Elementary students scored particularly well in English
By Tamra Taylor, Superintendent Live Oak School District
Every successful organization needs to know what it is they are seeking to create and how they plan to accomplish their goals. An important element found in successful schools is the commitment to continuous improvement. In short you aim high, track your progress and make refinements in your actions and strategy as you go along. The decision regarding what metrics you will use to determine your distance from your goals is very important. We review multiple sources of data throughout the year for this purpose and use those data to create a plan of action aimed at improving student learning. In this review of academic progress I will only be addressing the State’s Annual assessment of achievement in math and English Language Arts for grades 3 – 8.
The results of the English Language Arts (ELA)/Literacy test were very positive with substantive growth in all grades levels except one. We were particularly pleased to see an 8% growth rate for our English Learners. All student groups in at the elementary level made growth. Fourth graders across the district exceeded their goal by almost double, exemplified by the 72% of Live Oak Elementary 4th graders who scored proficient or above. District-wide, English Learners in the 4th grade exceeded their goal three-fold. Fifth grade students also made substantive growth in ELA. We are very pleased to note that the percentage of English language learners in Live Oak School District scoring proficient on the state test is the highest in the County.
As mentioned earlier, it is important for organizations to monitor their progress and make refinements to better reach their goals. Thus for 2016-17, we’re expanding our focus on “accountable talk” and collaborative group work, which supports students’ oral language development. We’re maintaining our focus on writing through Writer’s Workshops at the elementary level and quarterly “all school writes” at the middle school. Teachers are increasing their focus on developing students who can read for information and draw conclusions based upon text evidence. Our instructional coaches support a professional development model that is based upon teacher inquiry and reflection.
The results of the State’s Math test also showed achievement growth but at a slower rate than English Language Arts. This is not surprising as the Common Core State Standards upon which these assessments are based are dramatically different than the former state math standards. All 4th grade student subgroups made growth with 73% of Live Oak Elementary 4th graders scoring proficient or above. As students move up in the middle grades we noted that the rate of growth slows down with the exception of our 8th graders. And again, the percentage of English Learners in Live Oak School District scoring proficient on the test is the highest in the County.
For the 2016-17 focus on math, we’ve purchased the interactive and adaptive IXL math program for use by students in all grades. We’ll continue with “lesson studies,” an in depth analysis of student learning that utilizes a cycle of inquiry and is guided by our instructional coaches. We’ve increased the number of teachers who participate in the Silicon Valley Mathematics Initiative, a comprehensive effort to improve mathematics instruction and student learning. And across the school day, we are expanding our encouragement of a “growth mindset” in our students. Our growth mindset goal involves developing the belief in our students that they can develop their intelligence as opposed to believing it’s fixed and out of their control.
We are very proud of our students for showing the growth that they did last year but also recognize the areas in which we need to improve. We believe the services we are providing to students will result in continued growth on the next round of State tests and look forward to sharing those results with the community next year.