On a daily basis all staff members take seriously the charge that is laid out in the mission statement of the District, which is to prepare students for college, career, and life. All schools have been hard at work to ensure that student achievement improves through meeting the specific academic needs of each student. In the summer of 2013, a series of academic improvement strategies was created in response to Ohio’s new local report card. Below is a summary of the work that has been undertaken with these strategies:
1. Weekly Review Sheets – Reading sheets for grades 2 – 6 and math sheets for grades 2 – 8 have been created. These sheets give students additional practice with content about one to two weeks after it is covered in class. Student performance on review sheets allows teachers to target intervention to specific student needs. The parent page that provides access to the weekly review sheets can be found here.
2. Academic Vocabulary Initiative – An analysis of District test data exposed an overall weakness in academic vocabulary for students at all grade levels. To improve students’ ability to successfully navigate unfamiliar text, grade level vocabulary lists have been created as a tool for increasing students’ ‘word inventory’. All students will be tested on their grade level word lists in April 2014. To learn more about the background on this initiative and to view the grade level lists, click here.
3. Plus 5 Data Strategy – A rallying point for all teachers this year is the phrase, ‘growth for every student’. Our charge is ensuring that all students experience a year’s worth of academic growth in a year’s worth of time, regardless of their academic starting point. To achieve this, all teachers are focused on growing each student 5 points from their previous year’s Ohio Achievement Assessment score. If every child in the District experiences this type of growth, overall academic results will increase dramatically.
4. Common Assessment Plan – In order to reach the goal of growing every student 5 points from last year’s test results, a common assessment plan has been developed in order to provide ongoing data that measures student progress. In grades K – 8, students are participating in the STAR Reading and Math tests four times throughout the year. In addition, students will participate in a District created assessment that closely resembles the Ohio Achievement Assessments. At HHS, students are taking practice tests in each OGT area in order to determine individual student needs. As these tests are spread throughout the year, teachers are able to use the ongoing results to track student progress and provide specific supports in areas of need. To learn more about the common assessment plan, click here.
5. Weekly Intervention Sessions – The data from common assessments allows teachers to plan intervention sessions for students. As the District prepares for the OGT and OAA tests, the expectation is that intervention sessions occur at least once per week inside of the regular school day. In many buildings, intervention sessions are happening several times per week. The focus is on meeting needs of students by targeting interventions towards specific skills, based on data. The result is a system of supports that are targeted and focused, allowing teachers and students to maximize the intervention time. Over and above intervention that occurs during the school day, many buildings are also offering before and after school intervention sessions for students.
6. Extra Support Personnel – The final piece of the District academic improvement plan involves providing targeted short term academic support personnel to elementary and middle school buildings. Each building has identified specific academic areas where the data indicates students are in need of additional supports in order to experience success on the Ohio Achievement Assessments. The District is providing up to four additional short term personnel per building to assist in these targeted areas. This will allow for greater personalization of instructional supports and flexibility for working with small groups of students. As a District we are striving to meet the unique learning needs of all students, and the additional support this strategy provides allows for more targeted intervention work to occur.
The Hamilton City School District is deeply aware of the responsibility for ensuring that all students learn and grow. The relationship between the District and the Hamilton community is a trust that the District works to uphold on a daily basis. The six improvement strategies have been designed to build upon one another, with the end goal of creating a rich fabric of academic supports that improve outcomes for all learners.