Located in northern Oakland County, about 40 miles northwest of Detroit, Oxford Community Schools (OCS) serves a suburban community that extends across five townships and two villages. OCS prides itself on being the only PreK through 12 IB Authorized World School District in Michigan.
Currently, all school districts in Michigan are awaiting enforcement of the ‘Read by Grade Three’ law, which requires that students be proficient readers by the end of third grade or risk being held back. Children entering third grade in 2019-20 will be the first group of students affected by the new law.
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This law came about in response to poor statewide results on the state’s 2015-16 M-STEP reading assessment, where less than half of Michigan third graders earned a passing score.
Every summer, the news is filled with stories about summer learning loss. The warnings sound dire: two months of math learning lost for most students every summer, and two to three months of reading learning lost for low-income students, according to the National Summer Learning Association. By the ninth grade, “summer learning loss during elementary school accounts for two-thirds of the achievement gap in reading between low-income children and their middle-income peers,” the association says.
There can be no doubt about it: as American children lounge poolside, watch too much television, and play too many video games, most are forgetting what they learned in school last year, and low-income students are falling even further behind.
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It sounds plausible. But how reliable are these claims? How many of these findings can be replicated? Is summer learning loss really a thing?
The chorus singing the praises of data in education has been ever-present for years now, but it’s not always clear how educators can effectively put that data to use. Should we be using data to solve problems at the individual student level, the school level, or district level?
And in the final analysis, how can the constant steam of data we’re faced with help us improve teaching and learning? In our experience, the right can help solve a variety of issues, from improving student literacy to helping school leaders make better-informed purchasing decisions.
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As a reading intervention specialist at Franklin Local School District, I rely on actionable data from one of my most indispensable tools, Renaissance Star Reading, to differentiate learning and help students boost their reading ability and achievement scores.