GV BOCES School Improvement
November 2022 Newsletter
News You Can Use
Upcoming GV BOCES Featured Speakers
Dr. Paul Riccomini
Title: Effective Techniques for Scaffolding Students' Mathematical Problem Solving
Description: Learn practical and effective strategies that support student problem-solving in a variety of situations including both individual and group arrangements. Developing strategic problem-solving strategies is crucial for students to apply and interpret mathematical concepts and skills in the context of word problems. This is an especially difficult area for many students including students with disabilities. You will learn specific techniques for scaffolding mathematical reasoning and thinking through language scaffolds and content scaffolding progression (CSP) focusing on the underlying structures of word problems.
Date: November 4, 2022
Intended Audience: Grades K-8 General/Special Education Teachers; Instructional Coaches & Administrators
Dr. Paul Riccomini
Description: It is essential for students to acquire a deep understanding of foundational mathematical concepts and skills; yet, many students struggle with mathematical reasoning. This is an especially difficult area for many students including students with disabilities. The answer is sometimes as simple as analyzing the solution to a problem. This session will focus on a strategy that utilizes activities where students work with solved solutions to problems to help facilitate deeper understanding and reasoning.
Date: December 13, 2022
Intended Audience: Grades 4-12 General/Special Education Teachers; Instructional Coaches & Administrators
Required Science Investigations
The Elementary and Intermediate level Science Tests will be administered in grades 5 and 8, respectively, for the first time in Spring 2024. These tests are designed to measure knowledge and skills as contained in the New York State P-12 Science Learning Standards. The tests are administered as written examinations in the spring of each school year and consist of both multiple-choice and constructed-response (i.e. open-ended) questions. In order to prepare for these tests with authentic, hands-on laboratory experiences, students will participate in a series of required activities called Investigations. Like the written tests, the Investigations are aligned with the New York State P-12 Science Learning Standards, but provide the opportunity for performance-based assessment of student science knowledge and skills. The Investigations are designed to be embedded into instruction and can be offered any time during the school year, dependent on when teachers cover the particular Learning Standards assessed.
Teachers must be certain that all students successfully complete the required Investigations before the administration of the Elementary or Intermediate level Science Tests. Completion of the Investigations prepares students for the written test, by providing a hands-on opportunity to demonstrate the attainment of science knowledge and skills that also will be assessed on the written test. At least 15% of the questions on the written test will measure content related to the performance expectations measured by the Investigations. Other questions will assess concepts related to the activities undertaken by students within the Investigations. There are four (4) required Investigations for the elementary and intermediate levels, respectively. Please see the memo linked below for more specific information.
Holocaust Instruction Survey
On August 10th, 2022, Governor Kathy Hochul signed into law Chapter 490 of the Laws of 2022, requiring a survey regarding instruction on the Holocaust within New York State public school districts. Through the survey, superintendents are required to attest that the district is teaching about the Holocaust appropriately, as part of classroom instruction, aligned with the NYS Social Studies Learning Standards and §801 of Education Law.
The Holocaust Instruction Survey may be accessed through the SED Monitoring and Vendor Performance System in the NYSED Business Portal. Survey responses must be submitted to the Department no later than 5:00 PM on November 10, 2022. Additional information, including resources for teaching the Holocaust, are available on the Standards and Instruction Website.
Per §3 of Chapter 490 of the Laws of 2022, each school district that does not respond to the survey or does not affirmatively attest that such instruction is provided, will be required to prepare and implement a corrective action plan (to be prescribed by the Department) to comply with the instruction required by law. The corrective action plan will be submitted to the Commissioner of Education, within a certain timeframe for approval, form, and format that is acceptable to the Commissioner.
Continue Your Professional Learning
Critical Assessment Design: Guidelines for Practice & Application
The October installment of this multiple-part series focused on how to create, revise, and/or review quality Multiple-Choice Questions– all in an effort to Test Better, Teach Better. So, perhaps the logical next step is to explore the realm of items defined as constructed-response items (CR). CRs are equally as prevalent as MCQs within the classroom assessment environment, so it is imperative that classroom assessment designers have both the knowledge and skills necessary to create, revise, and review quality constructed-response items.
Generally speaking, CRs can be categorized in three ways: short-answer items, extended-response items, and performance (interpretive) items (Chappuis, Brookhart, & Chappuis, 2021; Marzano, Norford, & Ruyle, 2019; Popham, 2003). Typically, short-answer items demand a brief response, and the range of possible answers is very small; conversely, extended-response items require several sentences to satisfy an appropriate response, and the range of possible answers is more broad due to the complexity of learning outcomes being assessed in a typical extended-response item (Chappuis, Brookhart, & Chappuis, 2021). A performance item is one that requires a student to “construct an answer, produce a product, or perform an activity” (Darling-Hammond, 2017, p. 4). Based on these definitions, it is clear that constructed-response items can effectively address a myriad of curricular aims in the classroom assessment environment.
There are a series of best practices for writing constructed-response items across the academic literature; some of these are reflected in Table 1. While many of these seem fairly logical– i.e. expected length and point values– some of the other practices might be contradictory to the current implementation. For example, a best practice articulated below, included in each column, focuses on not including optional assessment items, a notion that may oppose practitioners’ understanding of student choice. However, this is an extremely important practice to employ, especially if the assessment results will be used for comparative purposes. Essentially, the use of optional test items creates different test forms, which is why comparisons cannot be drawn. These best practices are intended to ensure that the data generated from CRs can more effectively lead to valid test-based inferences.
When using constructed-response questions in the classroom assessment context, it is important for instructional staff to consider the type of item or items, and the best practices necessary to ensure the items, and their corresponding evidence, are of the highest quality. Again, because assessment is an inference-making enterprise, it is critical to ensure processes and practices are in place to increase the likelihood of the most accurate inferences being made relative to what students know and are able to do.
School Improvement Spotlights
Mathematics Expert Visits Genesee Valley
On Wednesday, October 19, Dr. Paul Riccomini, Associate Professor of Education at Penn State University, presented to teachers at the Genesee Valley BOCES LeRoy Service Center. Riccomini strives to strengthen the relationship between general and special education providers and systems. He’s dedicated to improving the academic outcomes for all students, especially those with learning disabilities in mathematics, through the application of evidence-informed instructional practices. On October 19th, Dr. Riccomini discussed acquisition versus retention. Below, please will find an overview of that session…
Acquisition Vs. RetentionTeaching new content is an integral part of a teacher’s job, but helping students RETAIN (i.e. encoding into long-term memory with the ability to retrieve) content is even more important. There is a defining difference between initial learning acquisition- or, consolidating new information coming in, and retention- access to getting the information back out, after it was learned. Over 100 years ago, Hermann Ebbinghaus discovered the nature of memory loss over time and illustrated this phenomenon in the Forgetting Curve (See Table 2). The graph illustrates that when you first learn something, the information disappears at an exponential rate (i.e. you lose most of the information/content within the first couple of days, after which the rate of loss tapers off).
Riccomini’s objective was to use retention strategies to flatten the forgetting curve or reduce the slope of the learning decay, over time. Ebbinghaus discovered that information is easier to recall when it’s built upon things you already know. Every time you reinforce the learning, the rate of decline reduces. Riccomini introduced three retention strategies that are specifically designed in response to cognitive research; they help students better retain what’s been learned. He says “it does not matter how well you teach something and how well students learned it initially if we don’t use specifically designed retention activities that follow.”
High-Intensity, Instructional Techniques for Retention
1. Spaced Learning Over Time (SLOT) is the intentional and purposeful planning for the review of key concepts throughout the year. Research studies conclude the benefits of delayed review are much greater than the same amount of time spent reviewing shortly after initial instruction (Rohrer & Taylor, 2006).
2. Interleaving Practice Format (IPF) allows students to have regular opportunities to recall important concepts, skills, and/or tasks in a low-stakes situation. Practice problems of the same type are sequenced in a mixed format, NOT consecutively (e.g. ABCD, ABCD, ABCD). In contrast to interleaved practice is blocked practice (e.g. AAAA, BBBB, CCCC, DDDD). Blocked practice is important for initial learning, but it is not sufficient to enhance retention.
3. Practice Test Retrieval (PTR) says that by simply testing a person’s memory, that memory will become stronger. Purposefully planning frequent opportunities to retrieve what’s been previously learned helps solidify the information in the long-term memory through active recall. Therefore, the probability of remembering “something” depends on the number of times it’s been retrieved.
An essential question for teachers to ask, both during planning and after instruction occurs, is “What did I do to intensify instruction to support the struggling students (and/or most advanced students)?” The three techniques for retention will help to intensify a teacher’s instruction to support ALL students when learning mathematics, whether struggling or advanced. Teaching is essentially dominated by our goal of putting information “in.” These effective retention techniques are for helping students take the information back “out,” when it is needed.
Rohrer, D., & Taylor, K. (2006). The effects of overlearning and distributed practice on the retention of mathematics knowledge. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 20, 1209–1224.
GV BOCES Cohorts are back!
In the month of October, the English Language Arts (ELA) 5-8 Cohort, ELA 9-12 Cohort, 7-12 Science Cohort, U.S. History Cohort, Global Cohort, and K-6 Special Education Cohort met. Within those groups, there were 83 participants that made the journey to the LeRoy Service Center to learn and partner with regional colleagues.
The ELA, Mathematics, Social Studies & Special Education Cohorts will look to identify areas of need, collect baseline data, develop group goals, learn together, implement an innovation together, and study outcomes of the implemented innovation. This progression is based on the Plan, Do, Study, Act (PDSA) cycle. PDSA is an iterative, four-stage problem-solving model used for improving a process or carrying out change.
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 will continue to work with regional educators on implementing a shift in their teacher practice within their classrooms in a consistent and ongoing method.
Thank you for sending us your exceptional educators and teacher leaders!
K-6 Special Education Cohort
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