Thursday, April 24th, 2014

Curriculum & Assessment Tools

CORE CURRICULUM OVERVIEW

ENGLISH/LANGUAGE ARTS, SOCIAL STUDIES, MATHEMATICS AND SCIENCE

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Our kindergarten and third grade classrooms now use the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt based program that supports New York State and the Common Core standards in literacy, and also touches on science, mathematics, social studies, art and music. It includes children’s books, flip charts, picture cards, song books, puppets, student workbooks, a full battery of assessments, and vocabulary cards. This program supports our philosophy of providing a rich, liberal arts curriculum through experiential learning, which allows room for “teachable moments” that are critical when working with young children.

Imagine Me Leadership Charter School implements the Journey’s & Go Math program in its

kindergarten and third grade classrooms. Our use of this program will help bridge the gap for children and families by providing an opportunity for consistency in their educational continuum. This curriculum complements our philosophy, which will enable usto prepare our boys cognitively, intellectually, morally, physically and socially toward the goal of improving the global economy and instilling in each child a love for life-long learning.

Core Knowledge

IMLCS implements the Core Knowledge program as a rigorous and distinguished supplement to its core curriculum. By clearly specifying important knowledge in language arts, history, geography, math, science, and the fine arts, the Core Knowledge program offers a practical answer to the question, “What do our children need to know?”  Our teachers are free to devote their energies and efforts to creatively planning how to teach the content to our boys.

ASSESSMENT TOOLS

State Diagnostic Tests

Benchmark Assessments

Every 4-6 weeks, all IMLCS students take interim benchmark assessments in reading, social studies and science, which allow us to determine what each student learned, knows and is able to do, in terms of mastery of standards and skills.  We use the results from these assessments to establish strategic action plans for re-teaching, intervention, enrichment, re-grouping, differentiation, one-on-one tutoring, and targeted practice.

 

Metacognitive Assessment

We believe that every student should not only be responsible for his or her own learning, but have an awareness of their own knowledge and ability to understand, control and manipulate their own cognitive processes (Cognitive Skills, 2007).  Metacognitive assessment allows students to self-identify and overcome learning barriers by understanding their personal approach.  We plan to implement metacognitive assessment in the following categories:

1. Metamemory: The learners’ awareness of and knowledge about their own memory systems, and self-identifying strategies for using their memories effectively.

2. Metacomprehension: The learners ability to monitor the degree to which they understand information being communicated to them; to recognize failures to comprehend; and to implement repair strategies when failures are identified (i.e., The fluent reader that finishes a reading passage without even knowing that he/she did not understand).

3. Self-Regulation: The learners’ ability to make adjustments in their own learning processes in response to feedback.  The learners maintain attitudes of resilience and become capable of adequately selecting, employing, monitoring, and evaluating their use of strategies.

Research suggests (2007) that Metacognitive learners derive meaning and make adjustments when something “goes wrong” and encourages students to “self-talk” as an automatic process (Metacognitive Skills, 2007).  Metacognition also influences learners to be metacognitive, critical thinkers, mindful of how they learn and have the ability to set personal learning goals to avoid failure.  Metacognitive learners regularly self-assess and adjust their performance. Tomilson and McTighe (2006) found that metacognitive strategies can be taught and student achievement benefits can be noteworthy (Tomilson & McTighe, 2006).  Keeping with research-based best practices, IMLCS will require all students to take periodic metacognitive assessments in academic and non-academic subject areas. Teachers will be trained to use formal and informal metacognitive assessments before, during and after testing.

Computer-Adaptive Tests

In addition, we will use computer software that provides on-going assessments of students’ skill development. IMLCS will use computer-adaptive tests (CATs)—also called tailored testing—to assess students’ abilities in reading and mathematics on a periodic basis.  CAT’s, based on what students already know, will be administered with a fixed set of items administered to all students.  Computer-adaptive tests are challenging and require fewer test items to arrive at equally accurate scores.  Conveniently, computer adaptive tests provide scores immediately to students, teachers, administrators, and parents.  IMLCS plans to research multiple CATs and consult with successful local schools to obtain recommendations for first-rate models.

Formative and Summative Assessments

Formative assessments will be used school-wide, on a daily basis, to adapt instructional methods to meet all learners’ needs. Classroom and resource teachers and coaches will use methods that provide constant feedback, such as questioning. Within the realm of questioning, classroom teachers will support strong, standards-based instructional practices with whole class, peer and “turn-and-talk” discussions, all supported by rubrics that measure students’ comprehension of subject material. Student performance will be used to tailor instruction to meet the individual student’s needs.

Summative assessments will be issued to students after subject material has been taught and reviewed by classroom teachers. Classroom teachers will assess all students after units of material on a school-wide, scheduled basis and use additional teacher-generated summative assessments during units at their professional discretion. These assessments will include:

●      computer-generated;

●      portfolio content; and

●       comprehension.

All summative assessments will be generated to gain knowledge of students’ mastery of subject material and to diagnose each student’s weaknesses and strengths in the respective content material. On a school-wide basis, this data will be disseminated to plan for instructional strategies to maximize the learning acumen of each student.

Teacher-Generated Assessments

Each classroom and resource teacher will be encouraged and have the autonomy to use formal and informal teacher-generated assessments to measure students’ understanding of subject material. Each respective teacher will then use the data to make improvements to their own instructional practices, tailor instruction to meet individual student needs, and share this data with their grade-level teams at collaborative meetings. These assessments may include handwritten or typed quizzes, reading reflections, performance rubrics, behavioral rubrics, and peer-assessed group rubrics.

Performance-Based Assessments

Each classroom and resource teacher will use performance-based assessments as a part of each subject material’s curriculum. Within Writer’s Workshop, each classroom teacher will evaluate student performance on the unit using an overall rubric that focuses on the specific writing skills taught within a writing unit. Formative assessments will be used throughout the unit to measure student progress within each writing unit. For mathematics instruction, each classroom teacher will use the provided performance-based, summative assessments after each unit is taught. During each mathematics unit, each classroom teacher will use formative and teacher-generated assessments to track student growth throughout the unit and school year. These assessments may include “exit” slips where students solve a mathematical problem and/or explain a concept in their own words immediately after a lesson; which both provide instant feedback on a lesson’s mastery by each individual student. Each classroom teacher will also use standards-based, school-generated rubrics that measure student ability and performance in areas of artistic expression. These may include: drama; visual arts; choral and instrumental music; dance, and poetry/performance art, among others.