Meeting the Requirements of Adequate Yearly Progress By Integrating Computer Software and Test Preparation

City of New York College of Staten Island

Tracey Colasuonno Seminar in Research Education Section 9568 Thursdays 6:30-8:10 Fall 2007 Dr. Fisher

1. Introductiion: I received my undergraduate degreeundergraduate degree from the City University of New York, College of Staten Island in 2005. My degree is in Science Letters and Society\Elementary Education. I currently work as a New York City Department of Education seventh grade English teacher. I have worked as a full time teacher since September 2005. I began my career as a substitute teacher. I substitute taught for one hundred and ten days at Petrides in the 2005-2006 school year. Last year was my first year as a full time middle school teacher. The Petrides School is located in Staten Island, New York. It is located on the original College of Staten Island campus on Ocean Terrace. It is part of district thirty-one. This year our school elected to become part of the Empowerment School Support Organization. There are 496 empowerment schools in the Department of Education. Schools are given a great deal of control over their budget, instruction, pProfessional dDevelopment and aAssessment. My schoolThe Petrides School offers anand interdisciplinary academic program to students in kindergarten through twelfth grade. Students are selected to attend Petrides through a random lottery drawing. A total of 1,274 students attend the school. There are three classes per grade at the elementary level. There are four classes per grade at the middle and high schools levels. Three fifths of the students are Caucasian. One sixth of the student body is African American. One sixth of the student population is Hispanic. Two percent of our students are English Language Learners. The two other main languages spoken at home are Spanish and Chinese. (Department of Education, 2007)

Figure 1: From the website

Figure 2: From the website

Figure 3: From the website

Figure 4: From the website

Twelve percent of the students receive special education services. The Petrides School also hosts an inclusion program for 14 autistic children. The P.S.37 inclusion program allows autistic children the opportunity to be a part of the general education classroom. This year I have been assigned to teach in a seventh grade inclusion

classroom. Three of my students are members of the P.S.37 inclusion program. Two paraprofessionals assist my three inclusion students with our daily classroom routines. I teach four classes of heterogeneously grouped students. Several of my students also receive SETTS services. The SETTS Program provides special education services to these students. I collaborate with the special education teacher to make the proper modifications for my special education students. In addition to my two paraprofessionals and special education teacher, I also work alongside three academic intervention specialists. Two of the AIS teachers pull students out of my class to focus on skillsbased test preparation instruction, with the lower functioning students. One day per week, a group of my highest functioning students are pulled from my classroom for an enrichment program. II. Problem Statement: TheMy problem is my students are not performing to their highest potential on the standardized New York Staten ELA Exam. The adequate yearly progress criteria of the Empowerment School Support Organization requires states, each student must improve by one complete grade level on state exams in ELA and Mathematics. Each schools data is analyzed from grades three through eight. At the Petrides School Oonly 40% of our students, in those grades three through eight, grew at least a year of progress in the area of ELA. Our school earned a grade of C on the New York City Department of Education progress report. My School’s Progress Report Overall Results:The students that are affected by this problem are seventh grade ELA students.

Category Calculated Score School Environment 9.7 out of 15 Student Performance 15.6 out of 30 Student Progress 15.7 out of 55 Additional Credit 2.3 Overall 43.2 How did this school perform? • This School’s overall score for 2006–07 is 43.2 • This score places the School in the 21.0 percentile citywide Scored lower than this school) • This School’s target score for 2007–08 is 58.2 How do the scores translate to grades? K-8 Table Grade Score Range 2006-07City Summary A 64.0–85.0 22.2% of schools B 50.3–64.0 39.3% of schools C 38.1–50.3 26.5% of schools D 29.4–38.0 7.7% of schools F 18.4–29.4 4.3% of schools (New York City Department of Education, Progress Report, 2006-2007 from the website)

The students that are affected by this problem are seventh grade ELA students. The seventh grade is a mandated holdover year. Each student is expected to meet the grade level standards and also makes a full year of progress. This issue also affects teachers. Teachers are expected to enable their students to reach their highest potential by providing skills based test preparation instruction. The nature of this problem involves skills, attitude and knowledge. Students must be prepared for the standardized exams by reviewing the skills outlined by the NYS Standards. Many students are unmotivated to prepare for the exam. I strongly believe their lack of motivation stems from accountability. They never see the test again after it is scored. They are only provided a score. The results are not reviewed with them on an individual basis. They are not held

accountable for the answers they provide. They also feel the majority of the material on the exam does not apply to their every day lives. They do not understand the importance of the material focused on for the exam. In order for students to gfain the knowledge they need to succeed, they must be motivated to learn. In a class of twenty-five students it is very difficult to provide the individualized attention needed for each student. Many parents are not actively involved in assisting their children to reach their highest potential. There is also a great deal of pressure on students to do well on examinations. Joanne Buckheit, Mythe principal of the Petrides School has formed an inquiry team for each of the four grade levels at our school: early childhood, elementary, middle and high school. I am a member of the middle school inquiry team. Together with my principal, assistant principal, special education teachers, school psychologists, counselors and academic intervention specialists, I will take part in an action research project. Our goal is to focus on using best practices to help students achieve, using their critical analysis skills. Our goal is to improve the standardized test scores of 13 seventh grade students, by including them in a skill based individualized instruction program. My intention is to integrate technology and our action research project, to increase student potential on the exam. In order to increase the adequate yearly progress of my students, I will utilize the Inspiration and Skills Tutor Programs. The Inspiration Program will be used to increase the critical analysis skills of my students through the creation of graphic organizers. The second program I will include in my test preparation program is the Skills Tutor Program. This web based program offers instruction for students in kindergarten through twelfth grade. A web page will be created for our school. Students will be able to complete leveled assignments at their own pace. Each

module includes several lessons aligned with the NY State Standards. Administrators and teachers will use the program reports to analyze data, adapt curriculum and individualize instruction.

The action research questions that will guide my study are:  How can the Inspiration Program be used to improve the critical analysis and evaluation skills and English Language Arts Standardized Test scores of seventh grade students?  How can the Skills Tutor web- based software program be used to provide individualized skill based instruction and increase the adequate yearly progress of grade seven English Language Arts students?  How can the Inspiration and Skills Tutor Programs be used to engage and motivate students to participate in a skills based test preparation program?

III.Literature Review: A great deal of pressure has been placed on schools to prepare students for standardized exams. I researched several test preparation programs schools in the United States have utilized to improve test scores. My literature review will begin by describing the No Child Left Behind Act and the Adequate Yearly Progress requirements and the impact they have had on schools. The No Child Left Behind Act has placed a huge amount of pressure on schools and students to meet state testing requirements. Schools are now rated according to the percentage of students meeting adequate yearly progress. In order to made adequate yearly progress a students must make at least one complete

year of growth according to the differential in their standardized test scores. If students do not meet these requirements, they have not absorbed the skills they should have absorbed the required skills throughout the year. Schools across the county struggle to prepare their students to meet the requirements of the newly reformed curriculum. The focus of many schools is to create individualized test preparation programs for each student through data analysis. Schools analyze the needs of each student to provide skills based test preparation. My literature review combines information regarding the test preparation and data analysis strategies utilized by schools across the United States. The resources I included share the results of several alternatives to traditional drill practice test preparation. By integrating technology and standards based instruction, the traditional method of teaching has changed drastically. The resources I included compare and contrast the results of data analysis, technology integration and test preparation programs in schools across the United States. The question that guided my research was how programs such as Inspiration and Skills Tutor can be used to improve student progress and engagement in test preparation? In recent years high stakes test scores have placed schools under a microscope. A huge amount of pressure has been placed on educators because test scores are used to compare schools to one another. With so much pressure placed on a student’s progress on one exam they might miss out on a well-rounded education. Brenson (2002) analyzed the progress of the Weaver County School District. Although this district does not face the problem of low performing schools, their growth has reached a standstill. The test scores of students have not improved or declined slightly. In the district, there are seventeen elementary schools, seven middle schools, four high schools and one vocational school

for juvenile delinquents. In the Pine Valley Middle School, they face the pressure of meeting the statewide accountability plan. An inquiry team was organized to discuss the need to enable each student to reach their highest potential. It is important for the principal to provide students with a well-rounded education while preparing them for standardized tests. Reading scores decreased in schools by 6%. The inquiry team decided to purchase more reading materials to get the school back on track. Orlich (2004) evaluated the demands placed on schools across the country by the No Child Left Behind Act. According to Pisa (Program for International Student Assessment) comparison of reading literacy of 32 countries in 2002, American children were among the highest scores in reading, yet were also among the least engaged readers in the world. The only two countries that performed better than the United States on literacy exams were Sweden and the Netherlands. Testing is the indicator of the achievement of students for the No Child Left Behind Act. A 2003 study by the U.S. General Accounting Office concluded the testing requirements mandated by the NCLB Act will cost states a minimum of $1.9 Billion dollars, between the years of 2002 and 2008. All schools are required to meet identical standards, provide a challenging academic curriculum and administer standardized tests in the areas of Math, Reading and Science. According to the act, every child will be required to meet the adequate yearly progress by the year 2013. In order for a school to be labeled as successful, a greater number of students must meet standards every year. A school will be considered failing if their students do not meet adequate yearly progress. If a school does not improve after two years, supplemental services will be offered. Parents may have the option of transferring their child to a successful school, staff may be replaced, administrators will

have less power and outside experts may also be appointed to implement new curriculum and interventions. The pressure schools face to increase test scores has caused many schools to focus on drill and practice instructional techniques. Teacher’s focus on skill based instruction and parts of the curriculum targeted for testing. Acceptable forms of test preparation are instruction that is aligned with skills and objectives tested. It is unacceptable to allow students to practice on parallel tests, steal tests, or report scores. In recent years student growth has been measured in terms of adequate yearly progress. As of the year 2013, every school will be required to prove all of their students have the ability to successfully pass assessments in reading and math. Due to increased pressure to increase the adequate yearly progress, school administrators analyze standardized test results t customize the curriculum and provide interventions when necessary. Many school districts have integrated technology to analyze data and personalize instruction. In Colorado, The Adams Twelve Five Star Schools store and sort student data according to statistics, educational categories and background information. The data analysis has led to significant gains on state exams for this school district in Denver. The ability to use data to pinpoint problem areas and create an individualized test preparation for each students, allows teachers to address the needs of each student. The Minnesota Public School system has partnered with the Northwest Evaluation Association to improve the educational growth of students. The NWEA assists the school districts to measure the strengths and weaknesses of children and lead to improved teaching and learning. The school district also videotapes classroom instruction that displays best classroom practices. These videos are available for teachers to refer to improve their teaching style and strategies. The Minnesota Public Schools have

increased the number of schools meeting adequate yearly progress by 33%. In the Sacramento City Unified school district, has implemented the use of the California Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) system to store and analyze the test scores of schools not meeting adequate yearly progress. Interventions are organized to increase the level of success of the school. Parent workshops also are offered to discuss data and possible solution and potentially helpful changes in the curriculum. The Virginia Department of Education also launched a statewide accountability program. The VA School Technologists aimed to create an electronic highway to move data to and from teachers, administrators and students. The schools in VA are required to take SOL Exams, which focus on the standards of accreditation. In 2001, VA began administering tests online in 15 districts. Some of the school districts that participated were the Charlotte County Public School and Prince William County Public School. As of 2009, all of VA’s 1862 schools will be expected to assess students online. The data collected based on the test scores is used to improve test preparation for students in need of remediation. The (EIMS) Educational Information Management System then compares the progress of students and enables staff to analyze the data and make modifications when necessary. The goal of this program is to allow educators to organize individualized students test preparation learning plans. Rivero (2007) outlined the importance of tracking test results through the use of technology, to increase achievement. Nevada’s Clark County School District implemented the use of the Instructional Data Management System in 2003, to analyze test scores. They partnered with Educational Testing Services to create interim assessments to track the progress of each student. Teachers were able to group students

based on their skill level. The teacher is able to provide instruction based on specific needs. The program they offer “testlets” to make educators aware of the results of the remediation. The implementation of this instructional program increased the number of schools meeting adequate yearly progress from 160 to 205. In order for continued improvements to be made, children need individualized attention. Karlene McCormickLee, an associate Superintendent, said, “You can’t have a million Post-It’s up. Only by use of technology can you then report that information, store it, share it, and collaborate with people who have the expertise to deliver the instructional programs to children.” Chen, Heritage & Lee (2005) set out to use the Quality School Portfolio, as a way to collect and analyze student data. The QSP, a web based decision support tool, was developed at the University of CA, LA (UCLA). The purpose of the program is to enable educators to analyze student data and identify the needs of at risk students. In 1897, John Dewey stated, “Education must begin with an insight into the child’s capacities, interests and habits. It must be controlled at every point by reference to the same considerations… These powers, interests and habits must be continually interpreted, and we must know what they mean.” He also believed all students should be judged by the same standard. In 2001, the No Child Left Behind Act mandated annual testing to close the achievement gap and to ensure the academic success of every child. Although Dewey’s theory is over one hundred years old, educators today continue to follow similar guidelines. The information educators collect regarding their students, allows the development of a plan to reach all students and evaluate each child according to the state mandated standards. Today, we have a great deal of knowledge and resources available to us to monitor the capabilities of each child, to enable them to meet the standards and reach their highest

potential. The Quality School Portfolio is one of the many tools available to educators to meet the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act. Through this program educators monitor student performance, examine achievements and background data and reflect on their teaching practices. Thirty three educators were interviewed by phone after they used the program for several months. Positive changes were observed in the benefits of evaluating student data. The data collected enabled educators to identify needs and focus instruction. Brown (2007) considered the use of technology to pinpoint problem academic areas. When assessing her classes in a mini test, Mary Rooney, an eighth grade Language Arts teacher in Philadelphia, noticed many of her students had a great deal of difficulty answering questions that had to do with roots of words. This is a very powerful bit of information. She was able to pinpoint this specific need for target instruction using the ISN from Schoolnet. This program allows her to analyze the test scores and adjust the curriculum based around problem areas. A mini test is given every six weeks to determine whether or not the students benefited from the targeted instruction. This program enables the teacher to be accountable to her students. It determines the specific areas in which each student needs interventions. According to the data analysis, the teacher prepares a plan of action. They adjust the curriculum to the needs of the children. At risk students were placed in small groups based on their individualized instruction plans. Moore (2003) explored the impact of technology on the newly reformed curriculum. Technology can support higher order thinking skills in authentic complex tasks, within collaborative learning context. Technology enables students to acquire a

deeper understanding of critical thinking skills. The integration of technology provides students with valuable assessment tools and support resources. It helps teachers to establish learning objectives and modify the curriculum. It is important for technology to impact the classroom as it has the outside world. Technology allows the learner the opportunity to prove their ability through alternative methods. When considering the implementation of the internet in the classroom, Malloy and Gambrell (2006) hoped to explore its effect on reading comprehension and engagement of at risk middle school students. In our technologically advanced society, comprehending online text is an important skill for our middle school students as they grow into literate adults. Surfing the internet, often a leisure activity for teens, provides struggling readers the familiarity they need to become engaged and focused. Their level of comfort enhances their ability to comprehend the text they read. Technological tools such as the internet and email enable teachers to enhance instruction and motivate their pupils. Molebash & Fisher (2003) reported on the use of the internet and Personal Digital Assistants in the classroom. The Technology Literacy Challenge Fund requires 21st century students to possess technological literacy. Today’s generation is expected to understand a variety of forms of literacy, which reach beyond the textbook. They are expected to comprehend electronic text as well as hard copy. Educators today have the opportunity to use technology to increase literacy and prepare children to succeed in an age of technology. Teachers across the country have integrated the internet as well as personal digital assistants to teach their students to become literate citizens. The internet is a powerful tool teachers can use to improve instruction. The internet allows educators

to share ideas and perspectives across the world. A personal digital assistant was used by Ms. Taylor, a first grade teacher to administer running records. Running records are a powerful tool which provides teachers with information on students understanding of text. The software program mClass Reading allowed her to analyze the data she collected and improve instruction. Students might also use personal digital assistants to read a variety of text through the use of e-books. Advances in technology have allowed teachers to provide students the opportunity to increase their literacy potential. Tonn, J. & Richard, A. reported on the connection between the amount of money spent on technology and the adequate yearly progress of the students. A survey by the Denver Based Quality Education Data Corporation found schools that spend more money on technology are more likely to meet adequate yearly progress requirements. This survey questioned 7,400 school systems. Their findings showed, during the 2004-2005 school year, schools that met No Child Left Behind requirements spent $174 per student on technology. On the other hand, at least one school that did not meet adequate yearly progress only spent $120 per student. This study suggests the amount of technology provided to students affects their ability to excel. The Teachers Talk Tech Survey examines the effects of the use of technology in the classroom. One thousand two hundred and twelve teacherteachers nationwide participated in the survey. Many educators agree the use of technology would absolutely have a positive effect on test scores. Unfortunately, teacher lack the proper equipment and training to successfully integrate technology into their curriculum. However, many school districts have asked their staff to incorporate technology into their test preparation programs. In order for students to reach their highest potential through the use of

technology, proper training and resources must be made available. Sixty two percent of teachers surveyed agreed that computer technology aids student performance. There are wide varieties of software programs available that offer skill based instruction, review activities and test preparation resources. These resources are useful to engage students and provide individualized interventions for at risk students. They also may be useful as enrichment activities for students in need of improvement to do better than average. Hamm (2005) assessed the effectiveness of computerized testing in the Richland School District of Columbia, South Carolina. Jennifer Gouvin, Director of Assessment and Accountability for the school district, says, “Before we used computerized tests, we had very little useful information we could give teachers from our state tests. Now we have a system that provides easily accessible electronic reports with rich information for making actual realistic instructional decisions.” (p. 8) When students are assessed by computerized testing; the level of difficulty is adjusted based on their individualized progress. All of the background information and test score data for each student is available to the teacher online. Tests and results are quickly delivered and accurately scored by way of the web. It is also possible for writing to be submitted and also graded. Feedback is provided to students and teachers regarding results and progress. Computerized instructional testing is an interesting method of individualizing assessment and improving student achievement. Henning (2002 )2002) evaluated the effect of practice-based instruction of standardized test scores. A group of 24 teacher leaders analyzed the test scores of their students to examine trends in the needs of low achieving students, pinpoint necessary target skills areas and compare test scores by gender and ethnic backgrounds. Seventeen

elementary schools and seven middle schools participated in the study. Veteran teachers were selected by their principal to analyze a particular subject area and student subgroup of the results under IOWA Test Ofof Basic Skill. Trunks (2001) sought to determine the effect of the Test Item Construction Model (TCIM) on student test scores. This alternative instructional method allows students the opportunity to analyze test item stems and create their own questions. The researchers hypothesized the students involved in the study would score higher on the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills and also feel a lower level of anxiety. The students selected for the study were seventh and eighth grade students in North Central Texas. The study mainly focused on eighth grade students due to a great deal of pressure to increase their test scores. Twelve students out of twenty-five, in five eighth grade classes were selected to participate in twelve sessions. The program included cooperative learning, inquiry and mastery learning models of instruction. The TCIM Program allows students to gain a greater understanding of test expectations of analyzing and constructing test items. This program enables students to have a central perspective and provides the tools they need to gain confidence when taking exams. Their anxiety levels are measured by the results of the test anxiety inventory. As a result of this study, students grew in their understanding of the test item stems. However, the TCIM Program did not have an effect on student test scores. The Enhancing Education ThroughTthrough Technology Act of 2001, established expectations for schools to integrate technology to improve student achievement. Maninger’s ideas were to use supportive devices to improve the test scores of ninth grade, at risk students. The goal was to observe the difference in test scores and behavior of

students exposed to a technology rich environment. A total of 185 ninth grade students were participants in the program over a two-year period. The goal of the teacher was to increase student potential on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills Exam (TAKS). The students and teacher used 32 laptops, desktop computers, projector, camcorder, the Adobe Program, DED-RW, Tripod and modems. An essay organizing software program was installed on each of the laptops. Students were expected to use their technology for word processing, spreadsheets, web page production and museum tours. The teacher used a laptop and projector to post objectives and mini lessons. Hand held remote devices where also available for each student to take quizzes throw the use of a soft ware program. The focus of the program was to prepare students for state exams by improving there test taking and comprehension skills. The integration of technology increased, student motivation, decreasedand decreased behavior problems improved management of assessments, increased student motivation and test scores. The program had a positive effect on the engagement and progress of at risk students. Over the twoyear trail the ninth grade students achieved a 6% increase on test scores. Little (2006) explains and excesses the impact of technology as an intervention for at risk eighth grade students. The participants where a group of 24 eighth grade students. They had been held over the year before. For a period of 27 weeks they were isolated from their peers. The goal was to create a technology rich environment to increase the potential of the eleven boys and thirteen girls. Students were expected to use hypermedia, online research, PowerPoint and Word Processing Software. The researchers believed the students that participated in the program would perform better on state exams, that those who received traditional instruction. The students repeated the

same curriculum from the prior year; however, technology was added to the instruction. The program provides students with an interactive learning environment, opportunity to control their own learning and the ability to make cross-references. The disadvantages of the research study were confusion, problems with comprehension access difficulty and inefficient learning strategies. Another concern is the fact that one program or computer assisted software might not be effective for all of the students. After the 27-week period, the eighth grade students took the Criterion Referenced Competency Test (CRCT) that assesses reading and writing skills. The students made significant gains on the state exam. The students reading scores increased by 28 points. On the writing portion of the exam, there was a 14-point increase. Technology had a positive impact on the eighth grade students. O'Byrne (2006) considered the use of an integrated learning system on low achieving students test scores. The Merit Literacy Software is used in West Virginia to meet the NCLB criteria for evidence-based interventions. One hundred and seventy two sixth, seventh and eighth grade students participated in the study. The goal was to improve student achievement on the WESTEST. They participated in ninety minutes per week of intervention. The software provides students with tutorials based on topics such as paraphrasing, inferencing, rehearsal and repetition. This form of instructional support requires higher-level thinking and metacognitive strategies rather than the drill and practice method. Student engagement and cognition are improved through the scaffold of instructional support. The voice activation, touch screens and still graphics increase student interest. The Merit Software Program had a great impact on low achieving

students. They scored and average of 4.38 points higher on the reading and language arts exam. Martindale (2005) analyzed the effect of a computer based online instruction program on student test scores on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT). The concern arose from the state mandated requirement for all schools to be rated against one another by their performance grade, on a scale of A through F. The performance grade also includes other factors such as graduation rate, dropout rate, attendance and school discipline data. Schools that receive an improvement are awarded greater freedom of authority. The software utilized by the program is the FCAT Explorer, created by Infinity Software. The FL Board of Education distributed this program to the Florida public schools. This test preparation software provides practice activities based on the Sunshine State Standards. It provides various formats of questions to prepare students for the exam. It also allows school staff to communicate regarding data. The Skills Tutor Program provides skills based instruction, through a web based program. This program provides individualized tutorials for students in grades six through twelve, based on their strengths and weaknesses. The John Howard Middle School in Chicago, Illinois implemented this program to improve the adequate yearly progress of their fifth through eighth grade students. Pupils prepare for the exam by focusing on the skills identified in their plan. The role of the teacher is to assist the students as they complete tutorials and also to adapt the curriculum based on observations of areas of weaknesses. Seventy percent of students who participated in the web based instructional program study, achieved at least an eight month increase in their adequate yearly progress.

Palombella & Johnson explore the design and use of hypermedia flash cards on student test scores. Vocabulary flash cards are effective in improving both reading speed and comprehension. (Ian & Nicholson, 1997) Hyper media flashcards or h-cards are easily created using JavaScript or Mozilla. Each flash card appears on its own webpage and can include images, charts and figures. The cards can be accessed by all students. They might be utilized individually or as part of a classroom learning experience. The effectiveness of H-Cards was researched in 2003 and 2004 with 115 freshmen. The biology students were expected to take three laboratory examinations. For one of the three tests they were given h-cards as a test preparation tool. The study proved h-cards are an effective study device. Average scores were higher when h-cards were available to the group. When surveyed the students requested the use of additional hypermedia flash cards. Ullman (2005) reported on a collaborative project between Ohio, California, Kansas and New Mexico to increase middle school reading and math scores. This fifteen million dollar program, known as the Middle School through Technology Rich Interventions, will be implemented over a five year time period. The goal is to develop technology rich methods of learning that include games, activities and resources for iPods, PDA’s and video cameras. The MATRIX Program’s aim is to assist schools to meet the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act. Three universities and two non profit organizations will partner to develop programs that involve the use of technology. The Advanced Learning Technologies in Education Consortia, at the University of Kansas, hopes to connect vocabulary skills to a mobile device, to help students to connect words in a meaningful way. Use of tools such as the iPod will motivate students to learn.

The integration of technology to improve test scores is a powerful concept. Providing interesting tools to motivate and engage students may be a powerful solution for low achieving schools, The United States Department of Education recently conducted a yearlong study that tested the effectiveness of Reading and Mathematics software programs. Data was collected for 9,424 students. Miners (2007) summarized the results of the impact technology had on the performance of students in three school districts. Districts with low student achievement and high poverty were favored in the selection process. Schools and teachers were chosen based on their lack of exposure to sixteen software programs. Trotter (2007) also analyzed the results of this software research study. Some of the software products tests were PLATO Learning Inc., Carnegie Learning, Houghton Mifflin Co., Scholastic Inc., iLearn, Leapfrog Schoolhouse and Headsprout Inc. Software products were chosen to meet the needs of four groups of students: first grade reading, fourth grade reading comprehension, sixth grade pre algebra and ninth grade algebra. Students were randomly chosen to participate in the treatment or control group. Professional development and assistance was provided for the teachers. The result of this research study was the implementation of technology did not result in a great difference of student achievement. The study also suggested test scores were higher in smaller classes. The study will continue in order to observe any changes as teachers and students gain experience using the programs. Advocates of technology in education are encouraging the government to continue to provide funds in support of technological programs. Keller (2005) shared an attempt by the Michigan Department of Education to increase the use of technology in their middle schools. The state invested 26.3 million

dollars to provide wireless laptops to about 20,000 middle school students. A great deal of money was also invested in the teachers. Professional development was provided to teach how to use the technology, monitor progress and improve student learning. Continuous observation of the program will determine whether or not the technology provided increases the potential of children. Shaw, Maggett & Salyer (2004) explored the benefits of using the Kidspiration Software program in conjunction with inquiry- centered activities. The program enables students to create visual diagrams and outlines to organize information and share ideas. The Kidspiration program is geared toward early childhood students. The Inspiration Program is the version used with older students. In this particular study the program was incorporated into a fifth grade science lesson. Science for All Children stated, Children learn best when they can link new information to something they already know. Therefore, it is often most effective to introduce a new concept by providing children with inquiry-centered experiences.” Science for All Children 1997, p. 23) The integration of the Kidspiration program allowed the students to easily make revisions to their graphic organizers. They were also enthusiastic about the opportunity to included symbols in their representations. The program also includes audio features which read the information back to the students after it had been typed. The Kidspiration software combines enhanced learning opportunities for both audio and visual learners. The Kidspiration and Inspiration Programs allow students to successfully complete inquiry based activities organize their findings and develop their ideas through the use of graphic organizers.

Baule (2004) encourages library media specialists to work to assist students to excel on standardized tests. The school library should be a place students are welcome to practice the skills they need to reach their highest potential. There are several ways the library media specialist can help to improve test scores. First, materials should be introduced to the library media collection. Study guides and previous versions of tests are available for schools to purchase. The library media specialist should also share test preparation strategies with students and teachers. The library should also provide test preparation sites to students before or after school sessions. Electronic test preparation sites such as Learning Express offer ACT and SAT practice. Underperforming schools may also require assistance with grant writing as funds are reduced due to achievement. Data analysis is also an area in which our attention is neede3d. In order to help students achieve we must analyze their strengths and weaknesses in order to individualize the curriculum. Many principals have become overwhelmed by the impact of the No Child Left Behind Act has had on the school. It is important we as educators offer assistance in any way possible Before completing my research, I did not realize the impact the No Child Left Behind Act has had on schools across the country. I was aware of the effect it had on my school in Staten Island, NY. I was shocked to learn every school in the country has been placed under the microscope of standardized testing. The article by Orlich (2004) allowed me to realize the impact these new policies have had on schools across the country. I never realized how important the results of standardized tests are. Schools have invested a huge amount of money in preparing students to meet the requirements of the curriculum. Schools that do not meet the requirements, face severe consequences.

The article by Chen, Heritage & Lee (2005) also influenced my thoughts about student performance. They compared the theory of John Dewey to today’s thoughts on education. The great deal of resources we have today, have a huge impact on student achievement. Resources such as the Quality School Portfolio are available to educators to allow students to reach their highest potential through individualized skills based instruction. By researching methods schools use to analyze student data, I was able to better understand the changes that have taken place in my school over the past few years. One test preparation program I found to be outstanding was described in the article by Rivero. (2007) Students were prepared in Nevada State by integrating technology to analyze data and provide instruction. The individualized instruction has had a positive effect of the adequate yearly progress of students. Test preparation programs such as the program used in Nevada, have motivated me to integrate technology into my curriculum to prepare my students for the seventh grade ELA Standardized Examination. I learned a great deal of helpful strategies from my literature review to improve my teaching style. The resources I analyzed allowed me to understand the importance o providing skills based instruction based on the strengths and weaknesses of each student. My research helped me to understand the requirements of the No Child Left Behind and Adequate Yearly Progress guidelines. I now understand the reason so many changes have taken placed in my school. The pressure placed on schools by curriculum reform has had an impact on the focus of my instruction. I feel confident as I prepare my students for the seventh grade ELA exam because I have learned about several test preparation programs already being used across the country. I also feel very hopeful about the improvement of the adequate yearly progress of my students because I have the support of my Principal.

My school has purchased the Skills Tutor program, which was successfully used in Chicago, Illinois to increase the adequate yearly progress of middle school students. I am encouraged by the success others have had with the Skills Tutor program. I also included my research on the Kidspiration and Inspiration programs by Shaw, Maggett & Salyer. (2004) in my literature review. I was motivated by the success of the use of these programs on the ability of students to complete inquiry based activities. I feel confident the integration of the Inspiration program into my test preparation curriculum will have a positive effect on the critical analysis skills and motivation of my seventh grade students. IV.Data Collection Plan: A. B. C. D. E. F. G. H. I. J. K. L. M. Data Matrix: Research Question Data Source # 1 How can I use the Inspiration Software Program to improve the critical analysis skills of my seventh grade students? How can I improve the standardized test scores of my students on the grade seven ELA Exam, by providing individualized skills Test Scores

Data Source # 2 Classroom Observation

Data Source # 3 Personal Journal

Test Scores

Classroom Observations

Skills Tutor Program Progress Reports

based instruction, through the Skills Tutor Program? What effect will the Inspiration and Skills Tutor Programs have on the motivation of students to prepare for standardized exams?

Student Journals and Surveys

Conference/Interview Notes

Personal Journal

N. Timeline: October:  Speak to Ms. Buckheit about my research plan  Purchase the Skills Tutor program  Discuss use of projector with Assistant Principal  Begin personal journal  Administer Pretest\Surveys  Hold a pre conference with each student regarding their test score differential November:  Obtain equipment: Skills Tutor Program, Projector, Inspiration Program, Laptops, Handheld tape recorder, Survey Questions  Learn how to use the projector  Write survey questions  Prepare PowerPoint Presentation  Analyze pretest results  Interview Students\Collect quotations  Collect survey data  Organize student journals  Class Observations  Monitor progress reports December:  Prepare Inquiry team students for the ELA Exam  Use technology to prepare students for the ELA Exam. I will use the Skills Tutor and Inspiration Programs.  4 weeks of data collection (3 times per week)  Collect quotes from students  Personal journals and student journals  Analyze progress reports

January:  Utilize the Skills Tutor and Inspiration Programs to improve students critical thinking skills  2 weeks of data collection (3 times per week)  Classroom observations February:  Administer post test  Conduct closing interviews  Student quotations March:  Organize and analyze data April:  End of data collection (By 4/18/07) May:    

Complete PowerPoint Write up results Analyze data Present findings V.s

References: Baule, S. (2004). What Can We Do To Help? NCLB from the Administrative Perspective. Library Media Connection. 26-27. Brinson, K.H., Faulconer, J.L., Hicks, G.E., Smith, J.R., Stallkings C.A & Wells V.C. More Bang for the Buck: Rethinking Priorities in a High Stakes Accountability Environment. The University Council for Educational Administration. 20-28 Brown, J. (2007). On Target. T.H.E. Journal, 34(1), 18-24.

Chen, E., Heritage, M. & Lee, J. (2005). Identifying and Monitoring Students Learning Needs With Technology. Journal of Education for Students Placed At-Risk. 10(3). 309332. Department of Education of the City of New York, (2007). Michael J. Petrides Public School Website. Retrieved November 17, 2007, from Department of Education of the City of New York, (@007). Michael J. Petrides 20062007 Progress Report. Retrieved November 17, 2007, from Gamble-Risley, M. (2006). Surviving Accountability: As Easy as AYP. T.H.E. Journal, 33(13),38. Hamm, D. (2005). Computerized Testing at Its Best. Media & Methods. 8. Henning, J.E. (2002). Teacher Leaders at Work: Analyzing Standardized Achievement Data to Improve Instruction. Education, 126(4), 729-737 Keller, B. (2005). State of the States: Michigan. Education Week, 24(35), 65-65. Little, E.B. (2006). Technology Integration as an Intervention Strategy for At-Risk Eighth Graders. Meridian Middle School Computer Technologies Journal, 2(9). Malloy, J. & Gambrell, L.B. (2006. Approaching the Unavoidable: Literacy Instruction and the Internet. Issues and Trends in Literacy, 59(5), 482-484.

Maringer, R.M. (2002). Successful Technology Integration: Student Test Scores Improved in an English Literature Course Through the Use if Supportive Devices. Tech Trends, 50(5), 37-45.

Martindale, T., Pearson, C., Curda, L.K., & Pilcher, J. (2005). Effects of an Online Instructional Application on Reading and Mathematics Standardized Test Scores. Miners, Z. (2007) Technology Update: USDE Study of Educational Technology Effectiveness. District Administration. 20.

Molebash, P. & Fisher, D. (2003). Teaching and Learning Literacy with Technology. Reading Improvement. 40(2). 63-70. Moore, W. (2003). Facts and Assumptions of Assessment: Technology, the Missing Link. T.H.E. Journal. 30(6). 20-26. Nugent, Lan. (2006). When Technology Met Accountability. T.H.E. Journal 33(12), 4144. O’Byrne B., Securro, S., Jones, J., & Cadle, C. (2006). Making the Cut: The Impact of an Integrated Learning System on Low Achieving Middle School Students. Journal Of Computer Assisted Learning, (22), 218-228. Online Test Prep Tutoring. (2000). T.H.E. Journal. Orlich D.C. (2004). No Child Left Behind: An Illogical Accountability Model. The Clearing House. 78(1), 6-11. Palombella, A.L. & Johnson, D. (2005) The Design, Use and Evaluation of Hypermedia Flash Cards as a Teaching Tool. Tech Trends. 49(2). 46-54. Rather, C. (2004). Evaluating Technologies Role in the Classroom. 32(3), 43-49. Journal of Research on Technology In Education, 37(4), 349-360. Rivero, V. (2007). Assessments: A Brave New World. American School Board Journal. 40-41. Science for All Children. (1997). Washington, D.C: National Academy Press. 23. Shaw, E.L., Baggett, P.V., & Salyer, B. (2004). Kidspiration for Inquiry-Centered Science Activities. 41(1). 3-8. Tan, A., & Nicholson, T. (1997). Flashcards Revisited: Training Poor Readers to Read Words Faster Improves Their Comprehension of Text. Journal of Educational Psychology. 89, 276-288. Tunks, Jeanne. (2001). The Effect of Training in Test Item Writing on Test Performance For Junior High School Students. Educational Studies, 27(2), 129-142.

Tunks, Jeanne. (2001). The Effect of Training in Test Item Writing on Test Performance For Junior High School Students. Educational Studies, 27(2), 129-14Tonn, J. & Richard, A. (2005). Technology Spending Correlated with AYP. Education Week, 25(5), 9-9. Trotter, A. (2007). Major Study of Software Stirs Debate. (Cover Story). Education Week, 26(32), 1-18. Ullman, E. (2005). Four States Collaborate to Improve Middle School Test Scores. District Administration. 16. VI. Appendix

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