Iredell-Statesville Schools Are Raising Achievement for Students with the Highest Needs

North Carolina’s Iredell-Statesville Schools (I-SS) are raising academic achievement amongst their high-needs students, English learners and students with disabilities. In 2010, I-SS received the $4.99 million Development grant through the U.S. Department of Education’s Investing in Innovation(i3) competition that is making this possible.

I-SS-5th-graders

In one of Iredell-Statesville’s elementary schools, (left to right) 5th-grade students Ashley, Sitaly, Jose, Jasiah, and Bobbie work together during their science intervention time to discover the meaning of “force.” (Photo courtesy of Jada Jonas and the Iredell-Statesville Schools)

Their plan, called COMPASS — the Collaborative Organizational Model to Promote Aligned Support Structures — focuses on aligning support structures for teachers, strengthening collaborations between educators in professional learning communities, analyzing student performance data, improving curricula and developing differentiated instruction to address individual needs and raise academic achievement. According to project director Sherrard Lewis, COMPASS has been “a unifying force — a glue — that brings the data usage, heightened curricular goals, and instructional improvements together.”

COMPASS was implemented in participating schools in three stages, the last of which began during the 2013-2014 school year. The first stage involved staff training and support. The second worked to improve and increase data use to inform teaching practices and curriculum creation.

“When teachers analyze and understand data, it helps them understand a child’s true potential,” Lewis said. The district created quarterly “Data Days,” which allow teachers to focus on student performance data and other measures to identify student needs and then select evidence-based interventions to help students reach specific, measurable goals.

Professional development workshops, managed by the I-SS i3 team, immediately follow the Data Days and are geared to help teachers meet their students’ needs.

One principal involved in the COMPASS program said, “One thing I really appreciated is that the support we’ve gotten this year has really been differentiated based upon the needs of our school … [the COMPASS team’s] support has been very unique and tailored to our schools and what our teachers need.”

Since these initial changes and training sessions, graduation rates have increased for several of the targeted groups. In 2010, for example, high-needs students were graduating at a rate of 65 percent. In 2012, that number had risen to 90.

I-SS will continue to build on this foundation with additional support from a $19.9 million dollar U.S. Department of Education Race to the Top-District grant for a new project called IMPACT — Innovative Methods for Personalizing Academics, Complemented by Technology. Their learner-centered model seeks to reinforce the strides that have already been made through COMPASS.

Cross-posted from the June 10, 2014, article by ED’s Office of Innovation and Improvement.

 

Colorado Expands Opportunities for Under-Represented Advanced Placement Students

Arvada High School Principal Kathy Norton and students hold the over-sized check the school received from the Colorado Education Initiative for outstanding A.P. course completion scores. Norton and the students are surrounded by various officials from the district, the State, and the Colorado Education Initiative.

Arvada High School Principal Kathy Norton (fourth from left) and students accept a check from the Colorado Education Initiative for outstanding A.P. course completion scores. Photo credit: Colorado Education Initiative

Across Colorado, high school students who previously would not have had the opportunity to enroll in Advanced Placement (A.P.) classes are not only enrolling, but also are earning passing scores in those classes.  “The best thing about A.P. classes is you get the prep for college and you get to learn so much more than you ever would have imagined in high school,” said Megan, a student at Arvada High School in Jefferson County. “It expands your mind to places you never thought it could go.”

Responding to disparities in A.P. enrollment across the State, the Colorado Education Initiative (CEI) is engaging with 23 high schools to increase the number and diversity of students taking and passing A.P. mathematics, science, and English classes to ensure that more students like Megan are better prepared for postsecondary education.  CEI’s program, called the Colorado Legacy Schools Initiative (CLSI), is driven by the philosophy that all students are capable of succeeding in rigorous courses.

CLSI’s strategy is already delivering dividends.  After only the first year, participating schools had already seen improvement: in 2012-2013, many CLSI schools showed a 70-percent increase in the number of students who earned a passing score on the mathematics, science, and English A.P. exams.  “These outstanding results equate to 522 new high school students who have had the opportunity to participate and succeed in rigorous A.P. coursework” stated Helayne Jones, president and CEO of the CEI. This includes the students at Arvada High, whose 95-percent growth in passing A.P. scores was more than 10 times the state and national average in 2013.

CLSI benefits from a partnership with the National Mathematics and Science Initiative (NMSI), which uses part of its $15 million Department of Education Investing in Innovation (i3) grant to fund the program.

Click here to read the full article on the OII home page.

More Students Challenging Themselves by Taking AP Classes

States across the country join Colorado in preparing more students to be ready for college or other advanced training after high school by promoting the Advanced Placement (AP) program.  Over the past decade nationally, the number of high school graduates who took AP classes nearly doubled, according to the College Board.   The below graphic shows how Race to the Top States have responded to the charge to prepare students by increasing access and success in AP classes.  Students in Colorado took 16.4% more exams in 2013 than they did in 2011, and are posting 15.7% more qualifying scores on exams in the same time period.  To learn more about strategies other States are using to increase college and career preparation, read about how Kentucky students are taking more AP classes and posting more qualifying scores on the exams here. The College Board offers 34 different AP classes.

The text across the top reads: The Advanced Placement program is one way to ensure that more students gain access to challenging courses that prepare them to think, solve problems, write and master what the global job market demands. The box on the top is titled: Participation Rates in Race to the Top States. The box includes several statistics. Students took 1.8 million AP exams in 2013, an increase of 13.2% since 2011. The gains since 2011 include an additional 71,388 exams taken in mathematics and science (an increase of 12.9%); an additional 135,954 exams taken in English, history, and social science (an increase of 11.9%); and an additional 10,409 exams taken in arts and world languages (an increase of 8.7%). The box also includes a map of the United States with the States that received Race to the Top funds highlighted. Participation rates in Louisiana rose 60.3% since 2011, the biggest gain of any State. Participation rates increased in other Race to the Top States: 14.6% increase in Hawaii, 23.6% increase in Arizona, 16.4% increase in Colorado 21.0% increase in Illinois, 19.7% increase in Kentucky, 17.1% increase in Tennessee, 17.3% increase in Georgia, 5.7% increase in Florida, 15.9% increase in Ohio, 14.1% increase in North Carolina, 14.8% in Pennsylvania, 7.4% increase in New York, 10.9% increase in Maryland, 24.6% increase in the District of Columbia, 19.1% increase in Delaware, 16.5% increase in New Jersey, 18.7% increase in Massachusetts, and 24.0% increase in Rhode Island. The box on the bottom is titled: Qualifying Scores in Race to the Top States. The box includes several statistics. Students scored 3 or higher (qualifying for college credit) on 1.1 million AP exams in 2013, an increase of 16.1% since 2011. The gains since 2011 include an additional 63,113 qualifying scores in mathematics and science (an increase of 18.2%); an additional 75,790 qualifying scores in English, history, and social science (an increase of 11.4%); and an additional 13,230 qualifying scores in arts and world languages (an increase of 15.4%). The box also includes a map of the United States with the States that received Race to the Top funds highlighted. Qualifying scores in Louisiana rose 35.1% since 2011, the biggest gain of any State. Qualifying scores increased in other Race to the Top States: 4.7% increase in Hawaii, 24.2% increase in Arizona, 15.7% increase in Colorado, 20.5% increase in Illinois, 25.0% increase in Kentucky, 19.2% increase in Tennessee, 19.3% increase in Georgia, 13.5% increase in Florida, 18.6% increase in Ohio, 14.1% increase in North Carolina, 18.3% in Pennsylvania, 9.9% increase in New York, 13.4% increase in Maryland, 15.9% increase in the District of Columbia, 17.2% increase in Delaware, 17.0% increase in New Jersey, 18.8% increase in Massachusetts, and 18.8% increase in Rhode Island. At the bottom of the image there is a note: This graphic has been updated from a previous version. Updated on May 23, 2014. The source is also given: http://research.collegeboard.org/programs/ap/data.

NYC Teachers and Students Take the Lead in Design of Innovative Education Solutions

A New York student, parent and software developer look at a laptop to view data on high school choice available through the School Choice Design Challenge.

A New York student, parent and software developer view data on high school choice available through the School Choice Design Challenge. Photo credit: Innovate NYC Schools

Innovate NYC Schools, a 2011 i3 Development grantee, is working to validate a different approach to achieve innovative answers to longstanding needs of students and teachers.  This approach emphasizes using technology to increase the degree of alignment between classroom needs and innovative solutions, and making students and teachers integral to the change process.

For example, in one undertaking for Innovate NYC Schools last year, the challenge was to develop apps and games to enhance math learning and engagement for middle school students. They invited developers to work directly with teachers and students to develop prototypes — a design-inspired, iterative process of refining ideas in order to end up with products that truly meet classroom needs. Surprisingly, nearly 200 software developers responded to the challenge, from which 39 were chosen to work with teachers and students who volunteered to be part of the product-development, prototyping process.

It is radically different from the typical procurement process in school systems, notes Steven Hodas, executive director of Innovate NYC Schools, and energizes potential “lead users” of new products and services in the schools — the teachers who volunteered their classrooms — to come “off the sidelines“ to contribute their ideas and be a part of developing the answers to their own needs. It gives them the “context and cover,” Hodas contends, to get involved and invested as opposed to staying outside the solution-finding process and assuming that whatever eventually arrives will be of minimal or no use to them.

The project is furthering the development and evaluation of the “Education Innovation Ecosystem,” a network of NYC schools, partner districts, solution developers, and investors that is helping to meet the STEM-related learning challenges of middle and high school students.  And the potential for scaling up an ecosystem approach that better aligns classroom needs with innovative solutions holds great promise for other urban school systems.

Click here to read the full article on the OII home page.