GV BOCES School Improvement
April 2023 Newsletter
News You Can Use
NYSED Offers a New 4+1 Graduation Pathway
The Individual Arts Assessment Pathway (IAAP) is a 4+1 graduation option in which students complete a locally determined three-unit sequence in the arts and demonstrate, through a collection of creative works, growth over time that meets the High School II Accomplished Performance Indicators in the New York State Learning Standards for the Arts.
The application to offer the Individual Arts Assessment Pathway (IAAP) is available for all districts and schools in the SED Monitoring and Vendor Performance System located within the Application Business Portal, for the 2023-2024 school year. Applications are open until August 1, 2023.
Individual Arts Assessment Pathway (IAAP) Professional Development Modules
Continued Professional Learning
The School Improvement (SI) newsletter strives to continue providing professional learning for school administrators, teachers, and staff that fit your district's needs. This section of the newsletter will provide readers with timely and relevant learning aligned with evidence-based practices. If you would like more professional learning on topics outlined in the newsletter, please contact the SI department. Our contact information is located at the bottom of the newsletter. Enjoy!
The Beginning– A Very Good Place to Start
Perhaps, one of the more comforting aspects of becoming assessment literate is that there is a relatively linear progression through the key concepts. As the nod to “The Sound of Music” suggests, starting at the very beginning is a great idea– as long as one knows where to start. For those seeking to gain assessment literacy, or just create an effective tool for measuring teaching and learning, being abundantly clear on the purpose of the assessment is the place to start. Dr. Popham argues that, “Purposeful educational assessment requires that the test’s primary purpose…become the overridingly important factor in the creation of a test, and in the evaluation of that test” (2016, p. 20).
There are two purposes that are ubiquitously used across the teaching and learning landscape: summative and formative purposes for assessment. These purposes are wide-ranging and encapsulate, rather generally, most assessment purposes. Simply put, educators are either looking to assist the learning process through the provision and use of feedback by both teachers and students (i.e. formative), or educators are using assessment to provide a summary of what a student knows or is able to do (i.e. summative) after the learning process (Wilson, 2018). While these purposes clearly have high utility, they lack the nuance necessary to enhance clarity.
To provide a finer point, Dr. Popham and the American Educational Research Association offer similar triads of purposes for assessment. Specifically, Popham (2016) describes the three purposes of assessment through three lenses– comparisons among test-takers, improvement of ongoing instruction and learning, and evaluation of instruction. Synonymously, the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing (2014) offers the purpose triad of: informing decisions about students, informing teaching and learning, and assessing student outcomes. Comparative purposes focus on highlighting the differences amongst individual students (e.g. think classification), while evaluative purposes focus on the quality of instruction within the instructional program, in order to make decisions for future instruction (i.e. accountability assessments). This leaves the teaching and learning purposes to focus on meeting the needs of the students during the immediate instructional cycle. These purposes provide greater discrimination as a means for engendering precision.
While it is important for practitioners to know the purposes described across the literature, as presented above, they may not seem the most useful in terms of boots on the ground work. To that end, below are a series of questions any educator could ask of any assessment he or she is about to create or implement. Although these were submitted by researchers for consideration regarding the use of interim assessments, it is believed that they serve a more universal practice:
What do I want to learn from this assessment?
Who will use the information gathered from this assessment?
What action steps will be taken as a result of this assessment?
What professional development or support structures should be in place to ensure the action steps are taken appropriately?
How will student learning improve as a result of using this…assessment…and will it improve more than if the assessment…[was] not used (Perie, Marion, & Gong, 2009, pp. 9)?
Becoming assessment literate is a journey, and, unfortunately for many, it is a journey that starts after pre-service education. That being said, it is certainly a journey worth taking– one that has a clear path to follow. In order to get started, it is important to ask oneself some simple questions to get the trip started: “what is it you want to find out, what do you want the assessment to do, and why are you administering it in the first place” (Ainsworth & Viegut, 2014, p. 30)? Answers to these questions improve the likelihood of both teachers and students learning at rates that reach beyond previous attainment…a definite win-win.
Reforming Systemic Discipline by Understanding Behavior
Nancy Rappaport, MD, a child psychiatrist and expert on childrens’ mental health, emphasizes the importance of understanding behavior as a form of communication. In her book The Behavior Code: A Practical Guide to Understanding and Teaching the Most Challenging Students, Rappaport writes that, "all behavior is communication" (p. 5). As a result, when children display challenging behaviors, they are often trying to convey a message about their thoughts, feelings, or needs.
Rappaport encourages educators and parents to look beyond the surface level of a child's behavior and consider what might be driving it. By taking a compassionate approach, adults can work to identify the underlying cause(s) of challenging behavior and address it in a way that meets the child's needs. Rappaport's insights remind us that behavior is not just a series of isolated incidents, but rather a rich and complex form of communication that can offer valuable clues about a child's inner world.
Watch the short video below about how one teacher intercepts disrespectful behavior in the classroom as a form of communication and goes beyond the surface to understanding behavior from a compassionate perspective.
The good news is that behavior can be changed. Rappaport also emphasizes the importance of teaching children alternative behaviors to replace challenging behaviors. Rappaport suggests that when children display challenging behaviors, it is often because they lack the skills to communicate their needs or emotions effectively. By teaching children new skills, such as positive communication strategies or coping mechanisms, adults can help them to express themselves in more appropriate ways. Additionally, Rappaport highlights the importance of providing positive reinforcement for desired behaviors, as this can help to strengthen and maintain those behaviors over time. Through teaching children new skills and reinforcing positive behaviors, adults can help to support their social-emotional development and promote long-term behavior change.
One of the first steps towards reformatting school discipline is to reframe the punitive model of discipline as a system of proactive, developmentally appropriate, positive, and supportive practices that allow children to learn from their mistakes. Systemic reform is not easy, but can begin with developing an understanding that misbehavior is a symptom to an under-developed skill. Working with school staff and classroom teachers on understanding student behavior is the first step to developing shared understandings and philosophies behind behavior before changing systems.
If you would like support with systematic change around discipline and understanding student behavior please contact the Genesee Valley BOCES School Improvement Team.
School Improvement Spotlights
School Improvement Supports an Interim Assessment Audit
The School Improvement Team and Mount Morris Elementary School are engaging in a series of professional learning opportunities that involve creating high-quality interim assessments for mathematics. Interim assessments can be effective tools for measuring student progress and providing feedback to both teachers and students. Here are some potential benefits:
Ensuring alignment with standards: Interim assessments can be used to ensure that instruction is aligned with the standards. By monitoring student progress on interim assessments, educators can ensure that they are teaching the skills and concepts outlined in the standards.
Identifying student learning gaps: Interim assessments can help identify areas where students may be struggling and where additional instruction or support is needed.
Adjusting instruction: Interim assessments can provide valuable information to teachers about what students have learned and what they still need to learn. This information can help educators track student growth and make data-driven decisions about instruction.
Measuring student growth: Interim assessments can be used to measure student growth over time, which can be helpful in tracking student progress and evaluating the effectiveness of instructional programs.
Mount Morris teacher teams collectively created a test blueprint. A test blueprint is a plan or framework that outlines the content and structure of an assessment. It is a valuable tool for instructors as it provides a clear and organized approach to developing a test that is focused, balanced, consistent, and efficient. After all, it should go without saying that the quality of the interim assessments is important; they should be well-designed, aligned with learning goals, and provide reliable and valid results. However, it's important to note that the effectiveness of interim assessments also depends on how they are used. If they are used solely for accountability purposes, they may not be as effective as if they are used to inform instruction and provide targeted feedback to students.
Read more about assessment “blueprinting” in the September 2022 SIT newsletter.
SIT Brings World-Renowned Science Expert to the Genesee Valley BOCES Region
On March 16, 2023, Paul Andersen joined Genesee Valley BOCES as a featured speaker for “Unlocking the Power of the Next Generation Science Standards.” Andersen currently serves as an educational consultant and YouTube creator after having taught science in Montana for 20 years. Throughout this time, he has provided training for students, teachers, and administrators throughout the world. Some of Paul Andersen’s accolades include 2011 Montana Teacher of the Year and Finalist for the 2011 National Teacher of the Year.
The key takeaway from Paul Andersen’s presentation was, “Don’t kill the wonder for kids!” (Andersen, 2023). Andersen emphasized having students explore concepts before lecturing or explaining those concepts. This begins with a phenomenon; a phenomenon is anything that students can observe in the natural world. Andersen notes that a phenomenon doesn’t have to be “phenomenal,” but it needs to be something students can actually observe, and collect empirical evidence for, and it must align with a standard. For example, he shared a video of a circular piece of river ice rotating freely, a photograph capturing a white deer with variation in traits, and a demonstration of a magnet launching metal spheres upon the addition of a third sphere. For each of these phenomena, Andersen engaged participants as students in a learning experience that incorporated the three dimensions of the Next Generation Science Standards: Disciplinary Core Ideas, Science and Engineering Practices, and Crosscutting Concepts.
To incorporate this approach, first students observe a phenomenon. As they do so, they begin to record questions they have about what they are observing. The teacher should circulate to view students’ questions and provide positive feedback, but not to answer the questions. Students begin to construct explanations for their questions using the science and engineering practice of modeling. There are multiple ways to demonstrate modeling; participants in this particular session used individual, small whiteboards to draft models visualizing how the phenomenon occurs. It is important to take the time to develop a good model as it will help students communicate their thinking and understanding. Models should be labeled with both content/academic vocabulary and vocabulary from the Crosscutting Concepts and Science and Engineering Practices. Once models are complete, students summarize their model in one sentence and transfer both the model and the one-sentence summary to a poster they hang in the classroom. All students have the opportunity to view others’ posters around the classroom to identify the information they did not consider. Students then have the opportunity to return to their posters and make revisions based on what they learned from other models. Paul Andersen shared that the tasks of observing a phenomenon, asking questions, and drawing a model generally can occur within a 45-minute class period. Block scheduling would allow for these tasks to occur as well as the remaining tasks of planning and carrying out investigations and engaging in argument from evidence.
When students have individually completed a model of the phenomenon, they begin work in a group of two or three students to plan and carry out an investigation that would yield evidence for explaining the phenomenon. Due to the nature of this learning, the teacher can expect to pause the experience to provide mini-lessons related to concepts students are learning. Some of the mini-lessons, Andersen modeled during his presentation, included observations on color, observations of similarities and differences, and the role of mechanisms in cause-and-effect relationships. Each mini-lesson consisted of Andersen demonstrating a non-content-specific concept, prior to explaining the scientific concept through direct instruction.
The data collected from the investigation is then used to engage in argument from evidence. Andersen emphasized the difference between explanation and argument, “Explanation is what you think; the argument is what you know, based on evidence” (Andersen, 2023). This is the appropriate time for the teacher to address any student misconceptions through the process of modeling instruction. Students synthesize their learning in an appropriate format. Participants in Andersen’s presentation created a poster using a Claim, Evidence, and Reasoning template that was hung on the wall. One member of each group stayed with the poster to explain it to peers. The other group members visited other posters to learn about their peers’ investigations. The discourse that occurred during this time was a powerful tool for learning from each other.
Throughout his presentation, Andersen ensured that participants experienced the three dimensions of a lesson aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards: Disciplinary Core Ideas, Science and Engineering Practices, and Crosscutting Concepts. He provided several ways for teachers to manage the classroom’s physical space to support this dimensional learning, such as:
Teachers can place posters labeled with Crosscutting Concepts on a wall;
Teachers can delegate one board in the classroom for students driving questions before planning and carrying out an investigation;
Students can report the results of their investigation on a summary table that is posted on a whiteboard;
Students can write questions on a post-it note and place it with the appropriate Crosscutting Concept poster;
In connection with these approaches, an anchor chart could be used to display content that would help students successfully complete an investigation and distributed resources could provide more pictorial information, such as models, graphs, or tables, as opposed to significantly, text-heavy resources.
Paul Andersen’s presentation on the Next Generation Science Standards was timely. New York State is in the midst of a transition plan to the New York State P-12 Science Learning Standards (NYSP12SLS). The NYSP12SLS were adopted in 2016 and will be reflected in the Elementary-Level and Intermediate-Level Science Tests beginning in 2024. Students must successfully complete four required Investigations prior to the Elementary-Level Science Test and an additional four required Investigations prior to the Intermediate-Level Science Test. The new science tests will each comprise 15% of questions related to the performance expectations from the required Investigations. Additionally, specific courses will transition; Living Environment will become Biology and Earth Science will become Earth and Space Sciences. The first administration of the Biology Exam and Earth and Space Sciences Exam will be in June 2025; the final administration of the Living Environment and Earth Science Exams will be in June 2026. Chemistry and Physics will follow, with the first administration of each new exam occurring in June 2026 and the final administration occurring in June 2027.
The NYSP12SLS are based on the Next Generation Science Standards and include feedback from New York State science teachers. There are fewer standards found in the NYSP12SLS compared to those previously released in 1995. This allows teachers to integrate Science and Engineering Practices and Crosscutting Concepts into their instruction of Disciplinary Core Ideas more efficiently. It is important to note that the content in the NYSP12SLS is taught earlier in schools than teachers have previously experienced. For example, there are Disciplinary Core Ideas typically taught during Living Environment that are now performance expectations in middle school. The implication for this timing is that students could experience a three year delay in curriculum if the NYSP12SLS aren’t implemented across all grade bands with fidelity. Paul Andersen recommended that teachers front load content if this occurs, but do not teach the standards in the lower grade levels.
Andersen stated in his presentation that the new science standards made him a better teacher. The focus is now on teaching content, thinking, and the doing of science (Andersen, 2023). Andersen has provided a number of resources on his website, thewonderofscience.com. There are videos, mini-lessons, short performance assessments, and rubrics, among many other resources. As shared previously, Paul Andersen’s message to teachers is, “Don’t kill the wonder for kids!” The transition to three-dimensional learning and the implementation of the NYSP12SLS create an opportunity for students to experience the wonder of science.
New York State has more expected changes for science. For embedded support in your district, please reach out to Stephanie Burns at (585) 344-7923 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
CoSer 526 Roll Over
Leadership Institute 2023: Registration and More!
Every year, the Genesee Valley BOCES Professional Learning Services, in conjunction with the Superintendent Instructional Sub-Committee (SISC), plan and design a regional leadership opportunity. The event, well-known as Leadership Institute, will take place at Holiday Valley Resort in Ellicottville, NY, on August 2nd and 3rd. Please click the link below to learn more about the registration process, keynote speaker, event agenda, team accommodations, and much more.
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.
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