Saturday, November 20, 2010

What Works in Madison Co. Schools?

This from Madison County Schools Superitntendent Tommy Floyd in the Richmond Register:
Critics continue to write about shortfalls and missed opportunities. Like many of you, we have read and viewed much of this coverage, and, because so many examples are given, we are forced to again ask ourselves the question: How are we doing — really?

For Madison County Schools this has become a daily question. Our teachers are asking it at the end of today’s lessons. Before they continue with the plans they have for tomorrow, they first must know how students mastered today’s learning. As simple as this seems, the next step is very difficult. We must alter our instruction each day depending on how well learning took place today...

Being a great school district...means providing excellent instructional and academic services for students. Some of the ways Madison County Schools accomplishes that goal include:

• Tracking student progress to make instructional decisions. Through the use of instructional rounds, monthly principal cadre meetings, principal walk-throughs, professional learning communities and school leadership teams, the district is able to advance student proficiency by being better informed about where students are in the learning process on an individual and regular basis.

• Accountability for building principals and staff in the ongoing monitoring of student progress to make instructional decisions. With the addition of extra data dissagragation (sic) days, assessment walls, school snapshots MAP, AIMsWeb and APEX Learning, the district is continually improving student success.

• Changes in key personnel, such as the addition of Director of Professional Development, Instructional Supervisor and District Assessment Coordinator, the district is becoming more efficient in monitoring student progress and allowing the data to drive learning. Those results are being utilized for planning.

• Focus on Assessment for Learning and the training necessary for success. The district is implementing “I Can” statements for all content areas district wide, formative assessments to determine student needs and the use of MAP data to modify lessons and to provide interventions for struggling students. All these things and the many others used in the district help teachers and administrators stay focused on learning results.

• Deconstruction of new standards in reading and math to plan instruction. Standards have been deconstructed by each school into a progression of “I Can” statements so that teachers know exactly what students need to know and what they need to be able to do to master each standard. The eventual plan is to have quality assessments that match the targets and then build a variety of instructional strategies to teach the standards.

• Additional data disaggregation day for teachers to plan interventions. Madison County Schools added an additional data disaggregation day on Jan. 3, 2011, as a “teacher only” day to provide time for teachers to disaggregate the MAP data from the December assessment and decide upon interventions.

• Implementing Fountas and Pinnell reading assessment for kindergarten and first grade. Students in kindergarten and first grade take the Fountas and Pinnell Reading assessment, as well as the Student Numeracy Assessment Progressions assessment to provide teachers with baseline data to help determine students’ strengths, areas of growth and possible interventions.

• Use of computer based APEX Learning to assist secondary students in credit recovery, interventions and extensions for students. APEX Learning software is curriculum-based computer software that allows student to work at their own pace to recover credits in classes they have previously failed and to provide interventions and extensions for students.

• Instructional Rounds in all schools in the 2010-2011 school year. Instructional Rounds is where district administrators do a series of observations in classrooms looking specifically for a “Problem of Practice” identified by the school principal and leadership team. The administrators provide feedback and next steps on how the school may progress. This is the second year of instructional rounds in Madison County Schools. The first year of rounds focused on the secondary schools.

• Read 180/System 44 Labs in all schools to assist struggling readers. Title 1 ARRA funds were able to provide the means to purchase READ 180 / System 44 labs for all district elementary schools to provide interventions for struggling readers. READ 180 progresses through three distinct rotations that include teacher instruction, computer-based instruction and independent reading time aimed at assisting students in their reading ability.

• Planning of middle college located on EKU campus. A draft copy of a Memorandum of Agreement has been developed to progress with the implementation of a Middle College at Eastern Kentucky University. The district is currently working through the appropriate channels at EKU and the Kentucky Department of Education to provide an opportunity for students to enroll in the fall of 2011. Middle College focuses on providing students with the ability to graduate high school with as many as 18 college credit hours.

• Instructional technology. Dell Training provided to Library Media Specialists and lead teachers on Oct. 25 is just the latest in a long series of efforts by Madison County Schools to provide teachers and students with the latest in instructional technology. All Madison County Schools classrooms are equipped with Intelligent Classroom technology and the district has a technology integration specialist that offers teachers weekly supplements to improve their use and understanding of the technology available to them for instruction.

• Early Childhood Education is becoming a focus. In Madison County, kindergarten readiness and the expansion of early learning opportunities include the Madison County Early Childhood Alliance and the Literacy Education and Awareness Program. These programs will help ensure that young children have every opportunity to be ready for their first day of kindergarten.

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