Week 8: Literacy Solutions Project

Patterns in the Data that Point to the Need for a Literacy Solution:

1.  Bonsack Elementary in Roanoke County:  The data is showing a three-year decline in reading comprehension with a particular weakness in reading nonfiction flyers or vocabulary in the context of a graphic.  According to the Director of K-12 English in Roanoke County, more students are coming to third grade unable to read on grade level across the County and at Bonsack Elementary.  The data provided by the Virginia Department of Education shows that third graders in the “All Students” category at Bonsack Elementary had a 96% Reading SOL pass rate in 2011-12, an 89% Reading SOL pass rate in 2012-13, and a 74% Reading SOL pass rate in 2013-14. This school and all the schools in the County are fully accredited and are still above the percent needed to meet state and federal requirements.  While Roanoke County declined in third grade reading, it was not as precipitous a drop overall, and many other schools did better than Bonsack Elementary, with more needy students.  95% of the County third graders passed the Reading S.O.L. in 2011-12, 78% passed it in 2012-13, and 72% passed it in 2013-14.  Bonsack Elementary is a relatively privileged school; it is not Title 1, it does not have enough students to make a “Black” subgroup, an “Asian” subgroup, a “Two or more races subgroup,” an “Economically Disadvantaged” subgroup, or a “Limited English Proficient” subgroup.  So, that means there are fewer than twenty students in these groups at Bonsack Elementary.  At the same time, there were Title 1 elementary schools in Roanoke County that out-performed Bonsack Elementary on the third grade reading SOL.

2.  William Byrd Middle School in Roanoke County:  The data shows a need to focus both on all student’s and acutely on Limited English Proficient student’s writing skills, including organization and paragraph development, across content areas.  Last year, the state of Virginia dropped the required Writing SOL test in 5th grade.  At this point, the first time students are assessed in writing in Virginia is in eighth grade.  Data is showing a decline in writing skills in the County.  In 2011-12, 94% of all students passed Writing SOLS and 67% of LEP students passed their Writing SOLs.  In 2012-13, 82% of all students passed Writing SOLs and 53% of LEP students passed their Writing SOLs.  In 2013-14, 80% of all students passed Writing SOLs, and 45% of LEP students passed their Writing SOLs.  A caveat, William Byrd Middle does not have enough English Language Learners to make a subgroup according to the state definition, so data is limited to just the County.  William Byrd Middle is fully accredited and the administration is aware that writing will need to be focused on across all grades and content areas.

3.  William Byrd High School in Roanoke County:  The data shows both a school and a county decline in Reading A.M.A.O.’s for ELLs.  That is, English Language Learners are struggling more to meet the Annual Measurable Achievement Objectives required by federal law.  The four components of A.M.A.O’s include:  % of LEP students, (Limited English Proficient,) passing the Reading S.O.L.s, % of LEP students passing Math S.O.L.s, the progress of LEP students on the WIDA-Access test, the % of LEP students exiting the ESL program, and a new fifth component is under the F.G.I. umbrella.  Districts will be lose points if ELLs don’t graduate in four years, even though they can legally attend school until they are twenty-one years of age.  So, even though William Byrd High School does not have enough English Language Learners to make a state-defined subgroup, the County does, and the ELLs in the County barely passed the A.M.A.O. standards in Reading in 2013-2014.

Possible Solutions that I am exploring:

1.  Bonsack Elementary in Roanoke County:

I recommend a team approach with the Reading Specialist and others to improve nonfiction comprehension, and most particularly comprehension of flyers and graphics in the primary grades.  This could be implemented in second or third grade, and would specifically include teaching students to create, share and question graphics as explained in Maloch and Horsey’s article for The Reading Teacher: “Diagrams, Timelines, and Tables-Oh, My!” The article recommends filling a classroom with graphics and integrating them into every facet of inquiry.  For example, the students make a timeline of their lives and even use a student-created table to compare daily weather temperatures.

References:

K.L. Roberts, Rebecca R. Norman, Nell K. Duke, Paul Morsink, Nicole M. Martin, and Jennifer A Knight.  (2013).  Diagrams, Timelines, and Tables-Oh, My!  The Reading Teacher, 67(1), 12-23.

Maloch, B. & Horsey, M. (2013).  Living Inquiry:  Learning from and About Information Texts in a Second-Grade Classroom.  The Reading Teacher, 66(6), 475-485.

Pardo, Laura S. (2011).  What Every Teacher Needs to Know About Comprehension.  The Reading Teacher, 58(3), 272-280.

2.  William Byrd Middle School in Roanoke County:

I recommend a school-wide focus on writing, with multi-grade expectations across content areas.  For example, teachers in math, social studies, science and every class, not just English 8, would be provided with ideas, and mini-lessons on how to integrate writing into their lessons and in particular, morphology.   When I recently approached the principal with this idea, she said all the teachers knew the expectations, (the standards,) and she mentioned a highly-skilled, highly experienced 8th grade English teacher who I might like to interview.  I think this teacher is an untapped resource for the school.  For example, I could work with her to create a package of approaches for embedding quality morphology-focused writing activities focused in the content areas.

References:

Goodwin, A., Lipinsky, M., & Ahn, S. (2012).  Word Detectives:  Using Units of Meaning to Support Literacy.  The Reading Teacher, 65(7), 461-470.

Kleffer, M.J.,  & Lesaux, N.K. (2007).  Breaking Down Words to Build Meaning:  Morphology, Vocabulary, and Reading Comprehension in the Urban Classroom.  The Reading Teacher, 61(2), 134-144.

Rasinski, T. V., Padak, N., Newton, J., & Newton, E. (2011).  The Latin-Greek Connection:  Building Vocabulary Through Morphological Study.  The Reading Teacher, 65(2), 133-141.

3.  William Byrd High School in Roanoke County:  

I recommend surveying the English teachers in grades 9-12 to see if there would be interest in a semester-long professional focus on Latin and Greek word families.  I would provide snacks and a flexible meeting schedule to go over the research with interested teachers.  We would discuss evidence-based ideas for integrating morphology into their lessons.

References:

Goodwin, A., Lipinsky, M., & Ahn, S. (2012). Word Detectives: Using Units of Meaning to Support Literacy. The Reading Teacher, 65(7), 461-470.

Kleffer, M.J., & Lesaux, N.K. (2007). Breaking Down Words to Build Meaning: Morphology, Vocabulary, and Reading Comprehension in the Urban Classroom. The Reading Teacher, 61(2), 134-144.

Rasinski, T. V., Padak, N., Newton, J., & Newton, E. (2011). The Latin-Greek Connection: Building Vocabulary Through Morphological Study. The Reading Teacher, 65(2), 133-141.

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