10:30 to 11:45 Content – Systems-Level Content Development: Establishing Learning Progressions

Learning progressions are defined as the vertical articulation of concepts. They describe a progression of knowledge for students in mathematics. A learning progression contains: target learning goals, progress variables that are developed over time, intermediate levels of achievement that progress toward mastery, learning performances at each level, and assessments that measure student development. The levels of the learning progressions should be defined. When they are, we ask ourselves: Where do students start and where are we trying to get them?

The goal of MSTAR is to build off the universal screener for middle school mathematics. A diagnostic assessment for struggling learners was developed. This will enable us to better understand why students struggle, not what they are struggling with. MStar has added reportable outcomes of key concepts to learning progressions.

Discussion questions: How would this information be useful at the classroom level? At the campus level? At the district level?

Discussion answers:
  • Classroom level: being able to identify specific areas of intervention; puts a bigger picture (teachers forget a concept is hard or misunderstood by many – not just my kids idea); if you look at this as a pre-assessment – skills that may not need to be retaught and spend valuable on other concepts (efficiency);
  • Campus level: Vertical teams; collaboration with grade level; direction to take with professional development (what to spend time on);
  • District level: provides opportunities for what we need in curriculum (helps provide sound curriculum); identifies where we can add professional development; materials (textbook?) selection – sometimes materials may reinforce misunderstandings; funding decision making – where will it be the most helpful? At a certain grade level? Do we insert before/after it happens?

10:30 to 11:45 Assessment – Using Data to Improve Teaching & Learning: Practical Approaches

Dr. Ketterlin-Geller provided a framework for using data to guide educational decisions, change educational practice, and build capacity in teachers. She structured her presentation around the How, What, and Why of using data to enhance educational decisions and practice. Within the How and What sections she showed a way in which data supports an ongoing cycle of instructional improvement. This cycle consists of identifying students in need of extra educational support through screeners, gathering more detailed information on these students’ misconceptions through diagnostic assessments, analyzing this data to make informed data-based decisions, and then evaluating the results of these decisions through ongoing monitoring. She concluded by providing the Why behind using data to guide educational decisions. She presented evidence to show enhanced student achievement for low achieving and special education children when teachers and students used data. The cited meta-analyses howed effect sizes for using data ranging from 0.32 to 0.57.

Dr. Black, principal at Charles M. Blalack Middle School in Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD, testifies to the significant increase in academic achievement associated with the use of data. In his tenure he witnessed the percentage of students in his school receiving free and reduced lunch increase from 10 to 40 percent. Simultaneously he witnessed his school increase math achievement across all students and by as much as 20 percent in some sub populations. He attributes much of this success to the implementation of three primary initiatives: instituting a professional development period for teachers, implementing the instructional improvement process, and implementing instructional rounds. His presentation provided a clear method for using data to drive increased academic achievement.

1:15 to 2:30 Elementary School - Instructional Design Considerations for Differentiation for Intervention & Extension

This session was presented by and Ms. Kathy Jungjohann and Dr. Diane Pedrotty Bryant.

Ms. Jungjohann’s presentation focused on evidence based strategies and best practice instructional designs for struggling students. Two evidence based practice guides were introduced to the audience for instructional design and a systematic approach to assist struggling students. Participants were exposed to specific math content to aide in providing interventions. Selected recommendations from the IES Practice Guide of Assisting Students Struggling with Mathematics: Response to intervention for Elementary and Middle Schools were presented. Participants learned how to select intervention materials, explicit and systematic instruction and RtI strategies such as teach word problem structures, and how to use visual representations and practices for math facts.

Dr. Bryant’s presentation focused on the potential challenges in implementing interventions for at-risk students with mathematics difficulties and recommendations that address those challenges in the IES Practice Guide of Assisting Students Struggling with Mathematics: Response to intervention for Elementary and Middle Schools. Dr. Bryant explored the challenges and provided recommendations to the participants. The challenges focused on efficiency in screening all students to identify risk status, instructional materials align with district timeline, instructional delivery components, scheduling and grouping for interventions. She also has provided multiple online resources for participants to use within their classroom.

1:15 to 2:30 Middle School – Instructional Design Considerations for Differentiation for Intervention & Extension

Dr. Sharon Benson, director of Mathematics Services at Region 4 Educational Service Center, and Dr. Lindy Crawford, associate professor of special education at TCU, presented on "Middle School Instructional Design Considerations for Differentiation for Intervention and Extension."

Dr. Benson focused on Tier 1 strategies that help students walk through the door of success with mathematics. She highlighted extension strategies, such as providing contextual applications, offering a deeper look into the structure of mathematics, and considering exceptional talent. Additionally, Dr. Benson discussed intervention strategies, such as pre-teaching vocabulary, making mathematics explicit, modeling and providing students with feedback, and providing students with adequate opportunities to practice. These strategies were modeled by investigating a sample mathematics task.

Dr. Lindy Crawford presented on Tier 2 and Tier 3 strategies, focusing her recommendations on ones outlined in the IES Practice Guides Developing Effective Fractions Instruction for Kindergarten Through 8th Grade and Assisting Students Struggling with Mathematics: Response to Intervention (RtI) for Elementary and Middle Schools. She highlighted the importance of progress monitoring and showed a variety of different graphical representations of student data that might be helpful in monitoring students' progress. She also stressed the importance of teaching mathematics at the conceptual level in Tiers 2 and 3. Additionally, she discussed multiple free, online resources for teachers to use with their students.