The Rasch unIT (RIT) is a stable scale utilized to measures student’s academic growth over time. During the 2016-2017 end of year Connecting the Dots meeting, the counseling department saw that the average RIT score for the spring semester of the entire school was 217.1 in reading, putting the average student between a 6th and 7th grade reading level. When this data was disaggregated, ELL students were at the bottom of the scale with an average RIT score of 188.3 categorizing them at a second grade reading level. As a result, the school improvement plan for the 2017-2018 school year identified the need to bridge this academic gap by providing specialized support for ELL students. For this reason, the counseling department piloted the peer tutoring program pairing students with the highest RIT scores in the fall to ones with the lowest.
The activities selected for the peer tutoring program were chosen as a result of their connection to MAP testing. Learning Odyssey is an online program connected to MAP scores and provides activities that strengthens areas of lowest performance. As a result, students are able to strengthen their areas of lowest performance and improve scores. The reading comprehension passage was chosen in collaboration with the ELA Department Chair. She provided passages similar to ones on the MAP test. Being familiar with the difficulty level and questions being asked could give students a better chance of improving MAP scores. The vocabulary section was developed in collaboration with the reading ELL teacher. Words reviewed were taken directly from the content being revised in class.
In addition to these activities, the counselor provided a greater level of intervention to both groups of students at the beginning of the program in order to facilitate the tutor-tutee relationship. The counselor met with the group of tutors and tutees separately before the onset of the program to provide instruction, guidelines, and assure readiness. Following the program’s takeoff, the counselor met with each tutee individually to discuss their RIT scores and how to maximize their peer tutoring time. The counselor met with tutors individually as requested.
The perception data presented involves a chart with tutee and tutors’ answers as they were written on the survey. The chart was presented in this form in order to capture and honor all students’ responses for the purpose of rendering a true representation of their overall attitude and experience. The data was also helpful in identifying preferences and disposition toward the program. Although there was a positive attitude overall, one student presented with a negative disposition, which changed by the end of the semester. However, learning more about this student’s initial thoughts would have been beneficial for possible changes to the program. One way to accomplish this in the future is by expanding the survey instrument to include questions that further assess perception.
Continuing to track RIT scores is a suitable quantitative measure. However, revisions to the pre/post survey would be beneficial in order to have more accurate data about students’ perception, knowledge, and attitude. Moving from paper based to an electronic method of data collection will also help with accuracy and efficiency.
Data revealed that students had a positive attitude toward collaborating with each other, learning, overcoming barriers, utilizing media and technology, working on oral and communication skills per ASCA’s mindsets and behaviors. As a result, the standards will continue being the center when implementing the program next school year.
Overall, students showed a preference for the vocabulary review which was facilitated by flashcards, Quizlet and Kahoot! As a result, those activities will be preserved should the program continue during second semester. Some students also mentioned enjoying Learning Odyssey which will also be preserved. None of the students reported that they enjoyed the reading passage station which indicates a need for modifications.