FOSTER, RI | GRADES PK-5 | 265 STUDENTS | 31 TEACHERS
CIP is focusing on three tenets of PL, building on their existing work:
Learner Profiles: In order to know students as learners and individuals, teachers began collecting information about students’ academic abilities and progress, learning styles and needs, and interests on digital Personalized Learning Plans (PLPs). This information is used to create lessons and activities, as well as a positive digital footprint for students as each creates an online portfolio showcasing their work and progress.
Mastery-Based Progression: CIP set out to clearly define power literacy and math standards and what mastery looks like at each grade level for these standards, as well as for the school’s ‘Habits for Success.’ They are working to create a system for teachers to use with their students that allows them to move on or go more deeply into skills and standards.
Authentic/Applied Learning: Using project-based elective courses, all students have the opportunity to engage in a range of authentic learning experiences and time to explore and deeply study their personal areas of interest. Additionally, teachers replaced some of their traditional units of study with design units involving critical thinking, problem-solving, and real world application of student learning.
Progress to Date
On the annual state culture and climate survey, SurveyWorks, Paine students reported mixed responses for questions about student engagement. However, when asked, “When you are not in school, how often do you talk about ideas from your classes,” students reported an increase of 23% to 32% of favorable responses from Spring 2017 to Spring 2018, a 9-percentage point increase. Staff attribute this to the implementation of elective classes and project-based learning for SY2017-18. This increase was statistically significant for third grade respondents in particular.
In response to questions about faculty perceptions of professional strengths and areas for growth on the state SurveyWorks administration, teachers at Paine reported a statistically significant 15-percentage point increase in favorable responses from Spring 2017 to Spring 2018. Teacher efficacy question items included:
How confident are you that you can engage students who typically are not motivated?
Through working at your school, how many new teaching strategies have you learned?
How often do your professional development opportunities help you explore new ideas?
Paine’s goal as a school is to have at least a 5% decrease in students below proficiency on local literacy and math assessments for each year as a Lighthouse School. From 2016-2017 to the end of Year 1, there was a 17% decrease in students below proficiency in math, and a 33% decrease on students below proficiency in reading.
Effect sizes across SY16-17 and SY17-18 also show statistically significant positive differences in student performance on the DRA literacy assessment, schoolwide as well as by gender and free or reduced price meal eligibility.
Lessons & Learnings
Building on a Culture of Change
Paine attributes much of their implementation success so far to their positive school culture, noting that the school culture is very welcoming of outside expertise and willing to accept assistance from others.
“You can write whatever you want about personalization and about kids going after competencies, but this is about an organizational change and if you don't have a school culture that will embrace collaboration and embrace change, you can throw them as much money as you want [and not effect change].” - CIP Administrator
Mastery Models for Elementary
Paine encountered challenges in getting assistance around mastery-based progressions for lack of many existing elementary-level models to use. They have spent substantial time and effort tweaking models and creating their own, and are now working with ReDesign to refine their mastery-based work for literacy and math.
Teachers at Paine were excited to have more authority and independence in implanting aspects of PL. One administrator noted how important it was that PL was not just about students having agency and choice, but also allowing teachers to feel empowered and have choices in their implementation:
“I think that the fact that they had choice is powerful and the fact that it was chosen within a range of options is also powerful.” - CIP administrator