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Winter I-Ready Update Presented To Board Of Education



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On February 22, Director of Teaching and Learning Kara DiBartolo briefed the Board of Education on results of the latest i-Ready test conducted in grades two through eight.

Those students take the i-Ready test three times during each school year to assess math and English Language Arts (ELA) capabilities, with results pointing to whether they are performing below, above, or meeting grade level.

According to DiBartolo, the data is used as a universal screener to identify students who are excelling or may need additional support.

DiBartolo introduced the board to a color code that sorted students in five level placements: mid or above grade level performance; early grade level performance; one grade level below; two grade levels below; and three or more grade levels below.

Then, DiBartolo showed the board a graph of the overall reading placements with fall and winter results side by side. She noted that 55 percent of students performing at early, mid, or above grade level had increased to 67 percent.

Next, DiBartolo broke down the overall reading results into “domains” — six components of ELA learning, and compared the fall and winter results.

“Our strengths fall within the foundational skills of phonological awareness, phonics, and high frequency words,” she explained. “Our areas of growth, as it appears, are vocabulary and comprehension.”

She also specified that within comprehension, the most growth had been made in the literature domain.

Referencing results from Fall 2021 and comparing them to the recent winter assessment, DiBartolo said, “Growth has been made in comprehension and vocabulary, the most being within the literature domain.”

When it came to reading results by grade, she told the board, “Each grade level has made growth.”

Math Placement

DiBartolo then moved to the overall data for math that showed 41 percent of students performed in early, mid, and above grade level in the fall, while 56 percent performed below. But in the winter, 63 percent were shown to have performed in early, mid, and above while 37 percent were performing below.

She referenced a widespread deterioration of math skills far beyond the local district when discussing Newtown’s “slightly lower performance,” reminding the board that national “research shows it takes five to seven years to recover from COVID in terms of schooling in our students.”

Breaking down the four domains DiBartolo described algebra and algebraic thinking and geometry as an “area of focus,” and said geometry has been an “area of focus” in the past, as well.

When comparing the results by grade, DiBartolo reported all grades made growth from below grade level to early, mid, and above grade level bands. She said Grade 4 made the most growth — from 19 percent in mid and above grade level placement to 46 percent mid and above grade level placement in the winter.

DiBartolo suggested performance may be related to the district being in its early years implementing two new learning programs into the district. “Typically it takes about three to five years to see a significant improvement in student data as well as student achievement,” she said.

DiBartolo also said that there are other data points to corroborate those from iReady in order to determine student needs.

Growth By Grade

While presenting the average reading and math growth for grades two through eight, for reading, students in grades three and six on average exceeded typical growth expected for the year, while other grades have not met expectations.

For math, none of the grades show students on average achieving the typical growth of 50 percent as expected.

“At this point in the year, we do expect students to be meeting 50 percent of their typical growth,” DiBartolo said. “Keep in mind, this is an average.”

In summarizing the presentation, DiBartolo suggested what the district might do next, “keeping in mind that i-Ready is one data point, and we really want to look at the other data points we have within our schools.”

Action steps as presented, included:

*Implementing new reading programming in grades K through 4

*Exploring changes in reading instruction in grades 5 through 8

*Supporting implementation of Bridges and Into Math programs

*At Newtown Middle School, engaging students in the goal-setting process to help them take ownership of their own learning

*Continuing to use data to inform multi-tiered systems of supports (MTSS) for students in need of targeted instruction

*Monitoring interventions to ensure fidelity of implementation and adequate progress

*Analyzing instructional practices for improvement through consistent use of learning walks

*Planning professional development related to student learning trends

Concluding the presentation, DiBartolo left the board with a final observation: “We have a lot going on based on what our students need, based on what our teachers need in order to move forward toward proficiency.”

Reporter Noelle Veillette can be reached at noelle@thebee.com.

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