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Closing the Achievement Gap and Increasing Rigor

An exploration of how one former Assistant Principal did it in One Year

Rosa Thompson

on 12 October 2013

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Transcript of Closing the Achievement Gap and Increasing Rigor

By Dr. Rosa M Cabrera & Dr. Judy Trotti UMHB Professor
Principal, Nathaniel Q. Henderson
A Message from Kid President
Teachers need to stop being Boring!
What Teachers are Saying about Interventions
Mrs. Price, 1st Grade Teacher
Miss. Kiel, 2nd Grade Teacher
Implementing Intense Vocabulary Development
What the Researchers are saying is necessary
Closing the Achievement Gap and Increasing Rigor
In this session you will learn about:
Intense Vocabulary Development and what that looks like during instruction
Providing Reading Interventions during the instructional day that targets specific student needs
Increasing rigor to the level of STAAR so that your students and teachers can be more successful

Closing the Achievement Gap and Increasing Rigor


A Prescribed Method

Phonemic Awareness
Reading of a new book daily
Writing (every Tuesday & Thursday)
Read Aloud (seperate from new book)-One Weekly
Vocabulary Development (based on words found in text)
Word Work
Weekly Assessment (Fridays)
The purpose of this presentation is to look at how to effectively implement intense Vocabulary Development and Reading Interventions that will assist administrators in closing the achievement gaps and increase rigor that will transfer in supporting other skills and ensure teacher and student success on STAAR and other standardized test.
What Does that look like?

Leveled Guided Reading Library
Electronic Intervention Journal
Intervention Folder
Homework check-list and folder
Dolch Sight-words through 3rd grade
Writing Journals
Fountas & Pinnell Leveled Literacy Intervention Kits


Intervention Groups

53% of 5th graders received some intervention during the school-wide block. 45% of students who received LLI Interventions during the intervention block passed the STAAR
100% of students on a DRA level of 50 and above passed STAAR
There is a strong correlation between reading on grade level (DRA 50) and above and STAAR passage rates in reading
The interventions at all grade levels will be an important part of academic success on STAAR
Teachers (2 & 3) who had a higher passage rate also had a higher % of students who benefited from interventions
100% of students who passed with below a 50 DRA received LLI Interventions during intervention block
100% of students on a DRA level of 80 and above got commended on STAAR

5th Grade Reading STAAR Results

A close look at K-5th Grade Reading DRA Data from BOY- EOY

Closing the Reading Gap at Isaacs E.S. in One Year

Kindergarten Reading Data

1st Grade Reading Data

2nd Grade Reading Data

3rd Grade Reading Data

4th Grade Reading Data

5th Grade Data Reading Data

Summary of Data
These results are just based on reading on grade level by MOY and beyond:
Kindergarten: 38/55 students reading on 1st grade level= 69% total
1st Grade: 47/58 students reading on MOY 1st/2nd grade level= 81%
2nd Grade: 52/58 students reading on MOY 2nd/3rd grade level= 90%
3rd Grade: 45/57 students reading on MOY 3rd grade/4th/5th grade level= 79%
4th Grade: 25/55 students reading on EOY 3rd grade/4th grade level=56%
5th Grade: 33/60 students reading on 5th/6th/7th grade level= 55%

The campus as a whole went from 20% overall reading on grade level to now 72% reading on or above grade level. The gap was closed by 52 percentage points in one year using a prescribed reading intervention method during a school-wide intervention block and small group interventions. A total of 240 students out of 343 are now reading at the required reading level to be successful for the next year (not including Pre-K students or withdrawn students). The campus has a total of 412 students.

What we now know about STAAR based on two years of DATA
Students need to be on or above grade level in reading to be successful on STAAR
Literacy & Vocabulary interventions are effective in increasing STAAR passage rates in reading
According to 2014-2016 state standards-This Elementary School will need to continue to provide intense interventions in reading in order to meet the increasing demands of the state for Phase II and III
There is a correlation between interventions and increased performance on STAAR

Increasing vocabulary through exposure of at least 8-10 words a day (retainability of 2-3 words) will gain 400 words a year and would have measurable effects on vocabulary size. If sustained over three years, this would add about two-thirds of the number of words needed to bring children from the lowest vocabulary quartile to average vocabulary levels.
A classroom intervention plan of 30 minutes a day is an effective tool. Curricula that result in children reaching grade 3 without the best possible vocabulary instruction and opportunities are curricula that hold disadvantaged children back (Biemiller & Slonim, 2001).
We will not begin to close the gap between advantaged and disadvantaged children until we also succeed in ensuring adequate vocabulary development (Biemiller & Slonim, 2001)

Successful vocabulary programs have used read aloud books several times over the course of a week which is combined with word explanation of specific words.
Most vocabulary differences occur prior to third . After second grade most children acquire new words at about the same rate. However, by the fifth grade, lower quartile children have not yet attained the same size vocabulary as high quartile children in the second grade (Biemiller & Slonim, 2001).
Educators and leaders looking to close the achievement gap will need to not only take a closer look at teaching, but also providing multiple layers of interventions and on-going training for teachers (Fountas & Pinnell, 2009).
Components of an Effective Literacy Intervention Program
Fountas and Pinnell (2011) identified 15 keys to effective interventions, which consist of:
Daily group instruction; (2) research driven approach; (3) low student-teacher ratio; (4) accelerated process with entry and exit points; (5) framework that is structured and systematic; (6) fast paced lessons that are well designed and sequenced; (7) explicit teaching method for reading fluency; (8) explicit teaching method for comprehension; (9) well designed plan for phonics and word study; (10) writing component that involves reading; (11) leveled text library with selection that is engaging; (12) assessment, progress monitoring, and record keeping that is systematic; (13) connection with classroom for students and teachers; (14) at home connection with parents and school; (15) professional development for all teachers (Fountas & Pinnell, 2011).

Assessing Rigor on STAAR and Helping Teachers achieve the Best Results
Requires higher and deeper levels of content knowledge
Requires more inferential thinking and knowledge
Will look at the hardest TEKS
Significantly more rigorous
Requires higher level of teacher content and concept knowledge
Will measure both student performance and academic performance
Grades 3-8 STAAR in math will be linked to performance expectation for Algebra II STAAR
Will have clearer (more precise, more specific, pinpointed), fewer (fewer SE’s at greater depth), and deeper focus
Must be linked to college readiness
Rooted in instructional practice and NOVELTY of instructional experiences

STAAR=Academic Readines
Academic Readiness underpins the STAAR system: A measure of readiness rather than a measure of attainment-readiness in terms of preparedness for the next grade level and for college.

Two categories of TEKS are eligible to be assessed in STAAR:
Readiness standards-65% of STAAR/2-4 items per standard (comprise 30% of eligible standards)
Supporting standards-35% of STAAR/0-1 item per standard (comprise 70% of eligible standards)

What Does This Mean to You?
It means that more than 2/3 of the test is on information they will need to know for next year. So if you have 5th graders taking a STAAR test, 2/3 or more of what they will be tested on is on content they will need to know for 6th grade and/or is on a 6th grade level.

Let’s take a look at our Vertical Alignment Matrix for TEK 5.2D and see what the 6th grade TEK states and lets take a deeper look into our own practices and how we are currently teaching this.

Use models to relate decimals to fractions that name tenths, hundredths, and thousandths with models such as base-ten blocks, fraction bars, and paper grids.

Generate equivalent forms of rational numbers including whole numbers, fractions, and decimals using various methods including manipulatives or pictorial models.

Let's take a Look at Question 6 on the Benchmark
Only 60% of students in the district got this correct.
Although TEKS 5.2D says to use models to relate decimals to fractions that name tenths, hundredths, and thousandths with models such as base-ten blocks, fraction bars, and paper grids.
Look at the methods used to solve this problem.
They are more similar to 6.1B aren’t they?

To Solve this problem:
Students need to understand that the individual shaded squares can be collected and placed into fraction bars and graph paper.
They need to understand that the order of the shaded squares can be re-arranged and that fraction bars can be created to solve the problem.
Students also need to understand the vocabulary relative to the problem
There were multiple steps involved in this problem.
Once students organized the information on grid paper they had to then turn it in Tenths.
Place value becomes key
Students need to have a concrete understanding of place value and the value of 5 Tenths= 0.5
Students also need to understand that a half represents 5 tenths. The grid paper and the use of this during instruction becomes an important factor.

Now Let's Take a Look at Question 9

Turning Fractions into Decimals
Students need practice turning fractions into decimals.
The question to the right asks, “Which model shows 4/100 shaded.”
If kids understand place value, they would know to eliminate answer choice A and C because the question is not asking for anything in the tenths place.
When you take a closer look at what is left, you see answer choice B and D. When students count by ones, they see clearly answer B is the answer because there is only 4 out of 100 shaded.

Let’s take it a step further….
Students need to take many examples as shown on the right and practice turning all four answer choices to decimals.

Let’s look at the Place Value Chart and How we are Teaching it.
One hundreds block is equivalent to a ONES is the ones place on the place value chart. Students need to understand this. They also need to understand everything that is left over falls in the decimals place to the right of the decimal. For example 2.38 is equivalent to 2 One hundreds block, Three Base Ten blocks, and 8 ones blocks. The term base ten maybe confusing to some students because they may automatically assume it goes in the Tens place…but we know that is goes in the Tenths place on the place value chart.

Pay Attention to the Vocabulary
Students can easily be confused with the terminology Hundreds vs Hundredths when referring to the Hundreds Block. When you look at the place value chart, it has a Hundredths and Hundreds place. But when turning fractions into decimals, the rules are a little different as I explained earlier.

The Base Tens would go in the Tenths place and the Ones blocks would go into the Hundredths place.
In the case of Question 6…the block was shaded like a checker board and students had to figure out how many total blocks existed and how many were shaded.

Rigor, Depth, & Complexity
As we know the test contains a greater number of items with a higher level of cognitive complexity.
The items developed match closely the cognitive complexity level evident in the TEKS.
In Math, process skills will be assessed in context (embedded into the question), not in isolation, which will allow for a more integrated and authentic assessment of the content areas. Process skills as we know will be embedded in at least 75% of questions (formerly known as Objective 6).
The number of open-ended (griddable) items will increase to allow students more opportunity to derive an answer independently.

What is Rigor, Depth, and Complexity?
TEA has not released definitions for what Rigor, Depth, and Complexity are…but in studying the STAAR assessment this is an accurate definition we should be thinking along the lines of when preparing our students.
Rigor is defined as challenging and difficult.
Depth is defined as a degree of intensity
Complexity is defined as a whole made up of complicated or interrelated parts (such as the case of embedded process skills)

Source: Merriam-Webster Dictionary

What does it look like and how do I teach with Depth and Rigor?
Let’s take a look at the action verbs in the TEKS for the Fall District Level Assessment Blueprint.
Highlight with a yellow marker the action verbs
Using your Depth of Knowledge chart I provided you, identify the action words on the chart and what level of thinking is needed for students.

Levels of Depth
There are 4 levels of Depth associated with the TEKS.
Level One-Recall
Level Two-Skill Concept
Level Three-Strategic Thinking
Level Four-Extended Thinking
On the latest Fall District Benchmark all four levels are tested because there are embedded process skills that have all four levels. But the assessment itself is primarily on a level two.

TEA released the item analysis for the STAAR assessment given in April 2012.
Using the levels I described earlier, I color coded the item analysis.
Level 1-coded Blue
Level 2-coded Green
Level 3-coded Orange
Level 4-coded Red

What is the pattern you see in the Coding?
Most of the test is coded green (level 2), as a matter of fact, 86% of the test is level 2 questions with several level 3 process skills embedded.
There are no level 4 questions.
31% of the tests embedded process skills are level 3.
22% of the tests embedded process skills are level 2.
20% of the tests embedded process skills are level 1.

Take a Look at Question 9
What can you tell me based on the item analysis?
How would you use the place value chart to explain this to students?
What kind of intervention would you provide?

We need to understand where we are going in order to understand how to get students there.
I am not saying to teach 6th grade TEKS….what I am saying is that a lot of the skills being tested are assessing whether students are ready to think at a 6th grade level. This is why it is important to use your VAM when placing lessons that require Rigor, Depth, and Complexity. Students need to be able to think on at least levels 2,3, and 4 to be successful. Which also means that we need to provide different approaches and experiences for our students.

Biemiller, A., & Slonim, N. (2001). Estimating root word vocabulary growth in normative and advantaged populations: Evidence for common sequence of vocabulary acquisition. Journal of Educational Psychology, 93, 498-520.
Cabrera, R. (2013). African American Males: Factors that Contribute to Their Academic Success Dissertation. University of Mary Hardin-Baylor
Fountas, I. C., & Pinnell, G. S., (2011). When readers struggle: Teaching that works. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
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