GV BOCES School Improvement
February 2023 Newsletter
News You Can Use
Upcoming GV BOCES Featured Speakers
Creating State-Of-The-Art Master Schedules with Elliot Merenbloom
Elliot Merenbloom is an educational consultant with a passion for designing creative master schedules for schools that maximize resources to ensure learning for all students. Serving as a classroom teacher, counselor, principal, and director in Baltimore County, Maryland Public Schools, he developed expertise in leveraging valuable resources to efficiently and equitably structure all school schedules to enhance the fundamental purpose of schooling – teaching and learning. In addition to journal articles, he has co-authored three major books on developing master schedules for PK-12.
This professional learning will be virtual and separate sessions will be offered pertaining to different school buildings. Please use the links below to find the session that will best meet your building needs.
Paul Andersen is an educational consultant and YouTube creator living in Bozeman, MT. Paul is an experienced educator having taught science in Montana for 20 years. Paul was the 2011 Montana Teacher of the Year, and was also one of four finalists for the 2011 National Teacher of the Year. In addition to teaching, Paul has created hundreds of YouTube science tutorials that have been viewed millions of times by students around the world. Paul has provided training for thousands of students, teachers, and administrators around the world. Paul enjoys providing meaningful professional development that can be applied immediately in the classroom. Learn more about Mr. Andersen here!
Title: Unlocking the Power of the Next Generation Science Standards
Description: This workshop will focus on the best practices of science instruction including; modeling instruction, argument-driven inquiry, phenomenon-based instruction, and the science and engineering practices contained in the New York State Science Learning Standards (NYSSLS). Special consideration will be given to the cross-cutting concepts as both a thematic and practical lens to drive scientific inquiry. Participants will engage in scientific inquiry that is guided by authentic assessments and best practices. Come and experience this form of 3-dimensional instruction with Paul Andersen as your guide. Explore the wonders of science as you rediscover the curiosity that guided your childhood. Teachers should come prepared to do science!
Date: March 16, 2023
Genesee Valley BOCES
80 Munson Street
LeRoy, NY 14482
Intended Audience: PreK - 12 Science Educators & Administrators
NSYED Offers Science Investigation Guidance: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Beginning in the spring of 2024, students will take the Elementary-Level Science (ELS) Test at the end of 5th grade and the Intermediate-Level Science (ILS) Test at the end of 8th grade. The ELS and ILS Tests will be administered as computer-based examinations.
The ELS and ILS measure students’ knowledge and skills of the New York State P-12 Science Learning Standards (NYSP12SLS). To help students prepare for these tests, a series of hands-on laboratory experiences, referred to as Investigations, were designed by NYS-certified science teachers. The Investigations are in alignment with the NYSP12SLS, provide an opportunity for performance-based assessment, emphasize performance expectations, and reflect a three-dimensional model, as described in the Next Generation Science Standards all while facilitating a thought-provoking culture in the science classroom.
There are four required Investigations for ELS and four required Investigations for ILS. At least 15% of the ELS and ILS Tests will consist of multiple choice and constructed response questions related to performance expectations from these Investigations. Districts will determine when to have students complete the Investigations and how to monitor their completion.
The New York State Education Department released a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Investigations. Please refer to the links below for the complete list.
Links to New York State Education Department (NYSED) Documents:
Did You Hear About PLAN Pilot?
The Performance-Based Learning and Assessment Networks (PLAN) Pilot is exploring the potential for New York’s educational assessment systems to be reimagined in a way that purposefully fosters high-quality instructional opportunities, provides authentic measures of deeper learning, and better prepares students for college and the workplace. This initiative will look to match promising models for high-quality teaching, learning, and assessment alignment with participating pilot schools interested in multiple ways for students to demonstrate their mastery of learning standards.
Continued Professional Learning
Assessment Literacy: A Confidence Inventory for Instructional Professionals
Are you assessment literate? A very direct question– one that most educators would sheepishly answer in the affirmative, “Yes…I think I am.” However, for many, there would be a fraught silence that more accurately answers the question. While educators spend a significant amount of time assessing students, many do not have a working knowledge of the important basics of measurement to more resoundingly answer ‘aye’ to the literacy question– not that it is any fault of their own. Pre-service, in general, seems to omit any significant coursework that focuses on such an important concept as educational assessment. So, to fill the void, professional learning for in-service educators needs to increase instructional staffs’ confidence and skill in creating, evaluating, and implementing effective assessments.
So, what does it mean to be assessment literate? According to the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing (2014), assessment literacy can be defined as:
Knowledge about testing that supports valid interpretations of test scores for their intended purposes, such as knowledge about test development practices, test score interpretations, threats to valid score interpretations, score reliability and precision, test administration, and use (AERA, 2014, p. 216).
To some, the jargon in this definition (i.e. validity, reliability, score interpretations) might suggest that assessment literacy is only important to psychometricians developing large-scale assessments; however, there are far more practical needs for an assessment-literate instructional force. To put it quite simply, Popham (2018) argues that educators need to, “understand a handful of measurement concepts and procedures so that they can apply them properly to make sound instructional decisions and improve the quality of education that their students receive” (p. 7). So, what exactly are those few measurement concepts and procedures that all educators need to know and be able to do?
Well, borrowing from Dr. Popham again, it might be beneficial to take a self-assessment reflected in Popham’s (2016), Educational Assessment: A Confidence Inventory for Instructional Professionals. This quick, ten-item assessment focuses on key concepts, those well-versed in the field of educational assessment, that would constitute critical criteria for assessment literate educators. The topics contained within the inventory provide opportunities for professional learning regarding assessment for instructional professionals. Ideally, the Confidence Inventory should be used as both a pre- and post-assessment to measure the efficacy of the professional learning plan, relative to assessment literacy.
It is time to stop both making assumptions and suffering individual insecurity regarding educational staffs’ assessment literacy. For decades, important educational researchers have provided evidence-supported arguments for focusing on assessment literacy in both pre-service and in-service education (i.e. Brookhart, 2011; Michigan Assessment Consortium, 2020; Popham, 2003, 2009, 2011, 2016, 2018; Stiggins, 2014, 2017); the time to act is now. To circle back to former AERA President Dr. Popham, “Now, after a lengthy career, I am convinced that the single most cost-effective way to improve our nation’s schools is to increase educators' assessment literacy” (2018). Assessment is an important catalyst for instruction– let’s make sure the educators in local districts are prepared to use it as such.
Brookhart, S. M. (2011). Educational assessment knowledge and skills for teachers. Educational Measurement: issues and practice, 30(1), 3-12.
Stiggins, R. (2014). Defensible teacher evaluation: Student growth through classroom assessment. Corwin Press.
School Improvement Spotlights
Practitioners in the Classrooms: Cohort, a Successful Model to Operationalize Teacher Sprints
For years, the cohort model has been one of Genesee Valley BOCES’ most successful delivery methods for regional professional learning- at least, from an anecdotal perspective. But now, quintessential cohorts have been layered with Breakspear’s and Jones’ (2021) Teacher Sprints Framework to operationalize professional learning and enact high-leverage teaching practices in the classroom (see Figure 1). And, it's working!
As a result of the reimagined cohort model, district leaders can now expect that classroom teachers will have sufficient learning, data, and reflection to support their continued implementation of new teaching practices. Such shifts embody one of the most pragmatic challenges to professional learning - ensuring that professional learning transitions to instructional shifts that are enacted as targeted-learning practices resulting in favorable outcomes for students.
The research is clear that if the purpose of professional learning is to improve student outcomes, then assisting teachers to get better at what they do in the classroom is essential. As Hammon, Hyler, Gardner & Espinoza put state, “Stand-alone workshops, conferences, and short courses can be useful to build knowledge, but a sustainable change in teacher practice happens when teachers learn the work by doing the work in the place where they work” (2017). It is for this reason that the School Improvement Team implemented a shift in their professional learning offerings to operationalize evidence-based learning in a consistent and ongoing method.
The cohorts, originally designed to bring regional faculty members together, who generally experience a sense of isolationism, were subsequently identified as the perfect vehicle to run trials of the framework. Although it is not a perfect implementation model, School Improvement was able to modify specific attributes to effectively create a cohort experience emblematic of Professional Learning Community (PLC) participation. One such core practice in doing so was analyzing regional data to brainstorm and apply the Boulder, Pebble, Sand Protocol.
The Boulder, Pebble, Sand Protocol (BPSP), “... is very helpful in determining the right grain size for changes of practice” (Breakspear & Jones, 2021, p. 28). Generally, the Boulder represents a very broad intention for improvement, the Pebble identifies a principle, strategy, or collection of either, and as Breakspear & Jones (2021) describe, “[the] Sand… [selects] a tiny shift that everyone can practice with precision in their classrooms” (p. 28) devoid of a uniform setting. All selected cohorts, whether identified by grade level and/or discipline, that were layered with the Teacher Sprints Framework, were also subject to the prerequisite of applying the BPSP to ultimately identify and plan the preparation of specific content and learning.
For example, the ELA cohorts procured a BPSP whereas the Boulder was to improve middle and high school writing deficiencies, the Pebble was to utilize the content of The Writing Revolution (TWR), by Hochman and Wexler (2017), for direct and explicit instruction, and the Sand was to learn and select specific sentence-level and paragraph-level strategies to implement at the instructional level. Participating teachers became so enthralled with the clarity of content and process that they naturally began to request additional support from SIT coordinators. At this time, observation and feedback rounds have occurred and three regional districts with at least another site planned. In one district, the cycle even blossomed into a middle-school team requesting a curriculum audit and revision day, with SIT’s support, to further integrate TWR strategies across a guaranteed and viable curriculum. In all settings, an SIT coordinator was invited into a teacher’s classroom to observe them integrating a sentence-level strategy and then discuss the process after the completion of the lesson.
The K-6 Special Education cohort focused on studying and implementing High-Leverage Teaching Practices (HLTPs) for special education classrooms. The professional learning cohort began with studying explicit instruction and its importance as a high-leverage practice. Then, they narrowed their focus by attending to increasing the frequency of responses from students in the classroom (i.e the Boulder). By increasing the frequency of responses from students, they should, in theory, increase student cognitive and behavioral engagement (i.e. the Pebble). However, the cohort identified the need for a specific technique, or “tiny shift,” to trial, between meetings. At that time, specific Total Participation Techniques (TPTs) were identified and selected as a catalyst for student engagement (i.e Sand), which had the potential for measurement through the frequency of responses from students in the classroom. From the subsequent series of Preparing, Sprinting, and Reflecting, three K-6 Special Education Cohort members have recently invited their facilitators to come to their classrooms and watch them in action, as they implement selected shifts learned in cohort and receive informal feedback on their improvement practice. The School Improvement Team is excited to see professional learning come to life in classrooms and use observations, anecdotal evidence, and measurement to better understand our impact on teachers and student learning.
Does this sound like an experience you would like to participate in or have your staff be a part of? If the answer is yes, get ready to browse Genesee Valley BOCES’ 2023-2024 catalog to identify discipline-specific cohorts that identify integration of The Teacher Sprints Framework (2021) in their description. The best part is there are no exclusionary factors for faculty and/or administration. The cohorts are designed for any educator- novice to veteran, long-term participant to first-time participant- who wants to improve their craft and pedagogy. See you in 2023!
Follow School Improvement on Twitter
Don’t forget that you can follow the School Improvement Team (SIT) on Twitter. The team is often posting information about upcoming professional learning opportunities, educational resources, and strategies for the classroom. You can stay in tune with what is happening at Genesee Valley BOCES and the SIT by following #gvbocessit.
Location: 80 Munson Street, Le Roy, NY, USA