2012 SCORE Prize Winners: Ensuring Excellent Teaching (excerpts) - Page 7

The assistants often go beyond work in the classroom by engaging with parents. “[The assistants] are always willing to come and sit during our parent conferences,” one teacher said. “When a parent makes a comment, they can say, ‘Well, I’ve been to your room and I’ve seen this.’ They’ve got your back.” The third intervention tier is used specifically to support special education students. Parents are brought into the process early to help identify the best possible interventions. Parents say they are well-informed about the RTI program and that the school handles remediation very well, with students feeling no negative effects of being identified for further assistance. A parent, writing to the school to express gratitude for its work with her child who has attention deficit disorder, wrote: “I have watched your teachers, your staff, and the countless families and there is no lower standard given here. Regardless of a child’s racial background or a family’s financial standing, everyone is treated the same- with absolute care, concern and gratitude that your child is here. I could not have found a better educational setting for a child if I had made it myself.” John Sevier Elementary presents learning opportunities beyond the school day, primarily through clubs and various fun educational events. For example, Community Connections program helps students connect to the “outside” world by learning about water safety, taking field trips to the East Tennessee Discovery Center, and creating extracurricular events to help students learn about butterflies, managing savings, and staying in school. The school’s chess club meets twice a week, and the school’s running club has more than 150 students who often run with their parents. Other enrichment activities include short-term camps centered on technology and supports, as well as an afterschool program called Mind Stretchers that offers enrichment or remediation based on individual student needs. Additionally, the school offers intersession classes for students during scheduled breaks between grading periods. 19 Pathways to the Prize Lessons from the 2012 SCORE Prize School Winners USING DATA TO ENHANCE STUDENT LEARNING John Sevier Elementary administers a comprehensive set of assessments so that teachers know what students have learned and retained over time. Video: “Using Data to Enhance Student Learning” (1:49) http://tnscore.org/scoreprize/lessonsschools_elem2012.php Formative assessment. Every day, most teachers administer exit tickets as a method of formative assessment to determine where students need additional help. The tickets can be simple written notes where students identify what they learned during the lesson and what they still need help with. Exit tickets can also present a more complex challenge. For example, an exit ticket given to students after a lesson on the energy pyramid asked students to consider what would happen if a new type of herbivore was introduced into the ecosystem that forced the existing frogs to compete for grasshoppers. Some assessments use creative approaches, such as formative writing samples that take advantage of “pinch cards.” Teachers write sentences with incorrect punctuation and post them on the interactive white board. Students “pinch” the card to indicate the type of sentence (declarative, interrogative, exclamatory, imperative), then justify their answers and add correct punctuation marks. Math assessments ask students to solve problems using multiple types of processes so that the students learn many ways to demonstrate their knowledge and check the accuracy of the work. Summative, interim, and diagnostic assessments. John Sevier Elementary administers benchmark and summative assessments in addition to the formative and classroom assessments mentioned above. Several—such as the STAR Reading and Math tests and Brigance—serve diagnostic and progress monitoring purposes. The benchmark assessments are