Friday, May 4, 2012

A Focused Approach to Learning Will Help All Students Succeed

Student Achievement Best Practices

student achievement best practices
By Bobby Moore, Senior Director of Effective Practices at Battelle for Kids

The question of how we help students reach their full potential is at the core of our work at Battelle for Kids. Since 2008, we have been studying highly effective teachers and principals in Ohio, Tennessee, and Texas based on value-added data to uncover what they do that makes them so effective and how these lessons can be used to improve the practice of all educators. We also developed SOAR, one of the largest school-improvement collaboratives in the country, to help Ohio districts use value-added analysis to improve teaching and accelerate student progress.

Last month, I wrote a guest blog (Job-Embedded Professional Development Critical for Successful Implementation of the Common Core) about the importance of job-embedded professional development as one of three strategies with the highest impact in accelerating student progress and achievement. The other two were building capacity around formative instructional practices system-wide and adopting a systemic approach to struggling (and advanced) students. Let’s take a deeper look at all three strategies in the context of helping students succeed.

1. Building capacity around formative instructional practices system-wide. The research is clear: formative instructional practices (FIP) are one of the best investments we can make for student learning. Often called formative assessment or assessment for learning, FIP is the formal and informal way that teachers and students gather and respond to evidence of student learning. FIP is about:
  • Using clear learning targets;
  • Collecting and documenting evidence of student learning;
  • Providing effective feedback; and
  • Encouraging students to take ownership of their learning.
Battelle for Kids has created online modules and learning resources to help a school or district “FIP their School.”

2. Adopting a systemic approach to struggling (and advanced) students. In an era where teachers are expected to grow students at all skill levels, the old Response to Intervention (RTI) model for responding only to struggling students is quickly becoming obsolete. Schools must develop an RTI model in which teachers respond to students who master material as well as those who need more assistance to grasp the curriculum. As states move to include student growth measures in evaluations, educators who are only good at growing struggling students may not be identified as highly effective.

3. Purposeful collaboration or job-embedded professional development. We know professional development needs to be embedded into each day and throughout the year. However, teachers cannot just be asked to collaborate, collect, and analyze data, or work as a team. There must be a commitment to develop teachers’ skills, structures, and procedures to engage in purposeful collaboration. Educators must learn how to:
  • Create collaborative norms;
  • Collect and analyze data (value-added analysis, formative and summative assessment information);
  •  Challenge each other’s assumptions and mental models;
  • Facilitate effective meetings;
  • Lead change; and
  • Deal with resistance.
When fully developed, these functioning qualities of a high-performing team will have an immediate impact on improving school culture and preparing every child to succeed in college, in their careers, and in life.

Bobby Moore is the Senior Director of Effective Practices at Battelle for Kids, a not-for-profit organization that works with states and school districts and across the country to improve educator effectiveness and accelerate student growth. He can be reached at

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