WILLIAMS, Ariz. - Your daughter is getting over a cold and is struggling to stay focused on her teacher's lesson on fractional measurements. Now, instead of her teachers moving on without her, she is getting a second chance with a new program at Williams Elementary-Middle School (WEMS.
With the implementation of the Beyond Textbooks curriculum, students are tested after each standard is taught. Teachers then use the test scores to group individual students and determine whether they need to have more instruction on a standard.
"This sort of data-driven instructional decision making was not being done last year," said Carrissa Morrison, principal at WEMS. "We're targeting how students perform on individual concepts better and then use this information to determine whether they receive more intervention or not."
The school has used intervention groups in the past, but the groups were static throughout the year. This year they are fluid, based upon how students perform on particular concepts or standards.
For example in the past at the elementary school a student would go to the math interventionist all year long regardless of how they performed on specific concepts. Now it is based upon their performance on the Beyond Textbooks formative tests.
"We're using the formatives in math only for K-5 this first year," Morrison said. "Next year we'll add the reading formatives. If you change too much at once, implementation is likely to be faulty."
Williams Middle School is also using the flexible grouping. Like the elementary school, the middle school used to have students go to the math interventionist all year regardless of how they performed on specific concepts. Now it is driven based upon their performance on the formative tests.
"Now if you do better on a standard, you go for enrichment activities rather than intervention activities," Morrison said.
Morrision said the formatives are being used in reading and math at the middle school level. The school has re-worked the middle school master calendar to make time for every student to have a reteach/enrich class.
"Depending on how the students do on the formative test, they either get extra help on the standard (reteach) or they go beyond the standard and do harder work (enrich)," Morrison said.
This class is a typical period in length, but is split between math and English. Each student either goes to math reteach or enrich for 28 minutes and then to English reteach or enrich for 28 minutes. This is in addition to their 57 minute regular math and English classes.
"Where students go depends upon how they do on their weekly formative tests," Morrison said. "One week a student could be in English reteach, but math enrich. Then the next week it could totally change."
"It's definitely a big change from last year," Morrison said.