This school year I have had the opportunity to participate in a Principals Academy for the elementary math and science core curriculum. One of the presenters at the academy asked,with all of the expectations we have on teachers in regards to high-stakes testing and student growth, why do we set elementary teachers up to fail? He went on to explain that traditionally elementary teachers are expected to teach multiple different subjects yet are expected to provide the same quality instruction in each of those classes as a teacher assigned to teach one or two subjects. While listening I found myself wondering what we could do at MMS to help our sixth grade teachers and students have the greatest opportunity for success. During a recent PLC I shared with the sixth grade team the things I had learned and was thinking about to get their ideas on how we could make changes to enhance student learning.
As you know, more and more emphasis is being placed on high-stake testing and student growth. Traditionally, student growth has been determined by the results of the annual Spring CRT. Next year the state will begin using a new adaptive testing system to better understand and recognize student growth. This system will allow teachers and administrators the opportunity to view and evaluate student growth on multiple occasions throughout the school year instead of on an annual basis.
In an effort to enhance student learning in the sixth grade next year, we are going to provide our teachers with the opportunity to specialize in two subject areas instead of preparing to teach four or more subjects each day. This will allow teachers to be able to collaborate with each other to create common assessments and determine how the curriculum should be presented to best enhance student understanding. Teachers will be able to prepare and go into greater depth in their subjects. As part of this depth, teachers will be able to identify needs for interventions and enhancements and develop instruction so that all students can have the greatest chance for success.
Students will continue to have a homeroom teacher/advisor; however, they will then have the opportunity to benefit from being able to learn from a variety of teaching styles in the different subject areas. We are excited about the potential for increased student learning.