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Blueprint for PGCPS: Support for Students Struggling with Reading and Math

Background

Many teachers and families struggle to support students who are not reading at grade level or not performing well in math. We are creating a digital literacy program that focuses on evidence-based strategies to help these students – including one-on-one tutoring, peer tutoring, screening and addressing literacy deficits and investing in new technology for kindergarten through third-grade students at more than 50 schools.

Update for School Year 2020-2021

Transitional Supplemental Instruction (TSI)

During the 2019-2020 school year, 28 schools provided academic assistance using Transitional Supplemental Instruction (TSI) funding. Specifically, across all schools that provided TSI services during the 2019-20 school year, the number of students in each grade who received TSI services is as follows:

  • Kindergarten- 1924 students
  • First Grade- 1906 students
  • Second Grade- 1912 students
  • Third Grade- 0 students

There were no after-school tutors hired to provide TSI services to students during the 2019-2020 school year. However, the predominant service delivery method for TSI services was the implementation of interventions through digital learning programs for early learners that focused on both mathematics (Dreambox Learning Math) and literacy (iRead) during the school day. 

Prior to the school closure in March 2020, funds were to be used for substitutes for professional development held during the school day and stipends for teachers who attended after school. Those sessions were cancelled due to the pandemic. Consequently, PGCPS did not spend its full TSI allocation during the 2019-2020 school year; however, the pandemic did not adversely affect TSI services and PGCPS was able to continue virtually without interruption until summer 2020. 

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the school system continues to provide virtual TSI services to 28 schools during the 2020-2021 school year using the $1,265,523 allocated in TSI funding. Further, in an effort to identify students for TSI services, the lowest 28 performing elementary schools’ scores were selected from the rank order listing of the Maryland Accountability System's Academic Achievement Reading/English Language Arts and Math indicators for SY 2018-19. 

This indicator describes students’ English Language Arts and mathematics performance on state standardized tests. Thus, students in these schools will receive small group after-school tutoring services in addition to access to digital platforms. 

The number of students in each grade who receive TSI services is as follows:

  • Kindergarten- 1634 
  • First Grade- 1874 
  • Second Grade- 1842 
  • Third Grade- 0

To implement this initiative, there are 24 certified teachers who provide after-school tutoring and two (2) tutor coordinators who manage the after school hours TSI services. In addition to the whole group and one-on-one pairs with the classroom teacher serving as tutors (after school) through our instructional delivery model, the students will also have individualized support with two commercial instructional programs using digital platforms (iRead and Dreambox Learning). In fact, the predominant service delivery method for TSI services across all TSI schools is the after-school tutoring through digital learning programs for early learners that will focus on both mathematics (Dreambox Learning Math) and literacy (iRead). Progress is being monitored through the data reports generated in Dreambox Learning and iRead. And, PGCPS is on track to spend all of its TSI funds this school year. 

December Survey 2020

Support for Students Struggling with Reading and Math update as of April 1, 2021

The Reading Language Arts and Mathematics offices continue to utilize funding to support students who have struggled during distance learning. Since January 2021, students in grades K-2 have been engaged in after-school tutoring and have access to predictive curriculum programs. Moreover, the after-school tutoring program continuewith a second session from March 15th - April 29th. 

Other interventions include DreamBox for mathematics and iRead for reading. Both are predictive programs that tailor instruction to each student based on his or her response to academic questions. Although the Reading and Mathematics Offices recommend 5 lessons per week, schools are only averaging 2 iRead lessons per week, while DreamBox lessons per week increased for 12 schools since January. More specifically, 2 schools consistently participate more than the minimum requirement of 5 lessons per week. Overall, 2 lessons per week still captures enough data for predictive insight. 

To support this effort, the Mathematics Office assisted classroom teachers in 28 schools with using student data to inform instruction and provide guidance for all students to access grade level content. Additionally, 18 of the 28 schools received coaching support from the Reading/English Language Arts Office for iRead that provided differentiated support to help increase usage and plan for small group instruction. To date, these 28 schools have the highest usage across the county at 70-80%.

To promote transparency, monthly updates are sent to schools to keep principals and staff informed. Schools requiring differentiated support, received training to help increase usage and planning for small group instruction, demonstration lessons, data analysis, and a question and answer session.

Support for Students Struggling with Reading and Math update as of July 1, 2021

Tutoring: Students participated in after school tutoring in Reading and Mathematics until June 10, 2021. (see attendance report for number of students who attended per session). Parents/guardians were surveyed twice during the program. There were 4 questions and 38 responses for the March survey. And, there were 4 questions and 34 responses for the June survey. The parent/guardian survey included responses such as:

March

  • 3% rated tutoring neither effective or ineffective
  • 24% rated tutoring effective
  • 73% rated tutoring highly effective

Comments

  • “More sessions would be lovely as learning takes time so frequency and consistency is critical to achieving the desired results.” 
  • “I believe due to the circumstances at hand the program couldn’t have been any better. Thank you all for supporting our children!”
  • “Make the session at least an hour. Keep the program until the end of the school year and even the summer if possible.”

June 

  • 3% rated tutoring neither effective or ineffective
  • 23% rated tutoring effective
  • 74% rated tutoring highly effective

Comments

  • “Honestly, I loved every bit of the program. The teachers were perfect for [my son]. He gets overlooked in class because he is quiet but in tutoring he was congratulated after every right answer and when he was wrong, he was given the opportunity to correct himself. The teacher made sure no student was left out and they did their best to keep the students’ attention!! Thank you so much!! I Look forward to something like this next school year!”
  • “My son gained more confidence and elevated his math skills...he also improved his spelling and reading comprehension.”
  • “My daughter's reading and math skills improved a lot. When I hear her reading, I am so impressed.” 

Reading: Students in Kindergarten to grade 2 have opportunities to engage with an online program called iREAD. This interactive digital program promotes reading efficiency and excites readers. Additionally, teachers can adjust instruction to meet the individual needs of students. During the month of April, there were 4 coaching sessions held to assist teachers with using this program. The following elementary schools were session sites: Mary Harris Mother Jones, District Heights, Cora Rice, and Oxon Hill. April 2021 Coaching Report Summary

Friday, April 16, was the kick-off of the 10 Day--200 Minute iRead Challenge. Students were encouraged to complete as many lessons as possible over the course of the challenge (April 16-25, 2021). Students were given at least one hour to complete the challenge on the following tutoring days (April 15th, April 22nd, and April 26th). Student progress was monitored. A second 10 Day Challenge was completed at the end of May.

Results: Overall, students increased their usage and growth within the platform. There were 11 winners out of 50 participants who were selected based on students’ progress in at least two topics within the program between April 16th - April 27th. Top winners were celebrated in their tutoring groups and received a *prize. Another campaign was launched at the end of May for the final tutoring session.  There were 10 winners out of 60 participants who were selected based on the same criteria.

*[Prizes included Chick-fil-A gift cards for a free chicken meal (30 gift cards were donated by Chick-fil-A at Capital Blvd.), Chick-fil-A free cookie gift cards, books donated by Scholastic, and free Slurpee coupons from 7-Eleven]. 

Elementary school sites with April’s winners:

  • Bradbury Heights- 1 first grader
  • Cora Rice- 2 kindergartners
  • Hillcrest Heights- 1 second grader
  • Laurel- 1 second grader
  • Princeton- 1 kindergartner
  • Rose Valley- 1 kindergartner and 1 second grader
  • Springhill Lake- 1 second grader
  • William Hall Academy- 1 first grader and 1 second grader

Elementary school sites with May’s winners:

  • Bradbury Heights- 1 kindergartner
  • Clinton Grove- 1 kindergartner
  • Cora Rice- 1 first grader
  • Hillcrest Heights- 1 first grader
  • Rose Valley- 1 kindergartner
  • Samuel P. Massey- 1 kindergartner and 1 second grader
  • Springhill Lake- 1 first grader
  • Waldon Woods- 1 kindergartner
  • William Hall Academy- 1 first grader

Mathematics: Teachers who needed support with using DreamBox reports for instructional decisions were invited to attend a virtual workshop. On April 27th, 48 teachers of grades K-2 attended and on April 28th, 28 teachers took advantage of the professional development (teacher attendance per grade level). Then, on May 26th, 99 teachers of grades K-2 attended and on May 27th, 79 teachers took advantage of the professional development. Virtual sessions were held to support teachers with utilizing DreamBox student reports to assign individualized content to students over the summer based on skills needed for the next grade level (teacher attendance per grade level). In an effort to provide continuity of services, DreamBox will continue during summer school. As part of the students’ summer instruction, they will work on DreamBox in a small group for 30 minutes while a teacher monitors their progress. Training for 216 instructors to implement this summer session was conducted on June 29, 2021.