At the February staff meeting we began to examine the
results from the 2001 MSPAP administered to our third and fifth grade students
last May. Grade level teams were
assigned a number of graphs to examine and discuss using the attached
worksheets. The teams brought back
their findings to the entire staff at the March staff meeting. Parents examined and discussed the same data
during the PTA Board meeting in March.
Our area of need continues to be reading with only 31% of
our 5th grade students and 38. 8% of our third grade students scoring
satisfactory. The only area lower in
grade 3 and 5 was social studies, which is not a priority area for our
district. Writing is also an area of need in 5th grade with only
32. 9 % of students scoring satisfactory in writing. In grade 5 over 39% of the students scored satisfactory in
language usage, math and science and in grade 3 over 40% of the students scored
satisfactory in writing, language usage, mathematics and science.
When we examined progress in reading across time, 5th
grade scores have remained essentially flat over the last nine years with the
exception of 1999 when scores showed progress beyond chance when compared to
1997 and 1998. Third grade scores have
also remained flat except for a decline beyond chance from 1998 to 1999.
When we examined disaggregated data on reading, we found the
outperformed boys in grade 3 by a little more than 1%
outperformed girls in grade 5 by 10. 9%
- In grades 3 and 5 Hispanic and
African American students lagged behind White and Asian students. In grade 3, 53. 8% of Asian students, 47. 1%
White, 37. 1% African American, and 25% Hispanic students scored satisfactory on
reading. In grade 5, 69. 2% of White
students, 44. 4% Asian, 25% Hispanic, and 14. 3% African American students scored
satisfactory on reading.
- Students participating in the Free
and Reduced Meals Program performed at a lower level than students not
participating in FARMS. On 19% or FARMS
5th graders scored satisfactory as compared to 48. 3% of non-Farms 5th
graders. In grade 3, 30% of FARMS
students and 46. 7% of non-FARMS students scored satisfactory.
- Fifth graders in special education
outperformed regular education students by 2. 7% whereas third graders in
regular education outperformed special education students by 36. 7%. There were only 9 fifth grade special
education students tested and 13 third grade special education students.
When we examined the outcome level data in reading, we did
not find a substantial difference in performance on the three outcome
areas. Less than 50% of the students
scored satisfactory on any of the three outcomes in both 3rd and 5th
When I examined how our school performed in relation to
schools with similar poverty, I found that 13% of similar schools outperformed
us in reading in grade 3 and 40% of similar schools outperformed us in grade
5. Three schools outperformed us by 20%
points in both 3rd and 5th grades. Flintstone Elementary in Allegany County and
Glenmar and Dundalk Elementaries in Baltimore County outperformed us by over 20
percentage points in grade 5. George's
Creek Elementary in Allegany County, Gladys N. Spellman Elementary in Prince
George's County, and Salem Avenue Elementary in Washington County outperformed
us by over 20 percentage points in grade 3.
To address the question of why our data is low performing in
reading, we engaged staff in the following problem clarification activities:
We asked grade level teams to discuss where they thought
their team was in relationship to five key processes:
- Understanding the target (what is assessed and how it is scored)
- Teaching the indicators
- Assessing the indicators
- Monitoring student progress
- Intervening with students not succeeding
Teams were given the attached fishbone and additional
questions to focus their discussion.
They were asked to bring back to the whole staff their findings and the
evidence they had to support their findings.
On an ongoing basis, our teams have been examining sample
student work, learning to use scoring tools, and analyzing classroom data on
selected indicators. Teams have reached
a number of decisions based on that data as well.
Our leadership team participated in two classroom walk
through activities to examine the extent to which student work in classrooms
was aligned with the reading indicators.
Parents were involved in the problem clarification process
at the May board meeting when data was presented and disparities were a focus
In the grade level team examination of the five key
processes, all six teams identified all five processes as areas they needed to
work. No team felt they had 100% of
their teachers fully understanding or implementing the processes. Two of the teams felt they had 75% of their
teachers understanding the target.
However, findings from the classroom walk throughs and the team
discussion of student work indicated their was still much confusion on the
target and in particular how student work is assessed in reading using the
MSPAP scoring tool.
Though all teams are currently using a school developed
monitoring tool, they all agreed they needed to much better understand how to
write good formative assessments and how to analyze the student response to
make instructional decisions. No team
felt they could honestly answer the question, "Where are each of my
students in relation to each of the reading indicators and what evidence do I
have of that?"
Classroom walk throughs indicated that half of the student
work on display did not have a clear relationship to any indicator, and that
student work identified as exemplary appeared to be exemplary in its neatness
or artwork rather than exemplary based on demonstrated proficiency on an
Ongoing team discussions have resulted in team awareness
that they were not all on the same page when it came to assessing student
responses, that they did not all understand how to score with a scoring tool,
and that they were not sure what to do with the data that they had
Consequently, the consensus of staff was that two major
problems for us were 1) ensuring that staff understood how reading was assessed
and what a satisfactory answer looked like and 2) monitoring individual student
progress so that we could identify where each of our students were and how we
could use that information to increase their achievement.
Parents concluded that they did not understand the target
well enough to determine where their children were in relation to the
indicators. In conferences with
teachers, they had not heard a clear explanation of where their child was
performing in relation to the content standard indicators. Those parents with male children were
concerned about the disparity between male and female students and reported a
general lack of interest in completing the reading assignments given by