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EL Education’s ELA Curriculum Helps Glasgow Middle School Students Boost Test Scores

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    Glasgow Daily Times file photo

Glasgow Middle School (GMS) Principal Regina Murphy described the school’s “much more rigorous” and “very well rated” new language arts curriculum, from EL Education, during her recent update to the board of education. The results of the adoption couldn’t be more convincing: GMS students performed better than the state average in every subject area on the 2018 Kentucky Performance Rating for Educational Progress (K-PREP) test. In particular, students attained a score of proficient or distinguished on assessment in reading—61.4 percent, compared to the state average of 60.0 percent—and writing—51.0, compared to the state average of 44.3 percent.

Read more about the school’s stellar performance here or below.

Teaching the Individual: GMS Principal Discusses Instructional Strategies

By Will Perkins
December 20, 2018

Earlier this month, Glasgow Middle School Principal Regina Murphy spoke to members of the Glasgow Independent Schools Board of Education about instructional strategies being implemented at the middle school.

Murphy said their teachers are “tracking our non-negotiables — what skills our kids absolutely have to have.”

“If they do not have those skills, we’re going back and working with those kids independently to make sure they have what they need to move forward,” she said during the board’s December meeting at Glasgow High School. “Last year when we started our year, we used our curriculum maps, made sure that everybody was on the same spot horizontally and vertically — so we want to continue that, make sure we are staying where we need to be instructionally.”

According to data released earlier this year by the Kentucky Department of Education, GMS students performed better than the state average in every subject area on the 2018 Kentucky Performance Rating for Educational Progress (K-PREP) test. GMS had the following percentage of students score a Proficient or Distinguished on the 2018 K-PREP assessment in the following subject areas:

  • Reading—61.4 percent, compared to the state average of 60.0 percent
  • Mathematics—63.8 percent, compared to the state average of 47.0 percent
  • Science—26.6, compared to the state average of 25.9 percent
  • Social Studies—65.4, compared to the state average of 60.2 percent
  • Writing On-Demand—51.0, compared to the state average of 44.3 percent

“We started common assessments last year for the first time, and we’re refining those,” Murphy said. “Trying to make sure they’re rigorous for our kids so that they’re prepared.”

Murphy said they look at individual student data to make sure each student is progressing, regardless of their skill level.

“We implemented the power paragraph last year and took a huge jump in our writing scores,” she said. “We have refined that even more this year using it across curriculum and seeing even more gains within our writing for our kids.”

Murphy said while their math instructors have been able to get professional development through Laying the Foundation, they were able to include science and language arts teachers this year, “and that’s a made a difference and put more rigor into our science and into our language arts classrooms.”

“Something that we’ve started working on this year a little more is our novice reduction strategies — effective feedback and direct, explicit instruction,” she said. “That effective feedback is so critical in the writing part where kids need to know what they do well and what they need help with.

“General feedback is not cutting it, so we have to give our kids really specific feedback so they know what they do well and they need to do better with.”

GIS Superintendent Keith Hale previously stated in a GIS press release that the school district uses overall and individual student data “to grow students.”

“We have every confidence that growth data will continue to trend upward and we will continue to graduate amazing students,” Hale said. “We want all of our schools to represent centers for learning, growth and opportunity.”

During the December board meeting, Michelle Tinsley, GIS supervisor of instruction, discussed the Comprehensive District Improvement Plan.

“Our District Improvement Plan focuses on strategies and avenues to support the schools through state and national professional learning, research-based strategies, data monitoring and expectations outlined in the district strategic plan,” Tinsley said. “The Striving Readers Literacy Grant has provided us with professional learning experience, research-based construction strategies and monitoring tools to assist in student growth.

“Our district will participate in monitoring in February and March. John Hopkins University is a partner in this process, several staff will be trained in the monitoring tools that will be utilized.

“It’s been phenomenal. It’s afforded us a lot of opportunities and resources.”

Tinsley said the school district has launched a Google Certification Initiative, “which we’re all really excited about, to get our staff and our teachers all at least Google (Level) 1 certified.”

“We are hoping that all staff will be certified in two years,” she said. “And this will help largely with collaboration within our schools and among our schools.”

The school district has also been taking a “critical look at stakeholder collaboration,” Tinsley said. “We all have realized that we need to include our stakeholders more — our parents, our students and community — so that’s something that we will strive for as well.”

Murphy said the Striving Readers Literacy Grant has helped provide professional development across the curriculum, so that the school’s science and social studies teachers “have an idea of what that power paragraph looks like, or what reading strategies in science and social studies need to look like so that the kids can understand the concepts they need to in those classes.”

“We did go to a new language arts curriculum, which is expeditionary learning,” Murphy added. “It’s much more rigorous. It is very well rated.

“Our kids are making improvements which has been a big blessing for us.” •