Our core curriculum lessons were developed using the determined mindsets and behaviors for our grade levels, the student, parent and teachers needs assessments and the goals of the administration and district. These lessons are directly in support of our vision and mission to support students being 21st century learners, having a positive attitude towards work and learning and being global citizens. We decided to analyze our lessons and results for our academic goal of increasing standardized tests scores as we have not been performing as well with our new computer-based system called Ohio AIR tests as we did when they were OAA tests and paper-based. The academic goal is also our closing the gap goal, with the focus of increasing tests scores for students with a low socioeconomic status.
The academic goal of our core curriculum was our closing the gap goal on improving test scores for students with a low socioeconomic background. Our first lesson working towards our academic goal was presented in the beginning of the school year as a video lesson to all IE (Intervention/Enrichment classes). This lesson covered basic strategies for success in classes, as these two years at the middle school are the first in which students navigate their own individual schedules and are responsible for getting themselves from class to class. As determined especially in the teachers’ needs assessment, we spent a great deal of time addressing growth mindset. According to the pretests and posttests, students’ knowledge on growth mindset and the strategies for success increased 21%, which shows that it was a valuable lesson in its delivery method of video presentation and its content. This lesson also received a large amount of teacher praise for being very pertinent to their classrooms. Due to the increase in content knowledge gained, it is necessary to continue this lesson in future years. We could also use the pretest information to identify students for small groups to improve academic skills.
Our other two lessons were presented in the few weeks before testing began. Through needs assessments, we determined that there is a large amount of test anxiety, particularly around the standardized tests being computer-based. While teachers exposed their students more to computer-based testing this year as a staff, the school counselors presented a video lesson during Intervention/Enrichment period on identifying and dealing with test anxiety. We listed several easy strategies to try and had students practice them during the lesson. The perception data shows a 25% increase in knowledge of the content of the lesson, which indicates that it is useful and should be continued in future years. For the future, the pre-test and post-test data could help us identify students who need more intensive help with test anxiety improvement strategies, which would require us to do this lesson earlier to allow more time to meet with these students before the standardized testing.
Finally, the week before testing was kicked off, we presented our “Do Your Best on the AIR Test” lesson. We had never done this lesson before. This was a video presentation in our Intervention/Enrichment period as well and included videos from staff and groups of students encouraging all students to do their best. While the perception data showed an already high understanding of the content on how to do your best on the test, like eating a good breakfast before the test, for example, we still feel like the content of the lesson and the timing of it right before testing begins is valid. We do feel that we need to rework the pretest and posttest questions to be more specific to the content of the lesson and less general to inform counselors on knowledge gained directly from the lesson. For outcome data, our school improved in all tested areas. Students that are identified as economically disadvantaged also improved as a group with an increase of 25.3% in ELA and 13.7% in math passing the AIR tests for the 2016-17 school year, so the outcome data shows that this lesson was helpful in working towards this goal. The content will be continued next year, but updated with current students and staff for the videos, and updated for current testing protocols and guidelines.