Retrieving Specific Data Could Help Students Reach Better State Proficiency
MONTROSE – Montrose school-teachers got a head start in maximizing their students' time and learning thanks to performance assessments identifying each student’s needs and achievement levels handed out before the school year began.
So far, it’s helping teachers drive instruction where its needed most.
Throughout the Montrose County School District RE-1J, teachers received data packets with performance assessments of each student, as well as their comparative achievement results in critical areas of math, reading, writing, and science from other district elementary schools.
Kathy Hilding, a 19-year veteran of Pomona Elementary School, said the packets she received for her second grade math students are helping her prepare them better for state testing, and for achieving significant growth and learning goals throughout the school year. From last year’s results, Hilding said, she learned that students were underperforming in constructive written responses to state test questions.
"If this is what the requirement is for testing, then this is what we should be focusing on," Hilding said of the assessment. "We looked at the data, and now we came up with better routines.”
Hilding said the data packets will help teachers spot learning trends in the classroom.
Over the summer months, students can lose some information learned in the previous year, making remedial learning part of the new school year's curriculum. Through the data now being collected, Hilding said she can tell which students lost what information, and which students kept up, over the summer. The new tool helps her spot the kids who need help to catch up.
"If they have dropped, how much have they dropped, and how can you get them back?” Hilding said.
Of the data packets, she said, "We see them as a springboard for what we need to focus on for groups of kids.”
Both the Waterford and DRA-2 Spring results provided to Hilding are district computer reports compiled from programs used to track student performance.
Pomona Principal Joe Simo said teachers at the school have been "hungry for data," and that the new resource allows them to “drive instruction” more effectively, opening good channels of dialogue.
"For the majority, I have received a lot of positive feedback about the data packets," Simo said.
Simo credits District Superintendent Mark MacHale for installing the system a few years ago. Asking the question, "How do we know what are our students are doing and what they need?" Hale start looking for solutions that would better integrate technology with the existing curriculum.
"I think ultimately our goal is for our students to be learning to the highest caliber and their highest ability," Simo said.
Laurie Pascoe, the district's director of curriculum and instruction, said getting the data in the hands of teachers was, for the district, a “top priority,” and its result will be more teacher time to prepare for classroom instruction.
MacHale wanted the data in teachers’ hands when they got back to work, “And we got it in their hands when they got back to work,” Pascoe said.
Elementary students make up nearly half of the district's student population.
District officials said improving K-5 early education will make the Montrose district stronger. The yearly data packets will be a permanent fixture, Pascoe said, and teacher surveys will be sent out Sept. 20 for feedback.
Montrose students have been making gains in each curriculum area, according to state Transitional Colorado Assessment Program test results released last month. The district still remains under state averages in math and science, but Pascoe said he is "seeing upward trends with improvements."