School sees massive literacy boost thanks to new assessment attitude

At the beginning of the 2016-17 school year, 82 percent of Morgen Owings Elementary School’s students were working below grade level. Now, six months later, just 40 percent are working below grade level. We have work to do, but shifting our mindset regarding assessment has made a huge impact.

We all know the purpose of assessment/testing is to gather information that will lead to improved instruction and learning. And I’m quite certain we all agree–that in some form or fashion it’s absolutely essential. But deciding which measure can and should be used to gather data for each area of elementary literacy can sometimes be daunting for administrators.

With only so many hours in a day, and days in a week how do we decide which assessments we need? Do we just test students in timed intervals–once a week, a month, a quarter? Analyze student work samples? Observe students performing literacy tasks or interview students on their readings skills? Do we administer all of these methods to collect data? How do you choose the best method for measuring reading progress?…Read More

How media literacy is critical to saving our democracy

[Editor’s note: This post by Alan November, written exclusively for eSchool Media, is part of a series of upcoming articles by this notable education thought leader. Check back on Monday, January 23rd for the next must-read post!]

“At present, we worry that democracy is threatened by the ease at which disinformation about civic issues is allowed to spread and flourish. … If the children are the future, the future might be very ill-informed.” —Stanford History Education Group, 2016.

The fact that 80 percent of middle school students in a recent study could not distinguish between fake news and authentic news on the web shows that we, as educators, have to do a better job of teaching media literacy in the digital age. That means paying just as much attention to teaching students how to be smart consumers of information as we pay to what we filter in our schools.…Read More

These 7 keys are helping one district better prepare its students

In any given third-grade classroom, you can find a student who is reading at a level far beyond their age, and another who is still working on letter recognition. How does a traditional classroom teacher with 25-30 kids manage such a wide range of students? As a district leader, how do I support our teachers and ensure that they are challenging students who are at a higher level while providing struggling students with proper support?

These are the tough questions I asked myself when taking over as superintendent of Maury County Schools in Tennessee in August 2015. Within the first few months, we ditched the old literacy model to adopt a project-based focus; deployed instructional coaches (without hiring anyone); and launched a top-down, district-level approach that quickly gained bottom-up buy-in through school and community support. We also implemented a differentiated literacy program and digital library that measures reading with reading—not quiz scores and points.

Creating the Keys to Success

In my first days as superintendent, I did what I called a “22in22 Tour” where I traveled to all 22 schools in my district in 22 days. I know from experience that the best leaders are the best listeners, so I made sure to take the time to hear what school leaders and classroom teachers had to say about Maury’s administrative approach. I heard loud and clear that there were issues of trust, lack of resources, switching initiatives on a dime, and a need for truly aligned and supportive professional development. That’s when I knew I had to eliminate the top-down approach that the district had taken in the past (and many districts employ) and go through a process to determine our Keys to Success.…Read More

Benchmark Education announces new early learning literacy intervention program

Literacy publisher Benchmark Education Company (BEC) announced a new literacy intervention program for grades K–2 in print format with online support. Spring Forward helps students build essential literacy skills through explicit strategy-based instruction.

The program provides teachers with everything they need to help struggling young readers accelerate progress in developing foundational skills, oral language, metacognition, vocabulary, fluency, comprehension, and writing. The program includes 228 new leveled books, with an equal number of fiction and non-fiction titles. BEC released its best-selling parallel intervention program in Spanish, Soluciones, last year.

Each Spring Forward grade-level purchase option consists of six copies each of 60 or more science and social studies leveled books organized into two-book sets. Each two-book set features a double-sided colorful poster companion and a Teacher’s Guide that provides week-by-week instruction. The two-book sets and posters provide opportunities to read across texts at each student’s instructional reading level to compare and contrast ideas, themes, story elements, and author’s craft elements.…Read More

Reading Horizons launches teacher platform to manage blended learning

Reading Horizons has introduced Reading Horizons Accelerate™, an educator platform designed to provide free resources for teachers and implementation support for Reading Horizons products in a blended learning environment.

The new Reading Horizons Accelerate platform fully integrates with and supports the digital curriculums for Reading Horizons Discovery® (K-3) and Reading Horizons Elevate® (Grades 4-12), making implementation simple, sustainable, and successful.

“Reading Horizons Accelerate is the next step in blended learning planning and instruction for educators using our literacy curriculum,” said Tyson Smith, the president and CEO of Reading Horizons. “We are dedicated to providing educators and students with the best possible solutions to increase literacy skills and reading comprehension. With clear and easy-to-follow lesson summaries, on-demand professional development resources, a lesson planning tool, and the addition of online forums, teachers can focus on teaching their students rather than spending hours on planning, tracking, and reporting.”…Read More

Arizona implements K-6 language development and literacy intervention for English learners

The Arizona Department of Education (ADE) is continually seeking effective ways to support educators as they work to help English language learners (ELLs) develop academic English fluency. Toward that end, the ADE, in cooperation with the Arizona State Board of Education, has embarked on an innovative, two-year pilot program to bring a technology-based language development and literacy intervention to ELLs in grades K-6.

Following a competitive bidding and review process, the State Board of Education has chosen to partner with Scientific Learning Corp. to implement the neuroscience-designed Build English Fast™ solution for this project to help ELLs accelerate their English language acquisition, and make fast and lasting gains in their language and reading skills.

Approximately 70,000 of Arizona’s K-12 students are ELLs. On the 2015 AzMERIT statewide benchmark exam, only 2 percent of ELLs passed the language arts section, and 6 percent passed the math section of the exam.…Read More

3 major ways to boost basic data literacy in K-16

A new report outlines the need for K-16 students to develop key data literacy skills

Focusing on three specific areas could be key to boosting K-16 students’ data literacy in a world where big data’s importance grows daily, according to a new report.

EDC’s Oceans of Data Institute (ODI) convened an expert panel of data analysts and educators for a workshop on data literacy, and panelists focused on what it means to be data literate in today’s world of big data, as well as what to teach students to prepare them to be part of today’s workforce and society.

The panelists’ recommendations are included in a new report, Building Global Interest in Data Literacy: A Dialogue.…Read More

App of the Week: Nonfiction reading for all levels

Ed. note: App of the Week picks are now being curated with help from Graphite by Common Sense Media. Click here to read the full app review.

Newsela

What’s It Like? Newsela is an online news-as-literacy platform that features current articles in seven categories: War & Peace, Science, Health, Kids, Money, Law, and Arts. Content is updated daily, with stories from a wide range of sources (from the Associated Press to Scientific American to the Washington Post) in both English and Spanish. On top of this, all articles are Common Core-aligned and available in five Lexile levels, ranging (roughly) from third to 12th grade. Each leveled text features a quiz tailored to that particular article plus a writing prompt that asks kids to write and respond to what they’ve read.

Price: Free/paid

Rating: 5/5…Read More

School Specialty unveils intervention program for low-level readers

Interactive intervention tool aims to engage learners in a digital classroom

According to the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress — the Nation’s Report Card — only about 35 percent of U.S. fourth and eighth graders perform at the “proficient” level in reading.

To help schools close the achievement gap with students performing significantly below grade level, EPS Literacy and Intervention, a division of School Specialty, announced the debut of iSPIRE, an interactive reading intervention program incorporates phonemic awareness, phonics, spelling, vocabulary, comprehension and fluency to accelerate literacy skill development for the lowest performing students in grades PreK-8.

iSPIRE is powered by Exploros, a streamlined online teaching platform designed to connect teachers to students in a digitally transformed classroom with the teacher at the center of mastery based instruction.…Read More