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Area school teams look at data, implement plans to increase student achievement

By Staff | May 25, 2010

For the last nine months, teams at local Title 1 Schools have been analyzing data to help promote student achievement.
After the many months of examining FCAT test scores and other student achievement markers, they have established individual school improvement plans to help local low income and at risk students keep up with education standards.
School-specific plans range from special programs for math and reading concentration at Cape Coral’s Patriot Elementary, to student-based learning initiatives and even arts programs at North Fort Myers Academy for the Arts.
Last week, all Lee County A+ or data teams met with a nationally recognized consultant to share and summarize the work they have done to date, and that will also continue until the end of the school year. As Title 1 school designees, their initiatives will help determine continuing funding for programs to students that could otherwise fall behind.
Title 1 funds are designed to bridge the gap between low-income students and other students. The U.S. Department of Education provides these supplemental monies to local school districts to meet the needs of at-risk and low income students.
“Every Title 1 school has an A+ team, which is made up of the principal, the Title 1 school-based learning resource teacher and three or four other staff members,” said Principal-On-Assignment, District Interven-tions’ Linda Campochiaro Buckley.
“They have been looking at all the student status, all the student FCATs in reading, writing, math and science and more,” she said. “They are able, through looking at the data, to be able to ‘do the math’ to get them on level and beyond. Once the A+ teams studies the data, they can recommend how to set up classes, group students and look at data to achieve this.”
Mark T. Rolewski is the director of dissemination for leadership research and the national consultant for the Center for Data-Driven Reform in Education at Johns Hopkins University.
For more than 10 years he has consulted with numerous school districts across the country to help implement the data. He met with local teams this week to help them learn how to evaluate and plan the best research-proven programs and practices for their individual schools.
Carol Bromby, a North Fort Myers resident and principal of Patriot Elementary School, has been an educator for the last 37 years. In early days, she said, education was planned on activities that students liked to learn, but today the focus is the next step in advancing their education.
“Today, we are teaching what students need to learn. It’s important that we plan for what is important in what students need in their next steps of learning. Math, science, reading and writing are those steps,” Bromby continued.
That doesn’t mean it will be all work and no play, Bromby said.
“Today teachers still plan fun, exciting lessons, but with purpose,” she said.
The team at Patriot Elementary in Cape Coral consists of Wendy Wassman, learning resource teacher; teachers Annette Con-nolly, Michelina Edwards, Nicole Demski, Laura Osgood, Diane Blozis, Assistant Principal Francie Metzger and Principal Bromby.
Wassman said the data is already being successfully implemented. This is through communication with School Improvement Teams, individual teachers and more.
“We [the data team] meet monthly to give out information, also Principal Bromby uses our information at her principal meetings,” she said. “Weekly we communicate through grade level administration teams. For example, on Monday we meet with kindergarten and first grade teachers. We also go, for another example, over baseline scores with the teachers. It helps them effectively plan classes.”
An implementation of data also recently concerned improving writing skills.
“We looked at our writing scores and writing was an area we wanted to improve,” Wassman said. “Then, as a data team we came up with Patriot Writes, a monthly all-school writing prompt.”
An assignment was consistent given across several grades, making it more focused, she said, with the team scoring the papers and more active conversation was achieved by teachers.
Wassman said she believes this has been effective, once teachers understood the needs and the focus. Teachers also got special professional development training.
“With math, we gave the district baseline math tests to students and looked at where we needed to improve,” she said. “Then Laura Osgood, our technology specialist, designed a program that focused in on where students needed extra practice.”
On consultant Rolewski coming to Lee County, she said, “He’s really helped us focus, made us think about what’s important and what we need to do to get all over of our student where they need to be.”
Teacher and A+ Team member Tracy Toomey from North Fort Myers Academy for the Arts agreed the data system and the consultant Rolewski were helping to improve area education.
“He [Rolewski] is trying to get us to focus on what’s important in education — the learning environments. We’re developing a process and a culture in the way we teach,” said Toomey.
“We’re using data to drive instruction, using district and state assessments, to see where students should be, what they need and target that,” she continued.
Academy Principal Dr. Douglas Santini noted that a big part of the school year-long process of the data teams is to take their research and apply it to individual schools.
“Each school is different and we need to be right on target, and many use other things with this,” he said.
His team consists of William Wolff, Margaret Bregenzer, Monique Nelson, Michele Taun-ton, Elizabeth Spreckelmeier, Jamie McGoogan, Joanne Conde, Kimberly Smith and Tracy Toomey, LTR.
His school is an arts school, and uses art programs to help students achieve success through various specifically designed programs within those disciplines.
“We also use CRISS Strategies for learning,” he said.
Sherry Scott-Tyler is an A+ Team member and the CRISS coach.
“CRISS is an acronym for ‘Creating Independence Through Student-Owned Strategies,'” she said. “We’re really committed to it.”
The CRISS program is a professional development program designed to help all students read, write and learn more effectively.
“Basically the purpose of it is for students to learn strategies that will increase their own learning,” she said.
From the A+ Team, their data and input goes to the Leadership Team there, who make decisions on where programs should go.
“We have a second grade program where Intensive Intervention teacher Margie Nein and three paraprofessionals work with second graders outside of class, besides their daily work, on reading skills,” Santini continued. “We’ve already got scores back — they are the highest the have ever been.”
Of Title 1 schools in general in the area, Santini said, “For several years we [education professionals] thought Title 1 schools were diminishing, but because of the economy, we are seeing more, and Lee County added six more this year. That’s why all of this is important.”