Stephanie David, Fletcher Elementary School literacy coach, recently met with reading teachers Lori Bird, Mindy John and Cassandra Monaghan during their weekly meeting to discuss and monitor students' progress in reading. The teachers use data to discuss students' strengths and challenges and to make adjustments in instruction. They work together to best place students in intervention programs.
Through a Response to Intervention pilot 5-year grant from New York state, Fletcher Elementary School was fortunate to be awarded a literacy coach. A literacy coach is trained to work effectively with peer colleagues to help strengthen the overall reading program. All district schools, however, are doing similar response to intervention for their students who are challenged.
"We work very hard to tailor and target instruction based on each student's specific needs," said the group. "We are constantly digging into the data to find out what the exact needs are and to then develop a strategy, as a group, that will help improve that skill. Students grow at different levels and we want to figure out what interventions will work best for each student."
The way students are studied in the weekly meetings is multi-fold. The Jamestown Schools assesses all students regularly on the big ideas of early literacy development using DIBELS, a standardized research-based assessment. From this information, literacy strengths and challenges are identified for each student. Based on an overall score, the students are placed in to one of three groups or tiers of literacy development: benchmark, strategic and intensive. To provide even more prescriptive instruction for students within these tiers, classroom and intervention data is also collected, shared, and analyzed during weekly grade level meetings as well. Individual student concerns are addressed, goals are set, goals are set, interventions are implemented, and students are continuously monitored. Instructional decisions are made based on all of this data.
All district elementary students receive a daily, uninterrupted 90-minute reading block that includes whole-group instruction and differentiated small-group instruction. Students are engaged in meaningful literacy practices in literacy workstations while the teacher meets with small groups.
In addition to the 90-minute reading block, students who are on track, or benchmark, also receive enrichment activities or help in a literacy "gap" they may have. For the "strategic" students who need support, an additional 30-minutes in skill groups, with a classroom teacher or a reading teacher, is provided. These students are monitored every three weeks with data to make changes.
The "intensive" or at-risk students, not only receive the 90-minute block and 30-minute support, but also an additional 15-30 minutes with a Fletcher reading teacher working on very specific skills that are challenging for the student. The intensive students are monitored weekly, often using out of grade level assessments.
After evaluating the students, the literacy coach, reading teachers, and/or classroom teachers may make changes in the current reading program in either the intervention used, the group size, and/or the amount of time for the intervention.
"We are working hard to track student growth, close literacy gaps, and help every student improve at an appropriate rate. We want parents to know that all students develop in literacy at different levels. Keep in close contact with your child's teacher to know how your child is doing and what skills they may need to develop," said the Fletcher reading teachers. "It is invaluable if parents continue to support in-school instruction at home by reading with child daily and working on developing those skills."