post on the League of Education Voters report card on public schools in our state. I received one comment from Stacy that I want to pursue. In response to her question asking if I was surprised by the report; no it was not a surprise. What was of more interest to me was the following part of her comment.
Actually, we already know this research, yet we DON'T follow the advice. For years I know primary teachers have been saying to help the kids BEFORE third grade, yet most of the interventions happen AFTER third grade. WHY? Why the "flooding" before the test in 4th grade and then those SAME students are left to flounder on the 5th grade test.
Why? We, like many districts, were influenced by the 4th grade WASL when that was the ONLY public score out there for elementary schools. This influence resulted in the focus on interventions to support more students in meeting standard on that test and it has worked for us. We have not, however, found ways to continue the same level of support that many of these students need in subsequent years. Had the first WASL been at grade 1 we would have seen the interventions at that grade level.
I am seeing a shift in our behavior about this issue though in baby steps. One example is the walk to read program in the early grades at multiple elementary schools. This model is designed to provide more intensive support for struggling readers and the data suggests that it is working. Another example is the use of the small amount of intervention money provided to support interventions no longer being used just for grade 4 students. Perhaps the biggest shift will come with the goal I have for principals and that the board has for me to ensure positive growth on the State Board’s Accountability Index. The focus can no longer be on just those students close to meeting standard because this index demands growth for ALL students.
If you follow my blog, you might know that I don’t do a lot of complaining about money. In this case, however, I must say that to support all students at meeting standard will require more revenue, revenue that we have not had for students in multiple grades and in four schools. For success, we must find ways for intensive support in early grades for struggling students in literacy and math. Though additional revenue is necessary, money alone will not result in success for all students. It will require adaptive solutions to how we structure school for these kids and how adults interact with them. It demands that we examine the beliefs that drive our behavior, because right now as Stacy suggests, our behavior is not aligned with the research.
Thanks Stacy, for pushing me to be more reflective about our current reality as it relates to early learning. Creating adaptive change is difficult. It requires understanding of our current reality, our goals for the students, teachers, administrators, and schools, and a vision based on research of how to close the gap between the current reality and goals. Where will these conversations begin? Where should they begin? Where is the influence for adaptive change? We don’t need money for these conversations, but it will become a significant part of the conversation when we make decisions about our ability to implement any proposed adaptive solutions.