Ms. Silvestre asked, what are we doing to improve math and literacy and what are we doing differently?

Question#: 37


At the elementary level, we continue shifting to Structured Literacy grounded in the Science of Reading research.  Schools are currently in semester 1 of making instructional changes that will align their practices to the research.  Teachers in Grades K–2 use Really Great Reading to provide explicit instruction in foundational skills.  The Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) assessment also provides teachers with additional information on how students are progressing in their early literacy development.  The data collected is used to determine additional support.  Lessons that align with the specific skills and needs students are demonstrating are provided.

We are working with school leaders in secondary literacy to elevate literacy skills across content areas. Six of our middle schools are piloting the research-based Promoting Adolescents’ Comprehension of Text practices, and professional learning is currently being provided to leaders in our other middle and high schools on these practices to inform a schoolwide literacy model.  Our work reflects the research on the impact of a schoolwide approach to literacy skills.  Additionally, we provide detailed guidance and direct support to schools on using multiple data sources to identify appropriate reading interventions for students who are not yet reading on grade level and need Tier 2 and Tier 3 support.  We also work with English Language Arts leaders to ensure students receive instruction that is aligned with grade-level standards and meet the needs of diverse learners. Part of this effort is collaborating with our colleagues in the Department of English Learners and Multilingual Education to provide professional learning and coaching on effective co-teaching to support emergent multilingual learners.

In elementary mathematics, the following actions are underway:

  • Strategic Curriculum Study: School-based math leaders have spent a significant portion of their professional learning meetings examining and engaging in practices to strengthen curriculum study in their schools. After systemwide training, the members of the elementary math team schedule time in schools with math leaders and grade-level teams to help them improve this practice.  This first step in planning is essential to ensure deep understanding on the part of the teachers. Teachers identify the content of the next module and to what degree students need to know and show their understanding. Establishing a practice of breaking down standards and comparing them to the assessments gives teachers a clear understanding of to what degree the standard will be taught at that time. Norms are established on each team to ensure preparedness and collaboration.
  • Expanding the use of Diagnostic Tools: As increasing numbers of teachers administer Eureka Math Equip pre-readiness diagnostics to students ahead of grade-level learning, learning gaps are more accurately and quickly identified.  Resources and guidance for using them are provided for integration into daily learning. For most students, solidifying the foundational learning will provide the access needed to move forward promptly.
  • Multi-Tiered Systems of Support: For students with greater learning needs or whose foundational knowledge is well-below the anticipated grade-level learning, the pre-readiness diagnostics, and the student growth reports, in Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) will help teachers identify the foundational learning students identified as Tier 2 will need. Using the structure of the materials in Eureka Math, teachers can back map the learning to pull aligned resources and integrate them into the interventions they provide for students. As an evidence-based product, Eureka Math is one effective tool for intervention. For students for whom this is still not enough, schools are using the iReady diagnostic and the iReady Teacher Toolkit to provide Tier 3 support during a designated time for an intervention. Intervention may not be substituted for grade-level instruction.

The following are actions the Secondary Math Team is taking this year to impact student achievement:

  • Leaders learning at the monthly Content Specialists/Resource Teacher meetings focus on instruction and coaching in real-time.
    • We started the year by engaging with the Performance Level Descriptors so that leaders understood the depth of the standards and varying proficiency levels. We followed up by supporting leaders to lead the learning back at the schools.
    • We are providing opportunities for leaders to engage in learning that is timely to their leadership and providing scenarios for math leaders to unpack with their colleagues.
      • Articulation practices and the inherent biases that can be in them
      • Grading for equity
      • Unpacking the progress check data
      • Moving from data analysis to action steps for learning to spiral back on standards not yet mastered.
  • Professional learning for teachers has changed from getting to know the curriculum to focusing on the current instruction state.  The new vendor professional learning sessions are as below.
    • Focus on Missed Instruction
    • Focus on Equity-Driven Teaching and Learning
    • Focus on Planning and Pacing
  • Shifting our learning from macro to micro. We offer fewer extensive sessions learning about the curriculum and more micro experiences for teachers. The team is strategic and focused on providing support directly to Professional Learning Community at the building around planning and instruction.
  • Assessments are written and include more input and flexibility from stakeholders.
    • Teachers
    • Math Leaders
    • English Language Development (ELD)
    • Special Education
  • Embedded ELD supports are put directly into the curriculum for those using Illustrative Mathematics Geometry for their multilingual students receiving ELD supports.