As I was reading Darling-Hammond's "The Flat World and Education: How America's Commitment to Equity Will Determine Our Future" for my Dynamics of the Equitable Classroom class, I was energized by finding my main interest as an educator right now represented in this learning!
I have always had a heart for working with struggling students. My current position as Academic Specialist for Donaldson Way Elementary School in American Canyon allows me to do this work at both an administrative level, as well as in the classroom with students. I coordinate all of our intervention, K-5. I also will be teaching ELA intervention for grades 4 and 5 this year.
Over the past few years as the AS, I have noticed that our earliest learners who arrive less prepared have a nearly impossible time finding their way out of the learning gap, especially on the DIBELS assessment, which measures the acquisition of early literacy skills.
After several trimesters of tracking their growth, implementing interventions, and analyzing the data, I also discovered that this group of learners at my school seems to be nearly the same group as our SES Title 1 students on Free Lunch.
I know that what we have been doing isn't enough. Although the intervention we have planned does see some gains, it's not drastic enough. What is the missing part? It often seems to come down to the fact that some growth isn't enough growth. Due to the "moving target" of the DIBELS performance levels, students can make significant growth, but still not move out of the "intensive" group.
How can we make substantial gains for this group to help them out of the danger zone? How far behind did these students enter in Kindergarten? Is there a home connection that could make a difference? Has anyone else been able to achieve the accelerated growth that I am looking for?
I am hoping to find all the answers to these questions, and hopefully more as I jump into the world of educational research. Wish me luck as I begin a journey to help our wonderful students!