Title

Acceleration Initiatives: Narrowing the Achievement Gap for Minorities

Location

Scarbrough 1

Strand #1

Academic Achievement & School Leadership

Relevance

Orange County Public Schools recognizes the sizable achievement gap we must narrow for the success of its students. District and community leaders have come to the realization that the achievement gap between White, Black, and Hispanic students has led to an increasing number of at-risk students in the school district. Together Black and Hispanic students make-up 63% of Orange County’s enrollment yet are the lowest performing ethnic sub-groups in the district. In previous years the achievement gap has begun to slightly narrow in some cases. Data has also revealed that Hispanics have a smaller achievement gap than Blacks and an unceasing yearly enrollment. White students are continuously outperforming Black and Hispanic students significantly in reading, math, and science. Realizing that the achievement gap amongst these ethic groups will remain the same unless new and innovating opportunities are offered to Black and Hispanic students, the Minority Achievement Office in our district has made this its predominant task. Hence, the implementation of the acceleration initiatives are specifically designed to pre-teach concepts to selected Black and Hispanic students. This has enabled them to be better prepared in reading, math, and science classes; increased their motivation, participation and confidence; attained a stronger contextual vocabulary; and ultimately close the achievement gap.

Brief Program Description

This session will focus on strategically planned pre-teaching opportunities that provide students with background knowledge for the concepts they will learn in class. This model will give students enough content background to master concepts during the formal lesson. Participants will leave with easy to apply approaches that a school or district can implement.

Summary

The Orange County Public Schools Minority Achievement Office has implemented three acceleration initiatives: third grade reading and fifth grade math and science. The reading initiative was the first implemented and returned positive qualitative and quantitative results. Students who were not proficient in third-grade reading were selected and pre-taught foundational skills, concepts, vocabulary and strategies that are aligned with the third-grade core lessons. This strengthened and deepened their knowledge; thereby, reducing or eliminating remediation. Year one findings concluded that 81% of the third grade participating students were eligible for promotion to fourth grade based on their Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) scores. Just as the reading initiative, the 5th grade science and math initiatives were founded on the same premise and follow the same structure: science and math skills, concepts, vocabulary and strategies will be aligned with the fifth grade science and math core lessons. Likewise, they are conducted before or after school with three hours per week of required student contact time and a student teacher ratio of 15:1. The acceleration teachers at each of the participating schools received professional development on initiative expectations, student instructional framework, suggested materials, student data collection and progress monitoring in order to achieve true acceleration. Classroom and acceleration teachers have built a strong communication network to share best practices in order to build student confidence, encourage strong participation, and motivate students in the cohorts to be successful. These three acceleration initiatives have solid indicators for closing the achievement gap of Black and Hispanic students.

Evidence

At the midpoint update, 67% of the students participating in the Reading Acceleration Initiative showed growth from the Fall District Benchmark Assessment to the Winter District Benchmark Assessment. The Black and Hispanic students in the cohort exceeded the district’s 51% “on target” performance by 9 percentage points with 60% “on target”. End of the year data showed that the 3rd Grade Reading Cohort had 81% of its students eligible for promotion based on FCAT scores Level 2 and above. Additionally, the cohort superseded its goal of 25% scoring 3 or above on the FCAT Reading assessment by 16 percentage points for a total of 41%.

Format

Individual Presentation

Biographical Sketch

Sylena Shazier is a district resource teacher for the Minority Achievement Office in Orlando Florida. She has a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education with an ESOL Endorsement; Masters’ degrees in Elementary Science and Educational Leadership; she is also certified in Conflict Resolution. Sylena has been an educator for over 13 years and has worked with Black and Hispanic students throughout her career. Her academic career has been spent in Title 1 schools; in both Fort Lauderdale, Florida and Orlando, Florida. Mrs. Shazier spent nine years in the classroom as a fifth grade teacher, three years as a math and science coach, and one year as a behavioral specialist. She was also the Title 1 and Parent Involvement Coordinator.

Julie Adams is originally from Buffalo, New York where she received her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Canisius College and a Master’s Degree with an emphasis in Reading from The University of Buffalo. After teaching there for nine years she relocated to the Orlando area. This is Julie’s tenth year with Orange County Public Schools where she has served the students as a Primary and Intermediate Classroom Teacher then as a Reading Coach at Lancaster Elementary. Julie then had the opportunity to be a member of the Inaugural team at Wetherbee Elementary School where she worked as Curriculum Resource Teacher, Testing Coordinator and Instructional Coach. In 2012 she was honored as the Wetherbee Elementary Teacher of the Year. Currently she is a District-based Resource Teacher in the Minority Achievement Office where she is a steadfast advocate of students by leading initiatives that support the schools in closing the Achievement Gap.

Keyword Descriptors

acceleration, pre-teaching, elementary, reading, math, science, achievement gap

Presentation Year

2015

Start Date

3-3-2015 2:45 PM

End Date

3-3-2015 4:00 PM

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Mar 3rd, 2:45 PM Mar 3rd, 4:00 PM

Acceleration Initiatives: Narrowing the Achievement Gap for Minorities

Scarbrough 1

This session will focus on strategically planned pre-teaching opportunities that provide students with background knowledge for the concepts they will learn in class. This model will give students enough content background to master concepts during the formal lesson. Participants will leave with easy to apply approaches that a school or district can implement.