Competency 1: Accountability (Teaching and Learning

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1.1 Related Task: Ability to interpret meaning of various standardized tests to boards, teachers and lay citizens.

1.1.3 Specific Task: Ability to use assessment data to identify weaknesses and recommend strategies for improving student performance .

Narrative Description of Task: Review results from most recent state assessment for the building and the trend evident over the last three years. Select one grade level or one subject matter assessment to analyze in depth, including a factor analysis that identifies areas in which students are particularly proficient and those areas where they are particularly deficient. Based on such analysis, I will recommend school improvement strategies tailored to strengthen student performance. I will then share the finding with teachers, parents or the board of education.
When looking at relevant data across comparative years for VR Tech, the test that makes the most sense to look at is comparison of ACT averages. This test offers several advantages. It is given every year to the junior cohort (and seniors that missed it the previous year) and it is considered a state measure for career and college readiness. VR Tech uses the ACT as year end comparison data to monitor scores and improvement. This is especially important because one of VR Tech’s goals is to help students enroll in college. A higher ACT score means there will be a greater amount of scholarship dollars awarded to students, and a greater possibility for continued success in postsecondary education.

Data:

In the three year comparison, we have shown a moderate increase of 1 point in our ACT average from the previous year. (½ point from two years prior) This increase is not statistically significant but could show some growth factor. What is significant is that the data show a

significant decrease in the number of students that scored below a 12. In 2011 35% of students scored below a 12 on the ACT. In 2012 this number decreased to 19%. The significant drop came in 2013 when only 5% of students scored below a 12 on the ACT. This dramatic rate of change over a three year period, and a moderate stabilization/gain in total average can be attributable to several factors.

ACT Averages
16 15.5 15 14.5 14 2011 2012 2013 100% 50% 0% 2011 2012 2013
% of Students Who Scored Above 15

Scores

Two years ago, we instituted a specific ACT prep course that all test takers would be required to participate in. These classes met three days a week with a live subject area teacher. Each class was taught test taking skills in relation to science, reading/writing, and mathematics. This specific curriculum was designed around questions that were on previous ACT tests, and skills

that were deemed necessary for success. Most schools in the Holland area teach ACT prep as an online class. We chose to do this as a live course to emphasize its importance. So far, this strategy has seemed to work very well for teaching basic subject area test taking skills as evident by the decrease in scores under 12. However, it is unclear if these courses are having a dramatic effect on raising the upper end of scores.

To this end, we as a staff identified two general focus areas for the entire student body for school improvement purposes. The areas we chose relate to basic reading and mathematic skills. In order to determine existing skills, each student was given the SRI (Scholastic Reading Inventory) test and the discovery math test. This helped serve as data for determining a strategy of action.

% of Student Who Scored Below 12
40% 20% 0% 2011 2012 2013
% of Students

Reading Strategies : Those students that were in the bottom 30 SRI scores were placed in focused reading groups taught by the counselor and the english teacher. They were allowed to choose a group book and curriculum and met 3 times a week to work on it. This was designed to increase the ability

level of our lowest readers, which in turn would help them within the classroom. While this part of the reading strategy was designed to continue raising the lowest achievers, we still wanted to increase the reading ability of all students. To this end we added Sustained Silent Reading in all labs for 20 minutes 3 days a week. Students were able to choose from books in the library, comic books, or magazines. The effectiveness of these strategies will be tested by administering the SRI again to students for a growth comparison. These strategies will also help create a long term increase in ACT scores, as much of the test is reading comprehension based.

Mathematics Strategies: Based on discovery testing results for math, there were several strategies that were implemented schoolwide. The first is that a new math note taking template was created. These templates ask students to write down the lesson objective, key formulas and practice problems all in one sheet. Students were also given note organizers in order to keep these sheets available. Anecdotally, many students have said that these sheets have helped them stay focused within math lessons on E2020. The second part to the math strategy has been bringing in tutors from HARP (Holland Area Retired Professionals) These tutors come in 5 afternoons a week and work with several students in hour long blocks. For students that have struggled with math, this has allowed for a great relationship to develop and student confidence to be built up. The third, and most important part of the strategy, is that each lab IA (one for each lab) has agreed to study math sections for Pre-algebra, Algebra and Geometry in order to help students on a more regular basis. This is incredible considering that most math courses are much more advanced than previous years that adults were in high school. This commitment has resulted in an increase in math courses passed. It will be interesting to see if this strategy has any short term and long term benefits in regards to competitive testing like the ACT.

Lessons Learned: After researching data and working collaboratively with our school improvement team I have gained a greater appreciation for the time, energy, and most of all, cooperation that is necessary for not only compiling data, but for creating useful strategies around it. One person could create these aforementioned strategies, but without buy in from staff, there can be no successful implementation. Leading the school improvement team in some of these efforts has taught me a lot on how to work within group dynamics. There were times for diplomacy, times for direct decision making, and also times for argument. Throughout the process though, staff members were treated as valued decision makers with valid points. I found that once we were able to focus on the issues at hand, rather than things outside of our control (politics, state mandates, funding, etc) we were able to accomplish quite a bit. The data that we collect as administrators and school staff is merely the vehicle that we use to inform and justify positive reforms and change within a school setting. Whether or not those changes are effective, is entirely up to the administrator and the staff working collectively for the greater good of students.