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Embed code for: MPA Competency 1
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Ability to use assessment data to identify weaknesses and recommend strategies for improving student performance.
COMPETENCY 1: ACCOUNTABILITY
Related Task 1.1
Ability to interpret meaning of various standardized tests to boards, teachers and lay citizens.
Specific Task 1.1.3
Narrative Description of Specific Task:
Serve on a Math subcommittee which is preparing for review of the Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP) results. This is a standardized test put forth by the State of Michigan in compliance with No Child Left Behind in order to hold public schools more accountable for their educational practices. The majority of this data is on 3rd -11th grades test score for Math, Social Studies, Language Arts and Science.
Assist in the formulation of the report which will be submitted to the School Improvement Committee, Director, and School Board for initial review. I will assist in compiling the data, finalizing the wording to be used, and producing the final report which will be sent to the Sabis Educational Management, our management company.
Narrative Description of Goals
Active participant in committee, helping committee chair lead in completing our plan
I will attend 3 after school meetings
The school improvement plan will be finished by May 2010
Collecting staff input and finding solutions to problems helps the school
By April 2010 I will attend 3 Math subcommittee school improvement meetings
Competency 1: Accountability
School Improvement Math Sub-Committee
As a member of the math sub-committee of the school improvement plan, I am directly involved in the school improvement process. A school improvement plan provides the steps to be taken to increase student achievement in accordance with state and federal adequate yearly progress (AYP) requirements in a subject area. Our state’s AYP mechanism is the Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP). Our path to success lies in prescribing action strategies, resources, and monitoring indicators of success. We document these factors as well as those who are responsible for the accountability and performance measures.
Timeline and Context
The math sub-committee consists of seven teachers from kindergarten through twelve grades. It is chaired by Dan Chisholm, 4th grade math and science teacher. Beginning in January 2010, we met to review changes in our school improvement plan from the previous year.
Various manipulatives and supplemental materials were received for kindergarten through third grades, and orders went out for the remaining grades in January. The sub-committee identified a number of problems regarding the use and storage of the material. The discussion of possible solutions was tabled until investigations could solve the problems with various plans of action. Two possible solutions were to be investigated. First, ask Academic Quality Controllers (AQC’s) if they could store and check out materials. Second, we would have a math teacher from each grade be in charge of storage for grade specific materials. Storage for classroom sets, such as, Hands-On Equations and Algae-Blocks was determined to be kept in their respective teachers classrooms as those materials would not be shared.
We also discussed the various technology and math software that was part of our school improvement plan. I volunteered to gather research on technology in the classroom, and its effectiveness. I was placed in charge of investigating the use of the Accelerated Reader Math application. Our school uses Accelerated Reader as a successful part of our reading school improvement plan. So, the addition of an Accelerated Reader Math program may have a similar effect. Additionally, the sub-committee discussed the installation and implementation of a software program from Lakeshore, an educational products company. The program would allow teachers to create their own practice worksheets, and it would assist the teachers in preparing for our state audit in February. The system was recommended by members of the committee after testing other competitors. Personally, I was against spending funds on a system that could be replicated through other free technology tools, but I do see the value in time savings for teachers.
February was spent in preparation for the state audit. Information was distributed via e-mail to the staff about the programs we were implementing with the grant money, such as afterschool tutoring, educational software, and grade specific manipulatives. We stressed that these strategies were research based, and we provided staff with websites and links about the products and findings. I presented more research in the form of links that I had gathered about technology in classroom mathematics. Mr. Chisholm used it to supplement the school improvement plan.
In March, we continued the discussion about storage, as we had no storage containers or cabinets for the materials that could not be stored in individual classrooms. We voted to allocate funds for storage containers, and approved a sign out procedure with the Academic Quality Control (AQC) for school manipulatives. Feedback on the new manipulatives (Hands-On Equations and Algae-Blocks) was mixed. Teachers agreed that it helped reinforce the concept for some students, but had also seen confusion for students that had previously understood algebra. There were also mixed thoughts regarding whether those students that had not previously understood the concepts understood them after using the manipulatives. Ultimately, the sub-committee agreed that these manipulatives might work better if they are used first to introduce the topics, instead of as a supplement after learning the concepts.
Technologically, there were some ups and downs. Lakeshore software still needed to be installed on the teachers’ computers, but vocabulary software was available for checkout. As part of my professional development plan, I attended the Michigan Association of Computer Users in Learning (MACUL) convention. I spoke with Renaissance Learning about Accelerated Reader Math, and received some free training and materials at the conference. I presented the information to the committee, and it was approved.
Reports from our state audit were positive. We provided quality documentation on the steps we were taking for school improvement in math. Research supported our strategies with manipulatives, technology, and after-school tutoring. Lastly, staff was very knowledgeable about our school improvement plan for mathematics and could identify how those steps were aiding achievement in their classes. The one constructive criticism we received was regarding our parental participation. Evaluators from the state felt that there needed to be more parental involvement.
Accountability is taking responsibility for your actions while maintaining transparency. School improvement is necessary. The school improvement plan details in writing the steps our school is taking to increase achievement in the area of mathematics. These steps are based on sound research and not just anecdotes and theories.
If we demand continual improvement for ourselves, then we must demand it of our students. The process of forming a team for creation, administration, and evaluation of a plan is a “best practice” of effective leaders. Teamwork ensures that projects are more well-rounded and complete than if a single person produced the project. All the teachers in this committee were math teachers, so their perspectives were skewed towards math ideas.
In hindsight, it would seem beneficial to have other stakeholders present in these math sub-committee meetings. The presence of special education para-professions, after-school math tutors, and intervention specialists would help create a well-rounded opinion of the math school improvement plan’s strengths and weaknesses. Also, all the teachers on the math sub-committee were math majors or minors. It is my belief that it would help to have more early elementary math teachers and secondary science teachers present to talk about challenging areas as it relates to their observations in class.
As we looked at the State’s recommendations for more parental participation, we discussed having a Math Night and having teachers post videos to their websites that would show the in-class practice for parents to view anywhere. With regards to the school Math Night, we had funded previous ventures in years past and found them to be very costly with little participation. I remembered a Math Games Night that I had done in my undergraduate degree at the University of Michigan-Flint and recommended looking into whether that was a possibility now. We would still have to provide some light refreshments, but maybe we could cut some of the costs from previous years by not having a full meal and by not having to pay a private company to come in with games for sale or buy games for each of the teacher volunteers at the event. These cuts in cost may lead to an even lighter turnout, but if held on a good night, we may get great attendance. These kinds of things can be hard to predict. I do believe that these kinds of changes are worth trying if they lead to positive results. ipulatives (Hands-On Equations and Algae-Blocks) was mixed. Teachers agreed that it helped reinforce the concept for some students, but had also seen confusion for students that had previously understood algebra. There were also mixed thoughts regarding whether those students that had not previously understood the concepts understood them after using the manipulatives. Ultimately, the sub-committee agreed that these manipulatives might work better if they are used first to introduce the topics, instead of as a supplement after learning the concepts.
In hindsight, it would seem beneficial to have other stakeholders present in these math sub-committee meetings. The presence of special education para-professions, after-school math tutors, and intervention specialists would help create a well-rounded opinion of the math school improvement plan’s strengths and weaknesses. Also, all the teachers on the math sub-committee were math majors or minors. It is my belief that it would help to have more early elementary math teachers and secondary science teachers present to talk about challenging areas as it relates