Bursting into Flame
When last we wrote, we suggested that our work in a SW Colorado elementary school was beginning to gain notice across the district and burst into flame. In the past 6 months, that is indeed what has occurred. DES was invited to present the concept of proficiency ladders to the district principals and central office staff in the Spring of 2015. There were ten schools present: 6 elementary schools, 2 middle schools and 1 high school. Of those schools at the initial presentation (The original Year 1 school (Y1 cohort)) is moving to the next level of personalized implementation) 3 more elementary schools, 1 middle school and the high school (Y2 cohort) expressed interest in introducing proficiency ladders to their staffs. When faced with the following questions, the leaders of these schools realized there was challenging work to do at their schools:
1) Do your students come to you ready to learn grade level standards?
2) Do your students know what they need to learn to be successful their current grade level?
3) Do you students track their growth towards proficiency on grade level standards?
When the staff was asked how these tools would support student learning, they replied:
- Increases student ownership of learning
- Assists students and teachers in understanding the direction /purpose and relevancy of the standards
- Presents learning to parents and the community
- Provides students with a sense of responsibility and achievement
- Creates a safe and helpful learning environment
- Places value on learning as opposed to getting grades
- Provides data to drive instruction
- Requires differentiation
- Increases a growth mindset
- Supports progress monitoring of RtI/SPED IEP goals
- Teaches students skills they can take beyond HS
DES suggested that proficiency ladders with the proper training of staff would help and support the vision of all students reaching proficiency. The Chief Academic Officer of the district was very supportive of these schools and provided initial funding for the ladders, initial professional development, and coaching throughout the year began in the Fall of 2015. An “Ah-Ha” for the group was how these tools would also identify and support each school’s RtI efforts.
DES planned with principals, differentiated and carried out the initial training of all staff at these five schools. This is an organic, soft, roll-out working only with volunteers who see the value of these tools in their classroom. This is an increase from 30 Y1 cohort teachers to over 100 Y2 cohort teachers beginning to implement proficiency ladders in their classrooms. DES is excited to return to these schools this month to support the implementation and celebrate successes. We will keep you posted!