How One School Used Formative Practices to Take Students from Below Norms to Above Average

How One School Used Formative Practices to Take Students From Below Norms to Above Average - TLG-IMG-11092017At Our Lady of Hungary Catholic School (OLOH), in South Bend, Indiana, educators faced a universal challenge. As principal Kevin Goralczyk and the parish’s pastor, Reverend Kevin Bauman, explain:

“You know what you need the kids to know, but how do you know that they learned it? We didn’t want to teach our kids to pass a test; we wanted to make sure that we had our kids learning from year to year, and that their learning transferred across years.”

Bauman already knew NWEA® assessments had a solid track record in helping educators close achievement gaps, and Goralczyk found the organization’s professional learning well-suited to helping the school become a more collaborative and successful community. The school saw significant changes during their first year using MAP® Growth™, Children’s Progress Academic Assessment™ (CPAA™), and professional learning from NWEA focused on classroom formative instructional strategies. Student growth accelerated, teachers’ skills strengthened, and students became more engaged with their personal learning journeys.

But the next year, highly variable winter MAP Growth results made it clear that teachers’ comfort level with the new measures and strategies varied. While some classrooms made large gains in student growth, others did not. Goralczyk called for teachers to renew their formative instructional strategies, then stepped back. He noted that giving teacher leaders the chance to step forward and help empower their peers is an important part of leading change. Kari Wuszke emerged as one such teacher-leader, and had this to say:

You can have all the data in the world. But if you don’t know how to navigate it and what to do with it, then who cares? Being given the tool of formative assessment and different ways to use it was my lifesaver.”

By using new formative practices in combination with MAP Growth data, Wuszke gained better day-to-day understanding of her students’ learning, and tailored her instruction to reflect that knowledge. The shift enabled her to see “better and better evidence of growth,” and she shared her insights with other teachers to lift up all the school’s students.

Tweet: Formative Practices Take Students From Below Norms to Above Average #edchatFirst grade teacher Amy Black used her observations and “quick, daily 1:1 check ins” to help one of her young students, an English Language Learner, grow 22 points in his Reading RIT score. “I quickly see, ‘is he getting it? for a few minutes several times a day,” Black shared. “Formative assessment strategies have been helping me a lot – keeping all of my students busy and engaged with thumbs up/thumbs down, red/green cards, and guided tutoring time.”

The school’s dedication to data-driven instruction and formative practices paid off. By the end of their second school year using tools from NWEA, teachers were seeing growth reflected in MAP Growth scores, as well as every day in the classroom. All classes improved their mean MAP Growth score in all three test areas, and Goralczyk was thrilled to share that OLOH was recently named an “A” school for the second year in a row by the Indiana Department of Education.

“We are one of the very few schools in the state that has 100% free and reduced lunch with 45% of the population qualifying for ELL services to achieve this rating by the state of Indiana,” Goralczyk added.

Our congratulations go out to OLOH!


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