mandates from the state and federal governments may present ISTEP success challenges in the future. See Conclusions 5.2.4., 5.2.5., 5.2.6., 5.2.10., 5.2.11., and 5.2.13.

IV. Helpful "test-taking strategies" are important. See Conclusions 1.4.5., 1.4.9., 2.4.5., 2.6.9., 2.8.1., 2.8.4., 2.8.5., 2.8.6., 2.8.7., 2.8.8., 2.8.9., 2.10.2., 2.10.4., 2.10.5., and 3.2.8.

IV.A. One helpful "test-taking strategy" is purposeful teaching based on the state standards using ISTEP practice materials provided by the Indiana Department of Education. See Conclusions 2.2.3., 2.2.12., 2.4.3., 2.4.11., 2.8.2., 2.8.9., 2.10.1., and 3.2.10.

V. The careful selection and ongoing professional development of effective teachers are important. See Conclusions 2.2.4., 2.2.5., 2.2.14., 2.2.15., 2.6.2., 2.6.11., 2.10.9, 3.2.2., 3.2.3., 3.2.4., 3.2.7., 3.4.6., 3.6.3., 3.6.9., 5.2.3., 5.2.8., and 5.2.13.

VI. The completion of effectively supervised and meaningful homework is ranked as a little better than "Somewhat Important." See Conclusions 1.2., 1.2.1., 1.2.2., 1.2.3., 1.2.4., 1.2.5, 1.2.6., 1.4.3., and 1.4.7.

VII. One key leadership factor seems to be the creation of a non-threatening environment that emphasizes the expectation that both students and teachers will succeed. See Conclusions 2.4.4., 2.4.9., 2.4.12., and 2.10.7.

VIII. The involvement of concerned non-parental community members can be important. See Conclusions 1.4.2., 1.4.3., 1.4.4., and 1.4.7.

IX. Classroom libraries, the media center, poetry anthologies, and literature collections can be important. See Conclusions 2.2.6., 2.2.10., and 2.2.11.

Third Grade Best Practices Questions & Conclusions Summary

1. Parent & Community Involvement

1.1. Survey Question "A". Was the completion of effectively supervised and meaningful homework an important factor in the ISTEP+ success of your third grade students? Please rank homework completion on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 as "Very Important," 3 as "Somewhat Important," and 1 as "Not Important."

1.2. Question "A" Conclusions. Eight of the responding Results Leaders ranked the importance of homework completion on the scale of 1 to 5. After eliminating the lowest ranking and a highest ranking, the average ranking was a little above "Somewhat Important" at 3.33. Some insightful comments include those listed next.

1.2.1. "We do expect all of our students to bring back homework completed on time; however, with some of our students getting very little parental support at home, this doesn’t always happen. This is very important to our staff."

1.2.2. "We try to make homework assignments authentic in that the students are working on background knowledge pieces to support project work at school. They also spend time reading or being read to, and practicing skills individualized to their needs (an example would be math facts). Trying out a newly learned math concept through the completion of a few problems might also be assigned."

1.2.3. "While I believe that homework is important in education, I cannot statistically correlate it with ISTEP success. It does, however, promote parent involvement in most cases, as well as help develop student responsibility which does help promote positive results not only on tests but with general life skills."

1.2.4. "While I would rank homework completion as ‘Very Important’ at a school, I do not consider the completion of homework as a major factor in our ISTEP+ success. The implementation of ongoing assessment that drives instruction and remediation is the most important reason for our success."

1.2.5. "We are a small rural, lower socio-economic community. There is a great deal of community pride in our school. Our school’s success can be attributed to a great joint effort between our school and our parents. Parent involvement plays a huge role in any school’s success. We can assign the work, but without help at home, it probably would not get completed."

1.2.6. "All homework is used as a way to give students some extra practice and keep parents connected to what is happening at school. I would rank homework as ‘Somewhat Important.’ The most important component is the daily teaching in the classroom."

1.3. Survey Question "G". In what way(s) were parent and community involvement particularly important to the ISTEP+ success of your third grade students?

1.4. Question "G" Conclusions. Ten of the Results Leaders responded to this question regarding parent and community involvement.

1.4.1. Nine of the ten respondents reported that parental involvement is important to their school, and eight found that parental involvement helped achieve ISTEP+ success.

1.4.2. Four respondents cited specific non-parental community members who helped their third graders succeed.

Some insightful comments include those listed next.

1.4.3. "Parents are responsible to check homework and communication folders daily. Community partnership with First Presbyterian Church provides tutoring for many of our students."

1.4.4. "Community groups such as the Dyslexia Association were of great help in that they provided extra assistance to students in need. Parent volunteers in the classroom are also of value. Helping parents understand the expectation and what the students really have to do to be successful on ISTEP+ is also important."

1.4.5. "Free breakfasts, informing parents of the importance of the test, stressing to parents that their student is well rested and has good attendance during the testing week, parent help with the practice materials sent home."

1.4.6. "We are a small rural community. We are fortunate to have a great deal of parental as well as community support, however I do not see anything special relative to ISTEP in this area."

1.4.7. "Parents help with homework and support our efforts. We had some retired teachers volunteer with small groups."

1.4.8. "We are a community based school. Everything we do, we have tremendous parent support. We have parent volunteers that come in and provide reward parties for our students. Most importantly, they make sure their children know that this is important. The kids come to school rested and ready to go."

1.4.9. "The parent education night for ISTEP+ is very helpful to our parents and makes them aware of the significance of the test. They help to make sure our students come to school daily ready to learn and focus on the assessment. Our parents also provide daily snacks during ISTEP+. Overall, our parents and community support us every day by reinforcing the importance of education, and ensuring that our students come to school each day and are ready to learn and grow."

2. Particularly Important
School Resources, Activities, Instructional Philosophies,
Classroom Techniques, Math or Reading Instructional Programs,
ISTEP "Test-Taking Strategies" & Other Factors

2.1. Survey Question "B". What school resources were particularly important to the ISTEP+ success of your third grade students?

2.2. Question "B" Conclusions. All eleven Results Leaders identified particularly important school resources.

2.2.1. Five respondents cited an ongoing, data-driven remediation program (often involving Title I staff and aides) focused on individual and small group instruction.

2.2.2. Individual student needs were most often identified by NWEA scores, DIBELS, and classroom teacher observations.

2.2.3. Purposeful teaching based on the state standards was cited as particularly important by three respondents.

2.2.4. Two respondents found the careful selection of excellent teachers to be particularly important.

2.2.5. Three respondents found professional development and resources for teachers to be particularly important.

2.2.6. Classroom libraries, the media center, poetry anthologies, or literature collections were particularly important school resources for four respondents.

2.2.7. Two respondents cited the use of math manipulatives.

Some insightful comments include those listed next.

2.2.8. "A remediation plan that provided literacy support to students reading below grade level, differentiated math groups based upon the Saxon Math placement test, and literacy groups were the three school resources most important to ISTEP success."

2.2.9. "The Response to Instruction Room used NWEA data to group students and teach the Goal Strands. Particular programs that stand out are State Adopted Saxon Math, supplemental Accelerated Math, teaching to the multiple intelligences, and the use of manipulatives."

2.2.10. "Math labs, classroom libraries (including 6 Traits books and non-fiction), planning instruction based on NWEA scores, Readers' Notebooks, and poetry anthologies."

2.2.11. "Our media center, laptops computers, literature collections, and professional resources for teachers along with the math manipulatives and science equipment on hand."

2.2.12. "Acuity testing, Acuity Intervention Aide for grades 3-5, DIBELS testing, resource help, and standard based teaching and learning."

2.2.13. "Having the Title I staff and aides to implement an ongoing remediation program that is driven by data are the most important resources we have."

2.2.14. "We have a very strong early literacy program with a licensed teacher in our first grade, full time, dedicated to helping struggling readers via small group instruction. In second grade we also have a licensed teacher 1/2 day to work with these students. We are also able to identify students in kindergarten and first grade to participate in Fast ForWord, a program utilized in our computer labs to help with reading skill development…. Professional development for our teachers is very important and unfortunately the funding cuts in PL221 are going to really hurt. We have used any funding we do get in this area to fund our participation in C.L.A.S.S. (Connecting Learning Assures Successful Students)."

2.2.15. "A rigorous and standardized process for selecting our new teachers contributes to the high results for all students, at all levels. Ninety percent of our staff have been selected through this process, and it identifies those potential staff members who are predisposed to focusing on creating meaningful and engaging work for students."

2.3. Survey Question "C". What school activities, instructional philosophies, and/or classroom techniques were particularly important to the ISTEP+ success of your third graders?

2.4. Question "C" Conclusions.

2.4.1. Several Results Leader respondents identified as particularly important the ongoing use of data from NWEA and other assessments to target remediation and enrichment efforts for individual students and student groups.

2.4.2. Each school generally uses reading, writing and math programs and workshops adapted to address the particular identified needs of their students.

2.4.3. Various ISTEP test-taking strategies that focus on state standards, including practice tests and materials, are utilized.

2.4.4. One key leadership factor seems to be the creation of a non-threatening environment that emphasizes the expectation that both students and teachers will succeed.

Some insightful comments include those listed next.

2.4.5. "The principal met with each student to go over their personal data and to encourage them to do their personal best on ISTEP. We had No Homework policy the week of ISTEP to concentrate on going to bed early and eating a healthy breakfast. We had a uniform testing block in the morning where all students in grades 3-6 tested at the same time."

2.4.6. "Our inquiry-based approach to teaching and learning, our reading and writing workshop approach, and our thematic units that involve authentic experiences, student questions, and field experts."

2.4.7. "Ability grouping, student observations, accumulative reviewing, ISTEP practice tests and materials, leveled reading books, basal reader skills tests, K-2 Voyager Early Literacy Intervention Reading Program, K-2 Literacy program, K-2 Title I program, and K-2 DIBELS."

2.4.8. "We have utilized a data driven program called SSP for the past several years. This program provides remediation as well as enrichment to identified students. Data is collected every 2 weeks."

2.4.9. "We also create an atmosphere where students know the expectation is for them to succeed."

2.4.10. "I have a gentleman teaching third grade with ‘old school’ philosophies. He teaches math by drill, drill, drill. Reading is taught by practice, practice, practice."

2.4.11. "In conjunction with these themes, we use data collected through NWEA, ISTEP, and ongoing formative assessments to identify individual student needs and tweak instruction to address those needs. Another key component for third and fourth-grade students would be our morning learning clubs. We have licensed teachers who lead these small group sessions, before school begins, to work with our struggling students. We use ISTEP+ online resources (sample questions) in these sessions."

2.4.12. "Formative and summative assessments create another data point, and also provides for almost immediate feedback so that teachers can adjust instruction and grouping immediately. Our strategic plan has student achievement as a non-negotiable goal. A teacher growth model of evaluation helps teachers strive for more success with students by trying innovative practices in a non-threatening atmosphere."

2.5. Survey Question "D". Do you attribute any of your success to specific math or reading instructional programs? If so, please explain.

2.6. Question "D" Conclusions.

2.6.1. Eight Results Leaders attributed some of their success to specific instructional programs. More than twenty different programs were identified, with three of them used at two schools – Saxon Math, 6+1 Writing Traits, Accelerated Reader.

2.6.2. Three Results Leaders reported using a variety of approaches to instruction and remediation where effective teachers and staff make the difference.

Some insightful comments include those listed next.

2.6.3. "We had a school wide focus on Comprehension Strategies taken from the Comprehension Toolkit program. Third grade also supplemented their Saxon math with a Daily Math Review developed by school teachers in Wayne township."

2.6.4. "The Response to Instruction Program, Saxon Math, and the Accelerated Math Program."

2.6.5. "6+1 Writing Traits, Literacy Collaborative (guided reading, reader's/writer's workshop, etc.), Rocket Math."

2.6.6. "We take an investigative approach to math and a workshop approach (modeled off of Caulkins, Bomer, etc and supported by the Partnership for Young Writers) to reading and writing."

2.6.7. "6+1 Writing Traits, our reading series (Houghton Mifflin), … K-2 Voyager Early Literacy Intervention Reading Program, K-2 Literacy program, K-2 Title I program, and K-2 DIBELS."

2.6.8. "Specific programs that success could be attributed to would include Accelerated Reader and Sidewalks Reading."

2.6.9. "We used the Odyssey Program, and Study Island. These are computer programs that are in the ISTEP+ format. All of our students took the 2010 test on-line. This was a major factor as well. In addition, we use the Accelerated Reading program."

2.6.10. "Part of this process is the inclusion of the program FastForWord, which not only helps children overcome auditory processing problems, but also enhances their ability to focus in all subject areas."

2.6.11. "We use a variety of approaches as not just "one" approach works with all students. This is where the effectiveness of the teacher and professional development is so important. Teachers need to know how to identify student needs and then identify the best strategy."

2.7. Survey Question "F". What, if any, ISTEP+ "test-taking strategies" were particularly important?

2.8 Question "F" Conclusions.

2.8.1. Seven of the nine Results Leader respondents identified a variety of helpful "test-taking strategies."

2.8.2. Three respondents took advantage of ISTEP practice tests and materials provided by the Indiana Department of Education.

2.8.3. Two respondents indicated that no test taking strategies were utilized other than positive encouragement.

Some insightful comments include those listed next.

2.8.4. "Reading questions before they read the passage. Writing and interacting with the text passages (for example, underlining important details, writing reactions to the text). Going back and underlining your answer in the text."

2.8.5. "Working with students on timing … realizing how long they have to complete a test and what that time allotment feels like … helping them to use the time they are given. Working with students on test direction vocabulary."

2.8.6. "We stress test-taking strategies throughout the course of the school year in all of our classrooms."

2.8.7. "We focused on Organization, Ideas, and Word Choice in our Applied Skills Writing. We use school-wide problem solving strategies."

2.8.8. "I believe the Study Island, Odyssey, and Accelerated Reading programs prepared our students for taking the test on-line."

2.8.9. "We do a kick-off convocation with our third and fourth grade students to get them excited about the test and talk through test-taking strategies. We use the online ISTEP+ resources available through DOE in our classrooms and in our before-school learning clubs, and we provide a parent education night to inform parents about ISTEP+."

2.9. Survey Question "H". What other factors were important to the ISTEP+ success of your third graders last Spring?

2.10. Question "H" Conclusions. Ten of the Results Leader respondents identified the other important factors listed next.

2.10.1. "Special Education teacher exposed students to grade level standards."

2.10.2. "The staff put on a motivational convocation to kick off ISTEP+. Daily motivational announcements were read. Incentives, such as extra recess, going to local restaurants, and ISTEP+ medals."

2.10.3. "Strong focus on reading and math in primary grades."

2.10.4. "Balancing the message sent to students … the test is majorly important and they need to do their best but also being cautious not to make them so nervous they don't do their best."

2.10.5. "Staff support throughout the entire building. ISTEP+ pep rally/tunnel of success!"

2.10.6. "We implemented a ‘Recess Academy" in which students at risk of not passing ISTEP were given additional time to master certain concepts during lunch recess twice a week."

2.10.7. "Creating a positive environment where students and teachers can be successful."

2.10.8. "We are a small school and our students get more individualized instruction. Even with the budget cuts, we have managed to take care of business. I was forced to give up my full time Title I teacher due to budget concerns. My staff has done a tremendous job of stepping up to insure our kids do not suffer due to this loss."

2.10.9. "I believe the effectiveness of our teaching staff is key. We have now been open for 10 years and are now at a point where we have consistency with our teaching staff. Most of our grade level teams have now been together for a number of years and have worked diligently to perfect the yearlong themes, teaching strategies, data, etc. They are true professional learning communities."

2.10.10. "Central Office data support answers queries from data teams to focus even more narrowly on areas where instructional problems are occurring. Leadership Design Teams focus on student achievement, and district processes are aligned that enhance this achievement."

3. Teacher Quality versus Learning Environment

3.1. Survey Question "E". Was the ISTEP+ success of your third graders last school year primarily dependent on a particular teacher(s), or would other teachers in the same environment have the same outcome?

3.2. Question "E" Conclusions.

3.2.1. Of the ten Results Leaders who responded, six thought other teachers in their learning environment would have a similar ISTEP outcome.

3.2.2. Two Results Leaders felt teachers deserve the credit for ISTEP success.

3.2.3. Two respondents felt their ISTEP success was a combination of a good learning environment and good teachers.

Some insightful comments include those listed next.

3.2.4. "Having teachers who support students and work together impact student success. These specific teachers are successful teaching this specific clientele."

3.2.5. "Any teacher could achieve results as long as they understand the socioeconomic status of their students."

3.2.6. "It was a combination - these teachers did an excellent job with teaching literacy collaborative."

3.2.7. "Our teachers are high quality and involved in continual development and collaboration. This is so important to student success. However, the techniques they use are also vital to our success. A high quality teacher implementing curriculum and instruction not following best practices would not get the results nor would a mediocre teacher trying to implement our practices but doing it without the philosophical underpinnings or the support needed. One thing the state could do to help our school in this area is re-instate the PBA days that allowed us chunks of time (half-days 6 x a year) to work together. It has been tremendously difficult to continue our growth without this valuable teacher time."

3.2.8. "We work hard as an entire school community to stress the importance of the ISTEP test. We work hard to prepare our students and provide them with a testing environment that is set up for success on ISTEP."

3.2.9. "We provide for monthly grade level meetings where our grade level teachers meet together to coordinate instruction and collaborate with each other. 3.2.10. This promotes the same curriculum being presented to each student with state standards being the instructional guide. For this reason I feel the outcomes would be consistent."

3.2.11. "We are a 1 section school. All of our teachers utilize the same programs. Our fourth and fifth grades also enjoyed the same success as on ISTEP+ as did our third grade class."

3.2.13. "I do believe other teachers could have the same outcome but the same level of commitment would need to be there in regards to developing the connecting curriculum, monitoring via ongoing assessments, target-teaching, and researching to find the best teaching practices/resources to use with individual students."

3.3. Survey Question "J". Is it reasonable to expect that your third graders this year will achieve similar ISTEP+ success as last Spring?

3.4. Question "J" Conclusions.

3.4.1. Eight of the eleven responding Results Leaders expect this year’s third graders to achieve similar ISTEP success as last year.

3.4.2. While hopeful, three Results Leaders are uncertain if last year’s success can be repeated this year.

Some insightful comments include those listed next.

3.4.3. "We expect our students to have similar success this Spring; however, our 3rd grade teachers do not feel the current group is as strong academically as last year's group."

3.4.4. "We may not achieve the scores we did in 2010, but I expect we will be real close. The students are the variables. We take what the parents in our district send us, and push them to do their best. If they do their best, then we will be successful regardless of the scores."

3.4.5. "Even though you point out one specific grade level for your response, all of our schools operate under a set of common practices which would allow any of them to achieve these results in any year."

3.4.6. "I'm not sure. We have a needy group of kids this year. We have 3 teachers in third grade. One has been on a maternity leave sub for 3/4 of the year and another has missed several days due to illness. Inconsistent attendance affects student performance."

3.4.7. "We are hopeful but each group of students has different learning styles and come to us with different levels of understanding. We also have a very transient population."

3.4.8. "Relative to next years test scores, staffing cuts as a result of the current economic issues are a concern in this area."

3.5. Survey Question "K". Do you think other public schools statewide can improve their ISTEP+ results if they adopt your "best practices"?

3.6. Question "K" Conclusions.

3.6.1. Half of the ten Results Leaders who responded believe statewide ISTEP results will improve if other schools adopt their "best practices."

3.6.2. The other five respondents feel that each school needs to determine the "best fit" for their particular student population.

Some insightful comments include those listed next.

3.6.3. "Yes … but only if the teacher professional development accompanies the practice."

3.6.4. "Yes, I think data driven decision making by schools can make a huge difference in ISTEP scores."

3.6.5. "YES, and I think it is very important for us to learn from one another in our state."

3.6.6. "I have taught in 3 different corporations (urban, suburban and rural). Each school has a unique set of kids with different needs and challenges. What works for one school may not work for another. I would hope that focusing on reading strategies and providing a remediation and enrichment time (ISB) would be beneficial to any student population."

3.6.7. "I think each school has to look at their population and make determination for what’s best for their students based upon their school’s data."

3.6.8. "In my opinion each school and staff are unique. What works for one may not necessarily work for another. Its important to find the programs that are the ‘best fit’ for each school and community, positively promote them and give them an opportunity."

3.6.9. "Only if they have excellent teachers."

3.6.10. "Best Practices have to be modeled to the student. What works for some may not work for others."

4. New Initiatives

4.1. Survey Question "I". Are you trying anything new this year so your current third graders will have the same ISTEP+ success as last Spring’s third graders?

4.2. Question "I" Conclusions. Nine of the ten Results Leader respondents indicated they are implementing the new initiatives listed next to maintain their ISTEP success.

4.2.1. "An ISB (Individual Skill Building) block of time has been implemented for 30 minutes, 4 days a week. All students in grades 3-6 are placed into groups based upon their data (reading level, Writing Prompt, ISTEP+ data, Gates). Depending upon their need, students will receive instruction in Number Worlds (research based Math intervention), Advanced Problem solving group, High Ability, Literacy Group, Great Books, Writing or Study Skills."

4.2.2. "Kay Davidson Tips for Applied Math and drill of math content, word meanings, and math facts. We are always refining Response to Instruction based on the current data."

4.2.3. "We are implementing a new curriculum in our district that incorporates Lucy Calkins."

4.2.4. "Sharing more data with students and helping them to set personal goals."

4.2.5. "DIBELS testing in grades K-5. RTI for language in grade K-5. Voyager Early Literacy Intervention Program in grade K-5. We are hoping our new math series (Math in Focus) will be helpful in the future."

4.2.6. "New efforts this year will include a revision in our SSP testing procedure. We are also implementing a special reading program specifically geared to our male students (grade 5 only). The Acuity program has also been added."

4.2.7. "We are implementing an after-school program in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades for students at risk of not passing ISTEP in addition to Recess Academy."

4.2.8. "We are using Acuity for our ongoing assessment rather than Classroom Manager. Both are McGraw Hill products, but Acuity is online testing with immediate feedback."

4.2.9. "We have started doing Acuity testing this year. This will help us identify at risk students and get them the preventive remediation needed."

5. Opportunities & Challenges

5.1. Survey Question "L". What opportunities and challenges the next three years are likely to impact the ISTEP+ success of your future third grade students?

5.2. Question "L" Conclusions.

5.2.1. All ten Results Leaders who responded identified challenges, but only 2 respondents identified a couple of opportunities.

5.2.2. Four respondents foresee challenges from budget shortfalls impacting class sizes and the availability of remediation aides.

5.2.3. Three Results Leaders cite the challenges of fewer professional development opportunities for teachers due to funding cuts.

5.2.4. Changes in expectations and mandates from the state and federal governments present challenges to three Results Leaders.

5.2.5. Two respondents perceive online ISTEP tests as a challenge.

Some insightful comments include those listed next.

5.2.6. "A big challenge for us will be taking the ISTEP+ on line and changes in expectations and mandates from the state, as well as budgets to our schools that will impact class size. An opportunity for us is to access students through Acuity which will help us drive individual student instruction."

5.2.7. "Teacher curve for learning and implementation of the new curriculum, new assessments in our district that drive instruction - gaining and implementing that mind-set."

5.2.8. "Challenges: We have lost all professional development money from the state that was coming directly to the school and lost our PBA days. Working with teachers in 30 or 40 minute "prep" time blocks is not sufficient to sustain best practice. We would also benefit from state funded and mandated full-day Kindergarten. Opportunities: a more balanced calendar (though not all the way there yet) that allows remediation and enrichment as we go."

5.2.9. "Gaps on our new math series; it is a higher level thinking program that will take a few years to incorporate - this could present a challenge for our 3rd graders. Lack of parent involvement. Lack of funding. Increased class sizes. Lack of student motivation to do their personal best and take pride in their school work."

5.2.10. "Proposed changes on both State and Federal levels can have a profound effect on education in the future. Those schools that are considered ‘successful’ should have the autonomy to build upon their successes."

5.2.11. "We plan to become more stringent on who gets into third grade in light of the possibility of students who do not pass ISTEP being retained in third grade."

5.2.12. "Making sure we have the funding to provide our students with small class sizes and aides to implement remediation programs for students that need it."

5.2.13. "I do see the requirements to do all assessments online as a challenge. We continue to have funding cuts in the area of technology, but yet will be required to have the technology available for these online assessments. In addition, the administration of ISTEP+ online last year was a disaster. We had students start the assessment and then when it didn't work due to the DOE system, students had to move to the paper/pencil version. I hope these glitches have been worked out for this spring's administration. The funding cuts in professional development will also be detrimental to learning."

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This page was last updated on 12/02/11.