Why K-12 English Language Arts Program Changes?
Investment in early childhood and kindergarten programs alone will not be sufficient. In reviewing the SAGE, DIBELS, Success Maker, Reading Mastery, and Galileo Data, we recognized a clear need to improve our English Language Arts programs. While our district is high performing, the level of growth needed to improve is significant. In the last four years, our scores have remained stagnant. We began researching, collaborating, and developing strategies that will lead to improvement. The goal is for the most struggling students to work with the most experienced and effective teachers in an environment that supports their growth.
Implementation of the Utah Core for ELA and a review of our basal reading program supported a move to the use of standards-based curriculum maps. First through 10th grade PCSD Teachers and Instructional Coaches worked collaboratively during the summer of 2015 to create English Language Arts Curriculum Maps and aligned lesson plans. These interdisciplinary maps utilize Understanding by Design tenets, and provide resources, essential questions, and skill development across all ELA standards for students to master at each grade level.
Example curriculum map: ELA Unit Overview
In addition, PCSD Instructional Coaches began sharing the student Galileo and SAGE data, working with teachers inside classrooms, and modeling high yield instructional practices, better known as job-embedded professional development, during the 2015-16 school year.
A clear Tier 1, 2, 3 system of instruction was modeled and incorporated by no longer using a method of pulling students from grade level content, but rather keeping students in the classroom and developing differentiated lessons for all students. Small group instruction for all students is a focus as we transition to this model.
It is important that student intervention is targeted and taught by our most experienced teachers in a small group setting so that students have the opportunity to read, write, speak and listen with peers. The reading specialists also began working with classroom teachers on effective reading methods using the three tier system.
Finally, when reviewing the statistically poor performance of the Hispanic student subgroup, the English Language Learner plan was reviewed and revised. The plan revisions focused on the importance of all day kindergarten, instructional practices that require students to speak, listen, read, and write using the WIDA Standards, and increasing Hispanic students’ exposure to grade level standards. The English Language Learner plan emphasizes how important it is for Hispanic students to fully participate in Tier 1 instruction.
What do we do with our Tier 3 identified struggling readers?
The interventionist position to be implemented SY 16/17 is a new position. It is designed to help meet the needs of our students most at need for intensive reading or language intervention. Funding for these positions will be provided through the current maintenance and operations (M&O) budget; therefore, no new monies are needed.
Reading and ESL Specialists
- We are reallocating resources to increase student learning.
- We are ensuring that our most effective certified staff members are working with the most intensive need students.
- We will use district data to identify students needing intervention.
- Students must have exposure and be actively engaged in grade level instruction and not be pulled out of the Tier 1 grade level instruction. Students must be exposed to grade level instruction in order to continue growth in learning.
- A differentiated model of small group instruction for Tier 2 will be used in the classroom by the classroom teacher (no longer using a pull out aide model with students missing important grade level exposure). This is consistent with the Utah Teaching Standards for differentiation and working with diverse learners.
- Job embedded professional development from instructional coaches will continue to increase teacher capacity
- District wide professional development will continue to be offered through blended learning, early release times, and PLC’s
Reading and ESL Aides
- We are making shifts in the aides positions
- They will be full time aides with insurance benefits in all K classrooms
- There will be written notification that other aide positions will be eliminated
- We will develop a job description for the kindergarten aide
- All aides may apply for the new kindergarten aide positions
- The process will include an application and interview with a team made up of the kindergarten teacher, principal, and early childhood specialist.