Title

Improving Literacy Skills of all Students at the Secondary Level: A Practical Approach

First Presenter's Institution

Colquitt County Schools

Second Presenter's Institution

Colquitt County Schools

Third Presenter's Institution

Colquitt County Schools

Fourth Presenter's Institution

Colquitt County Schools

Fifth Presenter's Institution

NA

Strand #1

Academic Achievement & School Leadership

Relevance

This session is directly related to strand 1, “Head”: Academic Achievement and Leadership – Closing achievement gaps and promoting learning for all children and youth. The session focuses on how two Title I secondary schools are using Extended Learning Time within the school day, to close the achievement gap for ALL students by using data to effectively match students with easy to implement evidence-based interventions. Outcomes after one year of implementation indicate students are making more than one year’s growth in Lexile (a measure for reading comprehension), which is imperative to closing achievement gaps for students performing below grade level. Leaders from the school and district level will explain a practical approach to improving the literacy skills of all students within a large secondary school. The main presenter will hold a separate session on the exact evidence-based strategies and interventions being implemented.

Brief Program Description

Secondary schools are often overwhelmed by the sheer number of students reading below grade level. Sadly, secondary educators are faced with either ignoring the problem or only intervening with a small number of students. In this session designed for educators, participants will learn how one school district is using a systematic approach within their large secondary schools to improve the literacy skills of ALL students.

Summary

The newly signed ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) defines a Multi-Tier System of Supports as “a comprehensive continuum of evidence-based, systemic practices to support a rapid response to students’ needs.”

However, Secondary schools are often overwhelmed by the sheer number of students performing below grade level. Being tied to a massive master schedule in which the slightest tweak could cause a detrimental domino effect, large secondary schools are often left with the options of either ignoring the problem all together, or intervening with just a very small number of students. Most approaches to intervention at the secondary level require students to be scheduled into remedial classes, which means they lose access to electives and other classes that may peek their interest in a career pathway. In addition, students may quickly become disengaged when their schedule is filled with “double blocks” of reading and math.

In this session, one school district will share how they are using a systematic approach within their large secondary schools (over 1200 students) to improve the reading abilities of ALL students. This school district is home to the largest migrant population in the state, highest population of English Language Learners in its part of the state, and all schools within the district are Title I schools. Despite these barriers, this district is using the Multi-Tier System of Support/Response to Intervention framework as a means to overall school improvement, and finding positive outcomes after only one year of implementation.

By implementing Extended Learning Time (ELT) within the school day, and using multiple sources of data from valid and reliable assessments, the schools are able to provide quick, yet targeted intervention to those in need, while providing enrichment to others. During ELT all students and all teachers within the school are involved in one of 4 evidence-based reading interventions/strategies. The main presenter will hold a separate session on the exact evidence-based strategies and interventions being implemented.

A district level curriculum director will give an overview of the implementation model, and the research and evidence-based practices being implemented, then two school-level administrators will share their experiences with implementation. There will be a brief Q & A session following the presentation.

Evidence

The language of using a student’s response to intervention to make educational decisions can be found in the 2004 Reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and more recently the Every Student Succeeds Act refers to a Multi-Tier System of Supports as “a comprehensive continuum of evidence-based, systemic practices to support a rapid response to students’ needs.”

This presentation takes these theoretical approaches to improving student outcomes and provides a practical approach for large (or small) secondary schools.

Although this presentation is not about the specific interventions/strategies utilized, presenters will reference the evidence based interventions/strategies which are being utilized, and include: Peer Assisted Learning Strategies (Fuchs & Fuchs), Reciprocal Teaching (Palinscar & Brown), and The Differentiation Toolkit (Walpole & McKenna).

Possibly even more significant, is evidence of effectiveness we have found in our student outcome data at the local level. After only one year of implementation, the mean Lexile (measure of student reading comprehension) increased by 98L (6th grade) and 97L (7th grade) Lexile points. Whereas, expected growth for these groups of students based on the fall mean Lexile was only 52 – 60 points. These data indicate students made more than a year’s growth, which is vital in closing the achievement gap for students who are performing below grade level.

Format

Individual Presentation

Biographical Sketch

Dr. Tabathia Baldy has over 16 years of experience in public education. She currently serves as the Director for Response to Intervention (RtI) and Positive Behavioral Interventions/Supports (PBIS) in the Colquitt County School System in rural South Georgia. Prior to this, she served as a Special Education Director in Durham, North Carolina, and a RtI Coach & Coordinator, PBIS Coordinator, and Special Education Program Specialist in Stuart, Florida. She has also served as a special education teacher for students with severe emotional/behavioral disabilities in Georgia and Florida. She specializes in building and sustaining a Multi-Tiered System of Supports Framework that meets the needs of ALL students.

Frederick T. Smith is currently the principal of Charlie A. Gray Junior High School in Moultrie, Georgia (Title I District). He has over 20 years experience in education (16 in North Carolina and 4 in Georgia). Prior to becoming an administrator, Smith was a secondary science teacher and also served as an instructor at a group home for individuals with Autism. He was recognized as the Stanly County Schools Teacher of the Year in 2010. Since becoming principal at C. A. Gray Jr. High, Smith has implemented several initiatives with the intent of increasing student achievement, including Extended Learning Time, school-wide universal screeners, the use of Data Director/Illuminate to administer and analyze common rigorous assessments, and is in the beginning stages of implementing PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions/Supports).

Prior to his career in education, Smith served our country in the National Guard for 9 years.

Mrs. Kristen Harrison, M.Ed. is the Assistant Principal at Willie J. Williams Middle School in Colquitt County, Georgia. She has over eight years of experience in education. Prior to becoming Assistant Principal she served as a Special Education teacher (eight years) and simultaneously as the Special Education Department Chair (two years).

Mrs. Elizabeth (Betsy) Jones is a high school English/Language Arts teacher and content area leader. She serves on the schools Extended Learning Time (ELT) team and played an integral role in bringing ELT to the high school level and ensuring smooth implementation.

Keyword Descriptors

literacy, reading, secondary, RTI/MTSS, achievement gap, high school, fluency, comprehension

Presentation Year

March 2018

Start Date

3-6-2018 10:15 AM

End Date

3-6-2018 11:30 AM

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Mar 6th, 10:15 AM Mar 6th, 11:30 AM

Improving Literacy Skills of all Students at the Secondary Level: A Practical Approach

Secondary schools are often overwhelmed by the sheer number of students reading below grade level. Sadly, secondary educators are faced with either ignoring the problem or only intervening with a small number of students. In this session designed for educators, participants will learn how one school district is using a systematic approach within their large secondary schools to improve the literacy skills of ALL students.