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Curriculum Corner September 2016
  • Digestable Data - Hungry to Close the Achievement Gap

    Digestible data, when put it into the hands of teacher leaders, impacts instruction. Our duty to address achievement gaps reflects Tyrone Howard's work, "Transform the school, not the child." The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) Evidence Statements Analyses (ESA) can be the catalyst that sparks this premise. The following is a recap of a district level, collaborative inquiry, data workshop held with teacher leaders.

    With adult learning in our purview, a social learning model was utilized for this data interaction. Teacher leaders were given an internet-connected laptop, with the site for PARCC released items pulled up and ready for their review: http://www.parcconline.org/assessments/test-design/released-items. A hard copy of the NJ Standards for Student Learning was given to each participant.

    Beginning with a brief, macro review of district performance on Measures of Academic Progress  (MAP) and PARCC, the workshop opened with the facilitator reviewing Algebra ESAs, utilizing a think aloud model  to show the group how to look at the charts. The chart was given to each participant and displayed on the Smart Board. First, points of praise were discussed, then, areas of concern were sited. 

    For each of the data points that fell below expectation, the facilitator modeled looking up the standard, and then looking at released items to see how questions were phrased. An immediate buzz of learning was noted in the groups. This process was modeled for the group with three data points. When the teachers understood their task, data folders were then distributed to each teacher leader, containing ESAs, by grade level, in Mathematics and Language Arts Literacy.

    Participants were then moved into grade level, job-alike groups. They dove into the data review, looking at questions and standards. Their discussions were highlighted by their looking at PARCC released questions. The groups deduced that small tweaks in the language of how they phrase their test questions would serve to assist students in their application of the standard. Teachers reflected on placement of units and specific skills in our curricular calendar, again reflecting on how slight adjustments in unit placement would help students with the assessment. Teacher leaders were heard stating that this was the most useful data work they had done to this point.

    Participants were told that each group would present a "Gallery Tour" poster of their significant findings at the close of the workshop. During this gallery tour, groups presented their work, and teachers used sticky notes to comment on it. The facilitator highlighted common themes seen in Mathematics and Language Arts Literacy across the grade levels. These highlights are our next step in enhancing our curricula. Teacher leaders will be working with these standards utilizing the Connected Action Roadmap model to gain deeper understanding of their significance to our students.

    Michael Fullan, in the 2016 edition of "The New Meaning of Educational Change," states that, "Schools in which teachers have a shared consensus about the goals of the organization and of their work are more like to incorporate new ideas directed to student learning." Our teacher leaders deciphered some of the goals we need to address achievement gaps in this workshop. We are hungry to close the gaps and know that we are not done with this work. With this process, we have come away with a sharp focus for student learning…that is what we are all about.