The Remediation Plan for When We Return – The Most Vulnerable will be Even More Vulnerable

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All schools are, or should be, planning for what to do for all students when schools re-open, presumably (and hopefully) in the Fall, for the 20-21 school year. My schools are planning, and I believe that all schools should be planning, for supports that all students will need and the supports that the most vulnerable students will need.

The most vulnerable will be even more vulnerable…

We must be ready to meet student needs before the first day of school. Therefore, we must analyze data of student needs that we have generated during this current school year and pre-assess needs during the beginning of the year. We cannot and need not gather data on all standards. Let’s focus on the essentials. 

At the conclusion of each school year, there are still vulnerable students; in spite of our best efforts throughout the course of the year and in spite of student progress, school years end with students who are still not yet were they need to be and with us preparing for the ways in which we will support these students at the very beginning of the new school year, even if that student will be transitioning to a different school.

Wow…will we need to do that for this upcoming school year. In fact, there’s a strong likelihood that students who were vulnerable when schools shifted to virtual learning will have made less progress in closing gaps at home then they would have made had schools remained open. We must be ready. It starts with gathering and analyzing data.

This process has a name: Universal screening. What does it mean? Screeners filter those students who are at desperate risk of failure unless they receive immediate, intensive supports. 

If it’s predictable, it’s preventable. We can predict who these students are—they scored in the lowest performance band on the state test; they scored in the 6th percentile on a norm-referenced test; they were suspended for 12 days last year; they were not passing classes. A strong MTSS/RTI approach is predicated on the notion of prevention as opposed to the historical approach of waiting until a student fails and then launching a rescue mission. All students are screened to identify any individuals who, despite a strong core instructional program (Tier 1), are still in danger of failure. To ensure that students do not fall farther and farther behind, students must have access to immediate help. 

So here’s what we do: 

We screen to identify students most at-risk. What would we use to screen? Do we need to buy a new and administer a new test? We recommend that schools use the loads of data that they already gather to identify who is so far behind that they will simply not catch up in the absence of intensive support, provided as quickly as possible.

What could that look like, for example, in the area of reading? Most schools are using a three-times-a-year benchmark to establish current levels of readiness. Most of these benchmarks are computer-based and adaptive and many are quite good. Screening in these instances is simple; establish an initial criterion (e.g., students scoring in the 30th percentile or below or reading two or more grade levels behind). Students scoring below are highly likely to have a significant deficit in reading that requires immediate Tier 3 support (in addition to a highly differentiated and scaffolded set of Tier 1 supports). 

In preparation for this coming school year, we may need to reference the mid-year administration of such tests.

But, what if those types of benchmark tests are not available. While a grade of F may not accurately identify why a student did not pass a subject area or class, an F should serve to immediately screen a student as a likely candidate for more intensive supports, probably in the areas of reading or behavioral skills such as self-regulation, executive functioning, organization, or time management. An F in reading in elementary grades, or an F in an English class in middle and high schools, or multiple Fs in any grade level should lead to us asking questions about students’ reading skills. All grade levels and all subject areas require that a student read at or close to grade level to be successful, even when teacher teams provide scaffolded access to content.

Or, let’s systematically gather teachers’ specific feedback on students’ significant needs. Teachers spend an entire year or course with a student – or in this case, most of the year. If a significant deficit in the foundational skill areas of reading, numeracy, writing, or behavior exist, then the student will need intensive Tier 3 interventions and supports at the very beginning of the next year. Period. They ought to already be receiving these supports, but whether they are or are not, students are “screened” to be a strong candidate of Tier 3 supports if their current year teacher identifies them as such at the conclusion of the year. No other documentation or testing should be required to get them on the “list.” 

Screening is a process, not a test. The reason we screen is to as-immediately-as-possible begin providing intensive supports to students most in-need. First, we need to know why they are so significantly at-risk and determine their most immediate area of need.

In addition to end-of-the-year screening, my schools are also preparing short pre-assessments (or screeners) to administer at the very beginning of the year. These short tests assess student proficiency on the prior grade level or course essential learning targets and their preparedness for the coming year. The narrow focus of these pre-assessments will empower teachers to target prerequisite needs of students found to be vulnerable, particularly when combined with the screening information gathered prior to the end of this school year.

In these unprecedented times, our students need our best and we need the best tools to serve them. Mr. Elmer’s Intervention Compass is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Intervention Compass can help:

  • The universal screening of mindsets is available within Intervention Compass.
  • Data from these screeners can be organized and analyzed within Intervention Compass’ Data Walls.
  • Research-based strategies, found within Intervention Compass’ Intervention Library, can be used to promote more positive mindsets.
  • Students’ mindset needs and staff response to these needs can be documented within Intervention Compass’ notes section.
  • Progress monitoring can be scheduled, administered, and data plotted within Intervention Compass’ assessment support system.

We can be prepared to meet students’ behavioral needs. We must. Mr. Elmer is the best solution to help us in this critical work.

The Remediation Plan for When We Return – Re-establishing cultures, mindsets, and expectations for all

 

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All schools are, or should be, planning for what to do for all students when schools re-open, presumably (and hopefully) in the Fall, for the 20-21 school year. My schools are planning, and I believe that all schools should be planning, for supports that all students will need and the supports that the most vulnerable students will need.

Re-establishing cultures, mindsets, and expectations for all

In addition to reinforcing social norms, we will need to re-establish emotionally physically, and intellectually safe learning environments and the positive cultures and mindsets that schools have worked so hard to successfully establish. Parents and teachers have worked so hard to retain normalcy in these distance learning times, but learning by oneself and in pajamas is not the same as working together, both in and out of classrooms, in schools. 

Beyond a collaborative culture, a belief in the ability of all students to learn (academic and behavioral skills) at high levels is fundamental. Students know when educators have high expectations for their success (Zimmerman et al., 1992). When educators have high expectations, students learn at higher levels. There is no reference to that student or those students. No labels are allowed to persuade educators that students cannot self-regulate, be motivated, or be cooperative. With proactive and positive supports, educators can make significant impacts, and all students can be on track (or get back or track) for college, career, and future readiness. We have experienced it, and researchers demonstrate that behavioral skills are malleable (Farrington et al., 2012). Schools have worked so hard to establish cultures of high expectations for all learners achieving at high levels. We’ll need to rededicate ourselves, with staff enthusiastically, energetically, and passionately communicating to students that they can!

We cannot use a perceived lack of student motivation as an excuse to deny supports to students. Motivation is a symptom. Student needs in the areas of precognitive self-regulation, mindsets, social skills, perseverance, or learning strategies will likely lead to a lack of motivation. 

What can we do at the beginning of this new year to reestablish high expectations of positive mindsets? I recommend that schools develop an action plan to promote more positive student, and staff mindsets, directly related to the indicators provided by Camille Farrington and her colleagues (2012):

  • “I belong in this academic community.” – Here are steps that could be taken to increase students’ connections to school: Initiate or reinvigorate homerooms or advisory periods within secondary schools or classroom meetings in elementary schools; keep track of interactions within classrooms to ensure that a conversation (however brief) happens with every student at least every week; expand the quantity and type of activities or clubs at school so that every student can be involved, and will be held accountable to being involved, and connected to something on campus.
  • “My ability and competence grow with my effort.” Here are steps that could increase student and staff beliefs that, given time and the right supports, all students can learn at high level: Stop assigning points when work (quizzes, papers, tests) are returned, instead highlighting errors (opportunities for improvement) that all students are expected to correct or improve; stop assigning zeros that effectively let off the hook, instead assigning incompletes and requiring students to complete all assignments that were worthy or being assigned in the first place; require students to refine assignments and retake tests that are below an agreed upon level of mastery, instead of denying them the opportunity to show you what they now know after correcting errors, relearning concepts, and receiving support; consistently communicate a “not yet” approach to lack of understanding, as in, “I don’t get this yet,” instead of, “I don’t get this;” explicitly learn from errors, using a routine like “My Favorite No” (www.teachingchannel.org/videos/class-warm-up-routine), in which a “good” mistake is shared with the class an opportunity to grow.
  • “I can succeed at this.” Here are steps that could increase student and staff beliefs success with the task is possible: Learn about, and truly commit to, differentiation and scaffolding, for example, providing text that is at students’ reading level so that they can access science or social studies content or adjusting the complexity of numbers so that students can be successful accessing mathematics concepts; providing students with multiples ways of showing what they know, for example, videoing, screencasting, or recording audio of responses.
  • “This work has value for me.” In addition to striving to design experiences that tap into students’ lives, promote more voice, choice, and agency to increase the value that students place on their learning. Voice: Listen to students and use their input when providing options for the content with which they engage, process used for learning, and the products they use to show what they know. Choice: Allow students to exercise some choice over the place, pace, path, and time of day that they learn. Agency: Give students a stake in their learning, inviting (or requiring) them to track their progress toward learning.

Schools promoting positive mindsets sometimes believe that the teaching, modeling, and nurturing of behavioral skills is only for students who don’t seem to “care,” students at risk, or students from historically underperforming subgroups. This could not be further from the truth. All students will benefit from support with mindsets. We have met high-achieving students who do not persevere, and gifted students with fixed mindsets. Schools need not worry about when they will pull vulnerable students to teach them behavioral skills. The teaching and learning of behavioral skills is for all, and must be part of every school’s Tier 1, core environments:

Students are not likely to develop learning strategies in the absence either of explicit instruction or classwork that requires the use of such strategies. It may be most helpful to think about noncognitive factors as properties of the interactions between students and classrooms or school environments. Rather than being helpless in the face of students who lack perseverance and good academic behaviors, teachers set the classroom conditions that strongly shape the nature of students’ academic performance. The essential question is not how to change students to improve their behavior but rather how to create contexts that better support students in developing critical attitudes and learning strategies necessary for their academic success. Thus, teaching adolescents to become learners may require educators to shift their own beliefs and practices as well as to build their pedagogical skills and strategies to support student learning in new ways. Academic behaviors and perseverance may need to be thought of as creations of school and classroom contexts rather than as personal qualities that students bring with them to school. (p. 72)

So how do educators do it? What silver bullet or magic formula will help teachers and schools help students develop these habits? While there may be unique strategies about which educators do not know, the practices that are likely to help develop critical behavioral skills are the very same research-based best practices about which educators have read but may not have found time to implement or have not implemented well—rigorous and relevant teaching, collaborative learning, and differentiated instruction, to name a few.

The path is clear. This does not, however, mean that’s easy. Mr. Elmer’s Intervention Compass can help:

  • The universal screening of mindsets is available within Intervention Compass.
  • Data from these screeners can be organized and analyzed within Intervention Compass’ Data Walls.
  • Research-based strategies, found within Intervention Compass’ Intervention Library, can be used to promote more positive mindsets.
  • Students’ mindset needs and staff response to these needs can be documented within Intervention Compass’ notes section.
  • Progress monitoring can be scheduled, administered, and data plotted within Intervention Compass’ assessment support system.

 

We can be prepared to meet students’ behavioral needs. We must. Mr. Elmer is the best solution to help us in this critical work.

 

The Remediation Plan for When We Return – Re-connecting socially for all

 

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All schools are, or should be, planning for what to do for all students when schools re-open, presumably (and hopefully) in the Fall, for the 20-21 school year. My schools are planning, and I believe that all schools should be planning, for supports that all students will need and the supports that the most vulnerable students will need.

Re-connecting socially for all

Learning is social and classrooms and schools are incredibly social places. The norms for socialization within a classroom and school become second nature because of the intentional work of educators and because social norms are practiced and re-practiced hundreds of times a day. At least they are in normal times…

The need for schools to hit the ground running with smooth interactions between students and between students and staff is great, given the academic work that also needs to be done. We all need to have plans to remind and reinforce positive social connections.

A key element of active learning is collaborating with peers. Lev Vygotsky (1978) validated this notion many decades ago. Learning is social, and students learn more when they work with peers, process with peers, and rehearse their emerging understandings with peers.

And classrooms are communities. When community members cooperate and behave empathetically toward one another, positive, respectful interactions are much more likely to be observed, and all students learning at high levels will be possible, perhaps even probable.

Many teachers have expressed that there are students who have “checked out” within distance learning. We are finding that, often, these are students who were not particularly engaged prior to distance learning. I strongly suggest that we reflect upon this phenomenon. First, disengaged students, either in a face-to-face or virtual setting, do not learn at high levels. Engaging students is our responsibility. How do we do it during face-to-face classroom settings? We intentionally nurture relationships with all students and we guide students in making connections to someone and something within school. All students. The fact that some students are not engaged in distance learning is unfortunate. The fact that these are the same students who were disengaged before distance learning should be a call to action. When we return, let’s redouble our efforts to ensure that all students are socially, intellectually, and emotionally engaged.

So what do we do? We can predict that social norms will need to be modeled, taught, reinforced, and in some cases, retaught in light of the months that students have been away from physical schools. There is no magic formula for modeling, teaching, reinforcing, and reteaching behavioral skills, as I will outline below. What’ll be different about this coming school year is that even more time ought to be dedicated to these important learning opportunities.

We ought to carve out and dedicate time during every school year to the teaching and learning of behavioral skills. For this coming school year, we’d recommend carving out a bit more time than normal, particularly at the beginning of the year and, as in any year, following these steps:

  1. Identify the most critical behavioral skills – The critical behavioral skills that we will need to model, teach, and reinforce will not be terribly different in the coming year; there simply may be some students with relatively greater needs than in years past and we will may need to dedicate more time. The research is clear on the domains of behavioral skills are essential. As you think about your students’ needs and about your current PBIS motto (e.g., PRIDE, STARS, respect, responsibility, and safety), analyze how they match the domains defined in the research. Will you model, teach, and reinforce skills within the domains of 1) Mindsets, 2) Social Skills, 3) Perseverance, 4) Learning Strategies, and 5) Academic Behaviors. We’d recommend that your prioritization of behavioral skills you deem to be most critical for your students include skills from each domain.
  2. Define and make sense of these skills – Identifying critical skills isn’t enough. We must also define what it looks like and sounds like when these skills are displayed, so that staff, students, and parents are crystal clear on the success criteria for behavioral learning targets. Consistency in understanding or expectations will be even more important this coming year.
  3. Model, teach, and nurture these skills – We cannot demonstrate what critical behavioral skills look like once during a beginning of the year assembly and expect students (and staff) to be good to go. Would we provide a beginning of the year assembly on reading comprehension and expect that to suffice? Instead, we recommend providing weekly (preferably Monday) behavioral skill mini-lessons that are intentionally reinforced though each day throughout the week.
  4. Measure student success in displaying these skills – Students need to know when their practice of behavioral skills is sufficient. And staff need to know which students are meeting which behavioral expectations and which are not yet meeting expectations and therefore need additional, alternative supports.
  5. Provide differentiated supports that respect students’ current levels of readiness – We can, starting now, gather evidence on students whose behavioral needs require differentiated supports this year so that differentiated supports can be proactively and positively put into place at the very beginning of next year. All students can behave productively when they receive the correct supports. The process of gathering information at the end of the year to inform supports at the beginning of a new year is called Universal Screening. Screening informs differentiated Tier 1. It also informs more intensive types of supports.
  6. Intervene appropriately and as necessary when evidence reveals the need – There will be students who need more time and alternative supports and strategies (Tier 2) to display appropriate mindsets, social skills, perseverance, learning strategies, and academic behaviors. Other students will need to our most intensive sets of supports (Tier 3) to be successful. Next year, more than ever, we need to be ready to provide these types of supports immediately. To do this, we need to know which students need which supports with which skills.

 

The path is clear. This does not, however, mean that’s easy. Mr. Elmer’s Intervention Compass can help:

  • The universal screening of behavioral skills is available within Intervention Compass.
  • Data from these screeners can be organized and analyzed within Intervention Compass’ Data Walls.
  • Research-based strategies, found within Intervention Compass’ Intervention Library, can be matched to identified needs.
  • Student needs and staff response to student needs can be documented within Intervention Compass’ notes section.
  • Progress monitoring can be scheduled, administered, and data plotted within Intervention Compass’ assessment support system.

 

We can be prepared to meet students’ behavioral needs. We must. Mr. Elmer is the best solution to help us in this critical work.


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Intervention Compass will keep your team on the same page about each student! Don’t let anyone fall through the cracks…

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The Remediation Plan for When We Return

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All schools are, or should be, planning for what to do for all students when schools re-open, presumably (and hopefully) in the Fall, for the 20-21 school year. My schools are planning, and I believe that all schools should be planning, for supports that all students will need and the supports that the most vulnerable students will need.

Re-connecting socially for all

Learning is social and classrooms and schools are incredibly social places. The norms for socialization within a classroom and school become second nature because of the intentional work of educators and because social norms are practiced and re-practiced hundreds of times a day. At least they are in normal times…

The need for schools to hit the ground running with smooth interactions between students and between students and staff is great, given the academic work that also needs to be done. We all need to have plans to remind and reinforce positive social connections.

Re-establishing cultures, mindsets, and expectations for all

In addition to reinforcing social norms, we will need to re-establish emotionally physically, and intellectually safe learning environments and the positive cultures and mindsets that schools have worked so hard to successfully establish. Parents and teachers have worked so hard to retain normalcy in these distance learning times, but learning by oneself and in pajamas is not the same as working together, both in and out of classrooms, in schools. 

The most vulnerable will be even more vulnerable…

  • We must be ready to meet student needs before the first day of school. Therefore, we must analyze data of student needs that we have generated during this current school year and pre-assess needs during the beginning of the year. We cannot and need not gather data on all standards. Let’s focus on the essentials.
  • We must be ready with instructional plans that address potential needs. Therefore, we must create and curate materials and strategies that adults can use to catch students up, designing instructional/remediation plans tied to those standards, skills, and dispositions for which we gather data. Again, we cannot and need not gather data on all standards. Let’s focus on the essentials.
  • We must plan to utilize the precious number of school days we have to address the needs that we can realistically predict in this situation. We must plan the entire year with the beginning-of-the-year remediation needs in mind. We can predict that more days at the beginning of the year will be needed to reteach and reconnect and that we will likely need more days throughout the year (buffer days within and between units) to reteach and enrich. Learning essentials is more important than attempting to cover all standards; mastery is more important than coverage. Let’s prepare calendars in advance that provide time for meeting student needs and re-prioritize, re-scope, and re-sequence standards throughout the year.
  • We must plan to provided ongoing Tier 2 and 3 supports throughout the year. Of course, we have always done this, but it’s possible that students with vulnerabilities will need our timely, targeted, and intensive supports more than ever. Let’s ensure that our RTI/MTSS plans, for both academic and behavioral needs, ensure proactive and impactful supports for students.

In subsequent weeks, we will expand on each of these topics. And in subsequent weeks, we will further describe a solution for helping schools in these areas:

  • Generating, accessing, and aggregating data, both academic and behavioral, into immediately usable forms will be vital – Mr. Elmer’s Intervention Compass can help.
  • Facilitating collaboration between the adults on campus as they strive to serve students will be vital – Mr. Elmer’s Intervention Compass can help.
  • Monitoring student progress and documenting student’s learning journeys, both academically and behaviorally, will be vital – Mr. Elmer’s Intervention Compass can help.

 

In these unprecedented times, our students need our best and we need the best tools to serve them. Mr. Elmer’s Intervention Compass is unlike anything you’ve ever seen.

Why Support Rigorous Learning?

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Not everyone likes the word rigorous. 

 

Why do we, as educators, need to support rigorous learning? It’s simple. Systems of Supports for Rigorous Learning (SSRL) ensure high levels of learning for all students at all readiness levels through the integration of elements from the most important and impactful initiatives within public education. Those initiatives are:

  • Response to intervention (RTI)
  • Multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS)
  • Professional learning communities (PLCs)
  • Positive behavior interventions and supports (PBIS)
  • Universal design for learning (UDL)
  • Special education, gifted education, and differentiated instruction

 

Most significantly, SSRL build upon RTI, a proactive, coordinated, and systemic approach to providing academic and behavioral supports for all students. Within SSRL, collaborative teams of educators ask:

  • What student needs can we anticipate? 
  • For what supports can we proactively plan and prepare?

 

Contemporary students deserve contemporary schools and educators. The very recent NAEP report reconfirms that most students are not ready for college and a skilled career and that a growing number of students are functionally illiterate and innumerate  (http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/). We must simultaneously increase the rigor and relevance of learning experiences and better support vulnerable students. 

 

The good news: We know more than ever what works best in schools.

 

While SSRL represent a set of supports for all students—one of the most highly-effective and researched-based practices in which schools can engage—the concept entered education through the reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) in 2004. 

 

Whereas practitioners previously used the IQ-achievement discrepancy model to identify children with learning disabilities, the reauthorization allowed schools to employ a lack of “response to intervention” as an alternative method for determining eligibility and as a rationale for providing early intervention. 

 


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Using a lack of response to intervention for such determinations has implications for all of education. Systemically and successfully implementing RTI within a SSRL requires that all staff instruct and intervene and monitor the extent to which students are responding

 

From struggling students striving to meet minimum proficiency levels to gifted students striving to reach their potential, SSRL invite a collaborative effort among students, teachers, parents, and the community to prioritize students achieving positive outcomes. The system of supports that schools are increasingly scheduling into school days have the potential to provide more customized supports for every student. SSRL are a framework, a way of thinking, in which teams continuously ask, “To what extent are students responding to instruction and intervention?”

 

Challenge: Lack of Clarity

Challenges remain in our well-intentioned efforts to realize the full potential of this important endeavor, and they are largely due to a lack of clarity about the positive impact of a well-constructed approach to SSRL that can be realized by all schools. The critical components of an effective SSRL are:

  • Differentiated instruction and learning opportunities for all students
  • Timely, proactive identification of vulnerable students 
  • Increasingly targeted and intensive future instruction and intervention based on student response to present instruction and intervention
  • Coordinated and evidence-informed decision-making 

 

SSRL are equally impactful for students who are not identified as struggling, but who are considered at or above level, and whose needs are not being met. SSRL can and must be applied to all students; educators must work to ensure that every student has access to engaging learning experiences. 

 

Unfortunately, part of the confusion about SSRL has occurred because of a lack of clarity around the definitions and functions of each level of support for both academics and behavior. 

 

Core supports are differentiated—Teaching and learning cycles designed so that every student masters grade-level and course-specific behavioral and academic priorities for all students. Teachers respond to a student’s unique learning needs by making adjustments to process, content, product, and environments based on a student’s interests, learning profile, and readiness levels. These supports are often described as Tier 1. Key points include:

  • Teach less, learn more (quality, not quantity; depth, not breadth; mastery, not coverage)
  • Scaffolded, differentiated, respectful
  • Skills and content; verbs and nouns
  • Pro-social and pro-functional skills, e.g., self-regulation, executive functioning, social-emotional
  • 21st century skills, e.g., creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, communication
  • Commonly crafted and analyzed assessments to plan for instruction and inform interventions

 

More supports are individualized—timely and targeted supports for greater levels of student mastery of academic and behavioral priorities, so that students don’t fall behind (or further behind) and so that students can achieve reach greater depths of understanding. If differentiation is the how, then individualization is the when. Learning progresses at different speeds; some students may need to review previously covered material, while others may be ready to immerse themselves in a certain topic. These supports are often described as Tier 2. Key points include:

  • Directly based on Benjamin Bloom’s work in the 1960s
  • Based on the “formula” – Time + Support = Learning
  • Informed by short-cycle assessments
  • More time—for both alternative supports and to gain mastery of the priorities – for intervention and enrichment
  • Provided during daily flex times or during “buffer” days
  • Students grouped based on specific skill needs
  • Other school staff may join grade-level and course-specific teachers, to reduce teacher-student ratios
  • Does not replace the core

 

Specialized supports are personalized—Intervention and enrichment to meet students at the forward edge of their zones of proximal development; intensive supports to meet significant deficits in foundational skills and opportunities for students to exercise choice over the what and how of passions into which they will dive deeply. If differentiation is the how and individualization is the when, the personalization is the where—as in, where are students in their learning journey. Students who are not yet performing at expected levels, due to significant deficits in foundational skills, receive targeted and intensive supports at the leading edge of their zone of proximal development to close the gap. Students who are meeting and exceeding age and grade expectations dig deeper into areas of interest. All students’ experiences are tailored to preferences and interests; support is paced to students’ unique needs. Students are involved in the creation and monitoring of their learning path. These supports are often described as Tier 3. Key points include:

  • Proactive, immediate, intensive
  • Diagnostically-driven and targeted (e.g., on phonemic awareness, single-syllabic phonics, or multisyllabic phonics)
  • Address and improve significant deficits in foundational skills, or

provide personalized learning plans, giving students opportunities to exercise choice over the what and how of the passions into which they will dive deeply

  • For students who have been screened to be multiple grade levels behind their peers in foundational skills and for students who have not responded to core (Tier 1) and more (Tier 2)
  • Adjusted to match student needs and revised until the student is adequately responding to intervention (success is inevitable)
  • In addition to Tier 1 and 2; does not replace core or more supports

 

Systems of Supports for Rigorous Learning are appropriate for all students and all educators and we are successfully transforming schools across the world by employing its principle and practices (http://www.chriswebereducation.com/). Success is dependent upon the enthusiastic and committed collaboration of all adults who are connected to students. Ultimately, an SSRL represent the ways in which we behave as educators and not simply a collection of things that we implement or buy.

To Provide Feedback, We Must Monitor Progress

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Providing timely and specific feedback to students is essential to promoting a growth mindset and ensuring that every student is future-ready at optimal levels.

 

To provide accurate feedback, we must gather evidence about where students are and set goals about where they’re going. This evidence gathering is sometimes called checking for understanding, formatively assessing, or progress monitoring.

 

Progress monitoring, appropriate for all students, measures the extent to which students are responding to instruction, and when necessary, interventions. Here are a few keys to gathering the evidence we need to continuously inform teaching and learning:

 

  1. Involve students

Students can self-assess, and doing so can give kiddos a feeling of ownership over their learning journey. Plotting progress on a simple graph gives students practice with this important skill and makes their growth visible. After plotting a current score and extending their progress line, we ask students to plot a target for the future.

 

  1. Choose simple tools and readily available scores

Simple is best. Scores such as words correct per minute (from oral reading fluency probes), digits correct per minute (from math fact fluency quizzes), Lexile values (from a variety of computer-based reading assessments), and behavior points (from daily check-in / check-out procedures) are typically part of schools’ existing data world. Of course, anecdotal evidence of progress can provide richer information and should also be gathered, but easily quantifiable indicators of performance can provide students and teachers a snapshot of where we are now.

 

  1. Monitor student learning within each lesson

Tickets out the door and exit slips are popular and powerful ways of informing future instruction. Using index cards or scratch paper, teachers can pose a simple question to students during the closure of a lesson that matching the lesson’s learning objective. Teachers can then efficiently analyze how the lesson went, which students may need more time and/or an alternative sets of supports, and where misunderstandings may exist. We also recommend mid-lesson checks for understanding. Here’s one idea: 

About halfway through a lesson, after a teacher’s metacognitive modeling of a new concept and some initial student practice, with a gradual release of responsibility to students and opportunities for students to process new learning through think-pair-share, ask each student to respond to a quick question and respond via a small white board held aloft (“1-2-3, boards on me”) or through padlet, kahoot, or another digital resource. The mid-lesson information that is gathered can inform which students complete which tasks and which students need small group time with the teacher, before frustrations can occur and before students fall behind.

Making informal and frequent progress monitoring a part of the daily habit of the classroom can empower both teachers and students to make timely shifts.

 

  1. Frequently and accurately monitor student response to intervention

RTI is a verb…to what extent are students responding to intervention…to what extent are they RTI’ing. We have found that an absence of progress monitoring is one of the major difficulties that is negatively impacting the success of schools’ RTI and MTSS efforts. There is simply no RTI unless we know the extent to which students are responding so that we can make the timely adjustments that vulnerable students so desperately need. This need not be complicated. We must, however, a plan. Who will monitor progress, when within the day will progress be monitored, and how frequently will progress be monitored? Of course, we must also determine which assessments or tools to use, and this task tends to present the greatest challenge. We have found that a difficulty selecting the right tool with which to monitor progress often indicates a lack of intervention focus. The best intervention is a targeted intervention. The best progress monitoring tool is one that measures student progress in mastering the skill that the intervention is targeting. For example, if the student’s reading need is best targeted through a phonics intervention, then measure progress in phonics; if the students’ reading need is best targeted through a comprehension intervention, then measure progress in comprehension. The best intervention is targeted intervention; the best progress monitoring is targeted progress monitoring.

 

  1. Use student progress to adjust teacher practices

Any evidence gathered for individual students (whether classroom wide unit/chapter tests, tickets out the door/exit slips, or the simple tests described above) can be combined to determine the success of our teaching efforts. Progress monitoring allows students to reflect and revise their efforts; the same goes for us. When evidence indicates that students are not adequately responding to instruction or intervention, we must reflect on the appropriateness of our strategies and make informed adjustments.

 

Progress monitoring has most typically been associated with RTI, providing the information needed to determine the extent to which a student is responding to supplemental supports. But progress monitoring applies to all students. Whatever tools we chose to use, morning student growth provides an opportunity for students to have a voice in their learning journey and for educators to begin a feedback conversation. 

 

Working With Students, Not On Students

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We open this blog by asserting that the greatest challenge facing schools is the inequities of achievement among ethnic, socio-economic, and linguistic subgroups. In other words, we’re humiliated by the fact that the achievement of subgroups of students at the beginning of school years can be predicted with unfortunate certainty based on the subgroup of the student. This is not the fault of teachers or administrators.

Likewise, the most critical goal – the only goal – for schools is ensuring the equities of achievement among ethnic, socio-economic, and linguistic subgroups. In other words, we.must.disrupt.inequities. This is the primary responsibility of teachers and administrators today.

Increasingly, we have evidence – evidence that we will describe in future blogs – that a primary cause of, or contributor to, inequities is negative mindsets, or self-efficacies, or the absence of non-cognitive skills, among students who are not yet experiencing success. And, like it or not, although certainly not an intentional outcome, our practices, policies, actions, and words contribute to a student’s mindsets, self-efficacies, and the possession or absence of non-cognitive skills among students who are not yet experiencing success.

We suggest that one of the – but certainly not the only – contributors to this phenomenon is the ways in which educators are prepared for the profession. We propose that the philosophy of learning that governs and guides our work should represent a better balance of Behaviorism and Humanism. First, let’s review the transformational work of B. F. Skinner: Behaviorism.

  1. F. Skinner and Behaviorism

The theoretical and practical foundations that most educators received within teacher education programs were grounded in Behaviorism and the work of B.F. Skinner. The work of Skinner was transformatively important and, perhaps, a bit misunderstood and misapplied as it relates to managing student behavior within K-12.

Skinner considered that free will is an illusion and that human action is dependent on consequences, or reinforcements, of previous actions. If the consequences are bad, there is a high chance the action will not be repeated; if the consequences, or reinforcements, are good, the probability of the action being repeated becomes stronger.

According to Behaviorism, positive reinforcement is the strengthening of behavior by the occurrence of some event, whereas negative reinforcement is the strengthening of behavior by the removal or avoidance of some aversive event.

Skinner believed that effective teaching must be based on positive reinforcement, which he believed to be more effective at changing and establishing behavior than punishments. He suggested that the main thing people learn from being punished is how to avoid punishment. 

Without knowing the science underlying the teaching and learning of behavioral (and academic) skills, teachers often rely on practices for which there is little (or no) evidence of success:

  • Using aversive techniques 
  • Relying on telling and explaining 
  • Neglecting to adapt learning tasks to the student’s current readiness levels
  • Forgetting to provide positive reinforcement frequently enough

In other words, there is a lack of effective differentiation practices, a reliance on lecturing as a content-delivery system, a focus on control and negative reinforcers, and even in the best of situations, a teacher-centered learning environment.

Skinner offered steps for the teaching of academic and behavioral skills:

  • Clearly specify the action or performance the student is to learn
  • Break down the task into small achievable steps, going from simple to complex
  • Let the student perform each step, reinforcing correct actions
  • Adjust so that the student is always successful until finally the goal is reached
  • Shift to intermittent reinforcement to maintain the student’s performance

The steps are, not coincidentally, very similar to the lesson designs of Hunter (1982), Joyce, Weil, and Calhoun (2008), Fisher and Frey (2008), and Hollingsworth and Ybarra (2009). While teacher-centered (and in the worst situations, didactic), these pedagogical approaches (termed direct instruction by Hattie) have been shown to be effective (Hattie, 2009).

And yet, in light of inequities that most certainly exist and the proven potential impact of mindsets on disrupting inequities, we recommend that educators consider another philosophy of learning and teaching.

We recognize that the teaching and learning of academic skills, and the management and correcting of student behaviors, that is often attributed to Skinner and Behaviorism may very well be a bastardization of this -ism and of this individual’s work. And yet, even when viewed in its best light, Behaviorism tends to work on students and not with students. There is another school of thought that may serve as a complement to the principles of Behaviorism.

Carl Rogers and Humanism

Carl Rogers, like B. F. Skinner, was an incredibly significant psychologist, both within and outside the United States. We have found, however, that Rogers’ influence within schools has not been nearly as impactful. Make no mistake, though; what Skinner is to the important field of Behaviorism, Rogers is to Humanism. And, as we note in the beginning of this blog, we strongly recommended a better balance between Behaviorism and Humanism. We’ve reminded ourselves of Behaviorism; let’s introduce Humanism.

Rogers’ philosophy of student behavior and motivation rested on his belief that all students naturally strive to actualize, maintain, and enhance their learning experiences. Therefore, the most productive perspective for understanding the behavior of students is from the internal frame of reference of the student. Behavior is basically the goal-directed attempt of students to satisfy their needs as they experience them in any given situation. 

For Rogers, a student’s emotions accompany, and facilitate, all behaviors. Behavior is communication. As a student experiences life, the student either, a) organizes the experience into some relation to self, b) ignores the experience because there is no perceived relationship to self, or c) rejects the experience because it is inconsistent with the self. Most of the ways that a student behaves are directly connected to a student’s concept of self.

Humanism, according to Rogers, rests on presuming the positive in students – having an unconditional positive regard – and accepting students without negative judgment about their life conditions and background.

According to Rogers, and significant to the topics of mindsets and non-cognitive skills, self-concept is the perception of the characteristics of ‘I’ or ‘me’ and the perceptions of the relationships of the ‘I’ or ‘me’ to others and to various aspects of life. The development of the self-concept depends on conditional and unconditional positive regard. Students who experience – in and out of school – an environment of unconditional positive regard have the opportunity to fully actualize themselves. Those raised in an environment of conditional positive regard feel worthy only if they match conditions that have been laid down for them by others. Students who believe they can learn at high levels, and behave in positive ways, are much, much more likely to do so.

Educators who put Humanism into practice:

  • Inspire students to adopt an openness to experience. 
  • Encourage an increasingly existential lifestyle – living each moment fully.
  • Do not force experiences to fit a specific personality type of or rigid concept of self, but allow personality and self-concept to be shaped by the experience, resulting in excitement, daring, adaptability, tolerance, spontaneity, and a lack of rigidity.
  • Practice trust – educators trust students and students trust their own judgment and their ability to choose behaviors that are appropriate for each moment – they do not rely on existing codes and social norms but trust that as they are open to experiences they will learn and grow.

Choice is a fundamental concept in Humanism. Students believe that they play a role in determining their own behavior and so feel responsible for their own behavior. Choice and freedom promote creativity. They feel trusted to act constructively. Within Humanistic environments , students live a rich, full, exciting, and more intense life.

To achieve optimally Humanistic environments, Rogers proposed five hypotheses:

  1. “A person cannot teach another person directly; a person can only facilitate another’s learning” (Rogers, 1951). What the student does is more important than what the teacher does. 
  2. “A person learns significantly only those things that are perceived as being involved in the maintenance of or enhancement of the structure of self” (Rogers, 1951). Relevance, and a student’s experiences, are essential.
  3. “Experience which, if assimilated, would involve a change in the organization of self, tends to be resisted through denial or distortion of symbolism” (Rogers, 1951). Being open – feeling safe and possessing a positive mindset – to consider concepts that vary from one’s own is vital to learning. 
  4. “The structure and organization of self appears to become more rigid under threats and to relax its boundaries when completely free from threat” (Rogers, 1951). Intellectually, emotionally, and physically safe learning environments are foundationally fundamental, and must be actively designed and maintained, for affective filters to be low.
  5. “The educational situation which most effectively promotes significant learning is one in which (a) threat to the self of the learner is reduced to a minimum and (b) differentiated perception of the field is facilitated” (Rogers, 1951). The teacher is always learning from the student as the student learns from the teacher; feedback is a two-way street.

To close, we have based our traditional school practices on a heavy dose of Behaviorism, and it has served us pretty well. To achieve total equity, however, a balance is needed, with a deliberate infusion of Humanistic beliefs and practices. 

We submit that a primary cause of inequities is negative mindsets within students who are not yet learning at high levels or experiencing success and we accept that we – educators – are contributing to these negative mindsets, albeit unintentionally. We are the answer we’ve been waiting for. To disrupt and eliminate inequities, we must actively practice, promote, and teach positive mindsets.

 

Explainer

 

Carl Rogers and Humanism

Carl Rogers, like B. F. Skinner, was an incredibly significant psychologist, both within and outside the United States. We have found, however, that Rogers’ influence within schools has not been nearly as impactful. Make no mistake, though; what Skinner is to the important field of Behaviorism, Rogers is to Humanism. And, as we note in the beginning of this blog, we strongly recommended a better balance between Behaviorism and Humanism. We’ve reminded ourselves of Behaviorism; let’s introduce Humanism.

Rogers’ philosophy of student behavior and motivation rested on his belief that all students naturally strive to actualize, maintain, and enhance their learning experiences. Therefore, the most productive perspective for understanding the behavior of students is from the internal frame of reference of the student. Behavior is basically the goal-directed attempt of students to satisfy their needs as they experience them in any given situation. 

For Rogers, a student’s emotions accompany, and facilitate, all behaviors. Behavior is communication. As a student experiences life, the student either, a) organizes the experience into some relation to self, b) ignores the experience because there is no perceived relationship to self, or c) rejects the experience because it is inconsistent with the self. Most of the ways that a student behaves are directly connected to a student’s concept of self.

Humanism, according to Rogers, rests on presuming the positive in students – having an unconditional positive regard – and accepting students without negative judgment about their life conditions and background.

According to Rogers, and significant to the topics of mindsets and non-cognitive skills, self-concept is the perception of the characteristics of ‘I’ or ‘me’ and the perceptions of the relationships of the ‘I’ or ‘me’ to others and to various aspects of life. The development of the self-concept depends on conditional and unconditional positive regard. Students who experience – in and out of school – an environment of unconditional positive regard have the opportunity to fully actualize themselves. Those raised in an environment of conditional positive regard feel worthy only if they match conditions that have been laid down for them by others. Students who believe they can learn at high levels, and behave in positive ways, are much, much more likely to do so.

Educators who put Humanism into practice:

  • Inspire students to adopt an openness to experience. 
  • Encourage an increasingly existential lifestyle – living each moment fully.
  • Do not force experiences to fit a specific personality type of or rigid concept of self, but allow personality and self-concept to be shaped by the experience, resulting in excitement, daring, adaptability, tolerance, spontaneity, and a lack of rigidity.
  • Practice trust – educators trust students and students trust their own judgment and their ability to choose behaviors that are appropriate for each moment – they do not rely on existing codes and social norms but trust that as they are open to experiences they will learn and grow.

Choice is a fundamental concept in Humanism. Students believe that they play a role in determining their own behavior and so feel responsible for their own behavior. Choice and freedom promote creativity. They feel trusted to act constructively. Within Humanistic environments , students live a rich, full, exciting, and more intense life.

To achieve optimally Humanistic environments, Rogers proposed five hypotheses:

  1. “A person cannot teach another person directly; a person can only facilitate another’s learning” (Rogers, 1951). What the student does is more important than what the teacher does. 
  2. “A person learns significantly only those things that are perceived as being involved in the maintenance of or enhancement of the structure of self” (Rogers, 1951). Relevance, and a student’s experiences, are essential.
  3. “Experience which, if assimilated, would involve a change in the organization of self, tends to be resisted through denial or distortion of symbolism” (Rogers, 1951). Being open – feeling safe and possessing a positive mindset – to consider concepts that vary from one’s own is vital to learning. 
  4. “The structure and organization of self appears to become more rigid under threats and to relax its boundaries when completely free from threat” (Rogers, 1951). Intellectually, emotionally, and physically safe learning environments are foundationally fundamental, and must be actively designed and maintained, for affective filters to be low.
  5. “The educational situation which most effectively promotes significant learning is one in which (a) threat to the self of the learner is reduced to a minimum and (b) differentiated perception of the field is facilitated” (Rogers, 1951). The teacher is always learning from the student as the student learns from the teacher; feedback is a two-way street.

To close, we have based our traditional school practices on a heavy dose of Behaviorism, and it has served us pretty well. To achieve total equity, however, a balance is needed, with a deliberate infusion of Humanistic beliefs and practices. 

We submit that a primary cause of inequities is negative mindsets within students who are not yet learning at high levels or experiencing success and we accept that we – educators – are contributing to these negative mindsets, albeit unintentionally. We are the answer we’ve been waiting for. To disrupt and eliminate inequities, we must actively practice, promote, and teach positive mindsets.

“Diagnosing” student needs – It’s critical – It need not be complicated

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The best intervention – the best support – is a targeted intervention. Particularly for students with significant deficits in foundational skills, worksheet completion and broad-based reviews of a subject area are simply neither effective nor efficient. We have had dramatically impactful successes closing gaps quickly when we have focused on specific skill deficits. We’ve been able to provide these focused supports because we have conducted simple diagnoses.

Diagnosing the antecedents, causes, and explanations behind a student’s difficulty is a fundamental task of collaborative systems of support. It is unproductive to over-simplistically conclude that students perform poorly because they cannot read, and unproductive to then provide them with hours of daily reading intervention that focus on all domains of literacy. Diagnosing gets to the why. Perhaps the student reads fluently, with accuracy, prosody, and expression, but derives little meaning from the text. Or perhaps the student comprehends text quite well in spite of labored, error-filled, and disfluent reading. Determining the why behind student difficulties allows us to target supports.

We often hear from colleagues that they do not feel qualified to conduct diagnoses – that only trained specialized using validated instruments can adequately. We say poppy-cock! I’m a former mathematics secondary teacher and was an elementary school principal. The most common need amongst students with significant deficits is typically related to reading. Thus, as a lead leader, I committed to assist in determining the why behind students’ reading challenges. Through interviews and conversations, using simple protocols that we often created, we not only accurately determined the primary causes to a reading challenge; we were able to match a specific support to the identified cause and start the student on the road to reading improvement (all in about 15 minutes…true story).

We have developed “interviews” with our staffs, available online, that are intended to make diagnosing student needs more efficient, and to make regular educators like us more confident and successful (Hierck and Weber; 2015a; 2015b). 

Like screening, diagnosing is much more a process than an event (e.g., a test). While we hope that these resources assist in your efforts to serve our most vulnerable students, we are conscientious of too much assessment. We lament that some schools administer assessments of this depth to all students; we do not believe that this is necessary. We conduct these in-depth diagnoses to learn about the causes of student difficulties so that we can provide specific and focused support.

We must determine the why; students are counting on it. It cannot be overly burdensome or time-consuming. We must act. My colleagues and I can help…

 

Getting to the WHY of student difficulties

 

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As we relentlessly strive to find the right support for students in need – supports that will lead to positive responses to intervention – we are guided by several factors:

 

  • We are seeking causes of student difficulties. We must look beneath the symptoms and determine the why. For example, when striving to determine to appropriate behavioral support when a student is behaving, we look beneath the symptom (perhaps inattentiveness) to identify the function, purpose, or cause of the symptom: Why is the student misbehaving? We then do our very best to match a support to the cause.
  • The more precise and focused we can be in making this match, the more immediate the positive response. Research has continually validated this targeted approach  (Gersten, Compton, Connor, Dimino, Santoro, & Linan-Thompson, 2009).
  • As we will note below, in addition to the learning benefits (students respond more quickly to interventions), there are logistical benefits. When focusing on targeted causes, we can effect a significant change in 30 minutes per day. If we instead provide broad, unfocused supports that do not address the underlying causes of difficulties, much more time per day will likely be required. Again, this is validated by the research (Burns & Gibbons, 2008; Burns, VanDerHeyden, & Boice, 2008). We (schools, staffs, and students) simply do not have time within the school to spare. And, students surely do not have time within their learning journeys; gaps must be addressed, ameliorated, and /or sustainable work-around plans must be identified and practiced immediately.

 

If we find that students are not responding to the interventions that we are using, we suggest that we do not simply seek a new intervention; we may need to better identify the causes of student difficulties and better match a support to the diagnosed antecedent skill. This process may be iterative and we will not always be right the first time. But we never give up. In fact, we expect that we will learn quite a bit about the underlying causes of student difficulties through the very act of prescribing and providing an intervention.

 

A few more notes on prescribing targeted interventions: Several colleagues have lamented that they cannot provide all of the supports to meet all of the deficits in foundational skills with which a student may currently be working to overcome. We get it. The constraints on time (not to mention staff) will make providing multiple, intensive, highly-specialized supports in a day difficult if not impossible. However, here’s a contrarian point of view to consider: We may not need to provide multiple intensive supports. Instead, let’s identify the students most immediate area of need and intensively focus on that area:

 

  • Students who experience more academic success behave better.
  • Students who develop more positive and productive behavioral skills are better prepared to learn academic skills.
  • Students who read more accurately and fluently comprehend better.
  • Students who comprehend better and make better meaning of what they read tend to perform better in all academic areas: mathematics, social studies, sciences, and writing.

 

Secondly, our colleagues often lament that they do not have the right resources to provide interventions. We will address this further later in the chapter; a few resources that we have created and found to be productive for a very common and critical area of need, comprehension, is available online.

 

We cannot express this point often enough: The best intervention is a targeted intervention. We believe that interventions would dramatically and immediately improve if educators focused with laser-like intensity on specific foundational skills, because those skills were deemed to be the underlying causes that explain the symptomatic difficulties that the students were experiencing and that staffs were observing.

We never give up; we never stop providing intensive supports for our most vulnerable students – not until we have found the right support, until the student is adequately responding, and until we have ultimately closed the gap. Even if and when an eligibility determination is made, and the student receives special education supports, we continue to provide and adjust intervention supports until success is achieved. It’s inevitable.

Assessment as evidence-gathering

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Assessment has become perhaps the most controversial issue within schools. We understand – the resistance exhibited by frustrated educators was inevitable when:

  • The content, critical thinking, and problem-solving that we strive to include within our classrooms is not matched in assessments.
  • The ways in which we expect students to demonstrate mastery in the classroom is not matched in assessments.
  • The roll-out of new assessments from national, state, and district leaders has been less than respectful, collaborative, inclusive, or clearly explained.
  • Assessments are used for high-stakes purposes (student and staff evaluation) that are supported by neither research nor common sense.

And yet, we must assess student progress. We must gather evidence regarding the efficacy of our efforts, we must use evidence to inform future teaching and learning, and students must be involved in assessing their performance and take increased ownership over their learning. 

Effective use of formative assessment, developed through teacher learning communities, promises not only the largest potential gains in students’ achievement but also a process for affordable teacher professional development.

Wiliam & Thompson, 2007, p. 57

Evidence is the engine that drives learning. We must take-back and take control of assessment. Evidence gathering must be a central element of collaborative systems of support.

Reviews of accountability data from hundreds of schools reveal the schools with the greatest gains in achievement consistently employ common assessments, nonfiction writing, and collaborative scoring by faculty.

Reeves, 2004

It’s not enough for staff to simply assess and gather evidence as individuals. Common assessments, used to inform teaching and learning must be our goal. 

Assessment for learning…when done well…is one of the most powerful, high-leverage strategies for improving student learning that we know of. Educators collectively at the district and school levels become more skilled and focused at assessing, disaggregating, and using student achievement as a tool for ongoing improvement.

Fullan, 2005, p. 71

If we do not have common evidence gathering opportunities scheduled at common times, we cannot:

  • Collaboratively design effective tasks
  • Collectively analyze student work to determine students and staffs’ relative strengths and needs
  • Ensure continuity of expectations, both horizontally within a grade level or course and vertically within adjacent grade levels and courses

We propose a new model of education, in which teaching and learning cycles are iteratively informed by frequent evidence gathering opportunities – cycles in which both teachers and students play an active role. We acknowledge that we all struggle with a perplexing paradox: there is a perception that we assess too much and a simultaneous desire for more information to strategically inform supports for students. To resolve this paradox, we recommend that we commit to the following:

  • Evidence that emerges from any and all assessments that are administered is used by teachers (and ideally, students) to inform future learning. We do not administer assessments solely to determine a grade, to earn points, or to rank and sort (teachers or students). This is necessitate the timely availability of evidence.
  • We inventory the tests and assessments that we administer to check for gaps and redundancies in the following areas (with a commitment to add or subtract as appropriate):
    • We frequently, proactively, and efficiently screen to identify students with significant deficits in the foundational areas of literacy, numeracy, and behavior so that intensive, ameliorative interventions can be provided.
    • We assess student mastery of the prioritized skills of a grade level or course at depth, so that we can provide feedback, we can provide more time and alternative strategies when students have not yet demonstrated mastery, and we can provide opportunities involving more depth and complexity when students have demonstrated mastery.
    • We diagnose students’ specific needs when difficulties are identified.
    • We frequently monitor the progress of vulnerable students who are receiving targeted supplemental supports. 

Well-designed assessment practices are an absolutely integral element of a collaborative system of support. 

Studies have demonstrated assessments for learning rivals one-on-one tutoring in its effectiveness and that the use of assessment particularly benefits low-achieving students.

Stiggins, 2004, p. 27

Simply stated, we cannot fulfill our professional obligations in the absence of evidence. Only by frequently, accurately, and efficiently checking for understanding can we meet all students’ needs and ensure that they are future-ready. 

One mark of schools that make headway on the achievement gap appears to be their propensity to promote and organize conversations based on evidence of student progress.

Little, 2006, p. 10

Collaborative systems of support will not be sustained or successful if we do not collectively determine the extent to which all students are responding to instruction and intervention. We must design organized systems of gathering, analyzing, and employing evidence to drive teaching and learning.