Thursday, August 8, 2013

Duval County Teacher Academy - Day 4

The Iowa, DAR, and TTS
The day started with a presentation on the Iowa which has been around since the 70's.  In fact, I think I gave it early in my career!  It all comes back around!  The Iowa, Form E is a whole group test, a screening.  It is still owned by the authors (Florence Roswell and Jeanne Chall) who consider it their life's work but is sold by the publisher. Its origin is in the Harvard Reading Lab.  Although the Iowa tests Reading, ELA, Math, Science and Social Studies, in Duval we will only be giving the Reading section.  Grades 1-5 will be taking it in the Fall and then K-5 in the Spring.  Kindergarten does not take it in the Fall because the authors do not believe that results are valid!  Now, I like that! Kindergartners, however, will need to know how to bubble a bubble sheet.  Now I don't like that!  Evidently there are some practice tests that the kinders can take to practice bubbling in.  The Iowa tests have to be sent off to be scored (Test Coordinators were warned to package them according to directions) which takes about 15 business days.  The catch is that no test is scored until every test in the County is sent in - now that could be a problem in our very large county!
Teachers will receive a detailed report through the Data Manager which is web-based.  Looks like lots of different reports can be generated including a test for the Parents.  ESE teachers and both homeroom teachers will have access to their students' data, as long as the test administrator puts all that information in correctly from the beginning.
The Iowa will identify students that need to take the DAR (Development Assessment of Reading) which is an individually administered diagnostic assessment (could take up to an hour to give).  Basically students under a certain percentage will be candidates for this extra one-on-one testing. This diagnostic is scored immediately in areas such as the following:  Print Awareness, Phonological Awareness, Letters and Sounds, Word Recognition (1st grade starts here), Word Analysis, Oral Reading, Silent Reading Comprehension, Word Meaning.  Although kinders do not take the Iowa in the Fall, strugglers can be given the DAR.
The TTS (Trial Teaching Strategies)  are a series of short lessons that link instruction to assessment.   They are the strategies and resources for teaching the identified strands of the DAR.  Lessons that have been included by the authors are those that provide the quickest results for success, backed up by research.
How does this effect us?
  • This system of screening and then Diagnostic with researched lessons seems like a very comprehensive program.
  • It is nice not to have our kinders take the Iowa in the Fall but it will still take preparation to get them ready for this 40 minutes test in the Spring. 
  • If kinders take the Iowa in the Spring, we have nothing to compare it to (no Fall test) and the students will have to take the 1st grade Iowa in the Fall  as a pre-test so I am not sure what purpose there is in taking it in the Spring for kindergarten...
  • Looking at the section of the DAR that are for kinders, I am reminded of the areas on the FAIR so it might be worth cross referencing these two tests since we are required to give every student the FAIR pre-test as part of the FLKRS.  For instance, both assessments seem to ask the students to name the letters of the alphabet and the sound that each letter makes.  Maybe it would be easier to give this paper and pencil and then transfer the results to each test...  That might need more investigation but anyway we can save time and be more efficient gives us back instructional time. 
  • I am wondering if the DAR might be the test we give to identify our RtI students and then use the results for a Tier 2 intervention in a small group in the room.
I am also wondering if the TTS might be new ideas for our Skills Block.  Would be interesting to spend some time looking at these researched activities.
Since we don't give the Iowa in the fall, we still don't have a way to place students into text.  Historically many of our students come into kindergarten already reading, so we really can't wait until the spring, when we do give the Iowa, to get them into conventional text.  It looks like we will continue to introduce Star Books and to use the Sulzby levels to begin kindergarten and then to continue to use the Level 7 Sulzby to know that children are ready for a DRA (this work taken from Lucy Calkins).  Looks like we still need the DRA to move students appropriately through levels.
On a personal note, it is interesting to me that we are going back to a more diagnostic prescriptive approach which was so popular when I was in graduate school in the late 70's. As part of my graduate fellowship I taught an undergraduate course in Diagnostic Prescriptive teaching.  The principles are the same today...
The next presentation of the day was Success Maker, another oldie, but goodie Pearson product, with a 45 year history (anyone remember CCC, its predecessor).  Although this online program is available for both Math and Reading, only Reading was bought by Duval County.  
  • can use over the summer
  •  almost game-like (from the Atari era)
  •  requires headphones and microphones to operate 
  • includes an initial placement/ testing phase
  • includes assessment in Concepts of Print, Phonological Awareness, Fluency, Phonics, Vocabulary, Comprehension, Spelling 2-5, and Grammar 2-5.
  • has guided practice embedded
  • passwords will be available when we get to school (haven't seen them yet!)
  • meant to be used for 20 minutes by every student every day
  • only 30 site licenses have been purchased for each school which means that only 30 students can be on the program at the same time
  • How does this effect us? 
  • First of all, it seems almost impossible to operate a rotation such as this in a school of 1250 students with only 30 students being able to be on the computer at a time.  I also doubt that we have the number of computers, headphones and mikes to pull this off.  We probably should invite  the Duval rep, Elain Zirakian ( to come visit and make suggestions for the best implementation.  Maybe she has worked with other schools with the same challenges.
  • I am thinking that, at least for right now, this might be a Tier 2 reading intervention program in the classroom 3 times a week. I am wondering if we can use the DAR diagnostic to place students into these strands so students don't have to do another assessment - saving time for instruction.  If the Tier 2 is not successful, the program could be taken to 5 days a week in a pull-out Tier 3. 
  • Katie Moeller finished off the day with a reading of Piggie by Don and Audrey Wood.  While I have seen Lucy Calkins and others do close readings of text, they always tend to use 3rd grade or much higher level work in their demonstrations.  This is the first lesson I have seen at the Kindergarten level.  Dr. Moeller says she has demonstrated this lesson many times in kindergarten, first and second.  It might be well worth our time to invite her to come and demonstrate it for us with all kindergarten and first grade teachers watching for one of our first Common plannings. I know our teachers would love to see someone do a close reading with our youngest learners as much as I would.  She talks about the scaffolding and struggling and I think that is one of the things we need to see.  Her questions are tough and she talks about the students looking at her blankly but staying with the questions and how she has to scaffold them to dig out the answers.  I think that's the part we need to see.
  • One other interesting note to those that might still be having difficulty seeing the Curriculum guides at, you must have Explorer 8 to run the guides.  It was pushed out through the system so you may have to go to school and plug your laptop into the network to get the fix.  She cautioned against printing the guides because you lose about 80% of the capabilities and because the guides will be updated without notice and so you may be teaching from outdated lessons.


JJ Brown said...

Wow, that's a lot to take in.

dayle timmons said...

@ JJ - No kidding!