Thursday, January 25, 2007

Extended-Day for Students Not Meeting Standards

A district press release, New project helps students EXCEL with increased instruction time, says that:
About 900 students in extended-day classes are participating in a new program that will help them become better readers and mathematicians – while increasing their test-taking skills.

Following a low-hanging fruit strategy (i.e. going after the change/success that is easiest to achieve), the first students in the program will be 4th- and 7th-graders who just missed meeting the WASL standard last year. The program is taking place from January 16 to April 20.

A few interesting notes from the press release:

The classes are formal instruction hours taught by certified teachers and conducted beyond the school day. It is not a tutoring program.

Initially, this program will start with small groups of students. Class sizes will average about eight students per teacher. As teachers become more adept with the strategies and materials, they can adapt and use them more broadly in their classrooms.

The first quote interests me because it indicates teacher/union buy-in to the effort.

The second quote interests me because having only 8 students per class would help almost any teacher be more effective and almost any student learn more.

However, the last sentence in that quote, "As teachers become more adept with the strategies and materials, they can adapt and use them more broadly in their classrooms." just confuses me. Are they saying the class sizes in this program will get larger over time? Or that the teachers in this program are, as suggested elsewhere in this press release, using this project as a form of professional development and are expected to take new strategies and materials back to their regular classrooms?

And finally, this sentence just made me laugh:

The program is already demonstrating promise for future growth but the district will continue to monitor the data.

If the program just began last week, how can it be "already demonstrating promise?" And how can the district "continue to monitor the data?"


Anonymous said...

I have a seventh-grader who got a 2 on one section of the WASL last year, who has not been offered any such classes (or any other intervention). I wonder what the other (apparently unspoken) criteria are?

Beth Bakeman said...

I don't know. Have you asked the principal at your school about this program? If you find out more, please post details here.

Anonymous said...

The latest newsletter said our middle school is participating in EXCEL, and confirmed that it is for seventh graders. Student Learning Plans are required for those who didn't pass the fourth or seventh-grade WASL. I get the impression that EXCEL is aimed at heading off the need for SLPs for those kids next year.