Monday, September 24, 2012

Explained by the numbers – AAIMS

Arkadelphia High School advanced placement students in AAIMS subject areas display their award certificates shortly after the group collectively received $7,100 for passing AP exams.

Explained by the numbers – AAIMS
Arkadelphia High School is one of 39 schools in Arkansas which was selected to participate in the Arkansas Advanced Initiative for Math and Science. The AAIMS program provides teacher training and student and teacher incentives for succeeding in advanced placement (AP) courses. The central focus of the program is to increase the number of students enrolling in, and earning college credit through, the more challenging AP classes. Since the AAIMS program is designed to assist the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Initiative (STEM), the AP classes included in AAIMS are only Math, Science and English.

When the number of passing scores on Math, Science and English AP assessments is multiplied by the average cost per college class in Arkansas, the total represents the amount that AAIMS students state-wide offset college expenses in the 2011-12 school year. By earning these college credits as high school students passing AP exams, they collectively saved $1,956,930 in tuition alone.

    $215 (average cost per college credit hour in Arkansas)
X    3 (hours per average class)
    $645 (tuition cost per class)
X    3,034 (AAIMS-supported passing AP scores)

Using the same figures for calculating college tuition, AHS students offset college tuition expenses by $45,795. Fifty-two AHS students earned 71 passing scores on AP assessments in Math, Science and English during the 2011-12 school year. Not only will these students enter college with credit hours already accumulating, but they will be better prepared for the academic challenges of higher education because of the increased rigor of the high school AP curriculum.

“This curriculum, paired with our intense training and open enrollment, has allowed our campus to really dig deep and prepare our graduates for the rigor of college and career,” AHS Principal David Maxwell said.
  $645 (tuition cost per class)
X    71 (passing AHS AP scores for 2011-12)

At September 19’s AAIMS award assembly held at AHS, $14,200 of cash incentives were distributed to students and teachers. For every passing score a student earns on a Math, Science or English AP exam, they receive $100. For every student that earns as passing score on an AP exam in Math, Science or English, the teacher of that class earns $100. And cash incentives are just the beginning. AAIMS provides extensive training for the AP /Pre-AP teachers during the summer as well as sessions throughout the school year. With the additional training, the teachers provide Saturday test prep sessions, after school tutoring, lead teacher to teacher teaming, and vertical team meetings for both middle school and high school campuses.

“This program has dramatically increased the number of students in my AP classes,” AHS AP Chemistry teacher Tanya Ruble said. “But more than that, it has provided me with training to ensure that I am able to help my students achieve success on the AP exams.”

$100 (cash incentive per passing score for student / teacher)
X  71 (passing scores)
   $7,100 to students / $7,100 to teachers

In 2010 and prior to their involvement in AAIMS, AHS produced 35 passing scores on AP assessments. In 2012, after AAIMS had been in place for two years, the number of passing scores on AP assessments at AHS increased 103 percent, from 35 to 71. This statistic demonstrates that AAIMS is effective in achieving its primary goal: Producing more passing scores on AP assessments in Math, Science and English and therefore better preparing high school graduates for further study in STEM subject areas.

“The results from the past two years show a rather dramatic increase in enrollment in these challenging AP courses,” AHS AAIMS coordinator Nancy Mortensen said.

Participation in the AP program at AHS has also seen a substantial increase. In 2010, 252 AP assessments were administered. In 2012, that number increased to 459. Some students even elect to take AP assessments in subjects that are not offered at AHS as a class, yet several still pass the AP test.

AHS ranked No. 4 in Arkansas in The Washington Post’s High School challenge index. The index score is the number of college-level tests given at a school in 2011 divided by the number of graduates that year.

The Washing Post ranking in Arkansas – top 20

Little Rock Central
Little Rock
Parkview Arts/Sci Magnet
Little Rock
KIPP Delta Collegiate
Helena-West Helena
LISA Academy
Little Rock
Wilbur D. Mills University Studies
Little Rock
Haas Hall Academy
Dumas (AP pass rate under 10%)
Rogers Heritage
Brinkley (AP pass rate under 10%)
Rogers High School
Fort Smith
Rivercrest (AP pass rate under 10%)

By Sean Ruggles, APSD Director of Communication

More about the local and national AIMS program:

The Walton Family Foundation and the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation are partners with Arkansas AIMS.  The University of Arkansas at Little Rock is the supporting partner, and Arkansas AIMS is housed at UALR.

About the National Math + Science AP Program and the Arkansas advanced Initiative for Math and Science:  The National Math + Science AP Program dramatically increases the performance of high school students in rigorous AP courses in math, science, and English. The comprehensive approach includes intensive teacher training, support from master teachers, more time on task for students in special study sessions, open enrollment, and incentives. Passing AP exam scores are almost universally accepted for course credit by the nation’s colleges and universities, which see success in AP courses as reliable indicators of students’ subject-area knowledge and capacity for college-level thinking.
About National Math + Science:  National Math + Science, a nonprofit organization, is an agent of change that was launched in 2007 by top leaders in business, education, and science to improve student achievement in math and science across the American public school system.  National Math + Science’s mission is to bring best practices to the education sector by replicating proven programs on a national scale:  the AP Program; Laying the Foundation, which provides training and resources for pre-AP and AP teachers; and UTeach, a program to recruit and prepare college students to become qualified math, science and computer science teachers.

National Math + Science has received major funding support for its ground-breaking national initiatives from Exxon Mobil Corporation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, with additional support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York and Lockheed Martin Corporation. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Data driven decisions - TLI and The Assessment Wall

Goza Middle School Principal Angela Garner explains the
arrangement of color coded cards on "The Wall" as they relate 
to student test scores during September's instructional 
leadership team meeting.

What happens after the test ends, the pencils are down and the students breathe a sigh of relief? For students in Arkadelphia Public Schools, the end of a TLI test marks the beginning of a comprehensive examination of every test question and every test answer.

Do you ever wonder where test result data goes after it is delivered to schools? How is that data used? Does it impact the way teachers teach and classrooms are operated? Or does it sit on a shelf or in a closet? In Arkadelphia Public Schools, that data becomes the driving force behind almost every instructional decision, guiding teachers to adjust their classrooms to fit the needs of every student.

Every year for The Learning Institute tests’, the district invests a lot of resources, the staff spends a lot of time organizing, and teachers spend a lot of time preparing the students, who spend a lot of time testing. This produces a lot of valuable information that teachers can use to determine what is working and what is not. TLI testing dates average twice a month from September to April, so a school with more than 450 students, such as Goza Middle School, is analyzing about 7,200 individual test results in a school year. How does a school manage so much information?

Enter “The Wall.”

“The Wall” is the instructional facilitator’s war room. This is where test data becomes a visual aid and the results are tracked test-to-test and year-to-year for every single student in both math and literacy. Trends in individual student, and overall school, performance are easily appreciated once the color coded cards, which show a combination of scores and demographic information, are arranged on white boards on the walls of the instructional facilitator’s room. TLI test are administered multiple times a month throughout the school year and the trends in progress can be seen just days after the test is given. A room is set aside on each campus in the district to house the assessment wall. Access to the room is restricted to faculty and staff since the information on display is confidential.

“The cards are placed to show the most current round of scores,” GMS’s instructional facilitator Joan Crowder said. “Every time the students test and the results come back, the cards are rearranged.”

The APSD September Instructional Leadership Team meeting was held on GMS’s campus and led by school Principal Angela Garner. School principals and instructional facilitators were joined by members of the administration at the meeting to share ideas about increasing student achievement and utilizing test data to provide unique student guidance. Garner and Crowder’s presentation explained the ways their TLI data becomes a critical role in GMS’s classrooms.

“This (the assessment wall) shows the facts, the numbers,” Garner said. “There’s not any getting around it. The teachers meet in here and look at where their students are and they are able to see the results for themselves. This allows us to translate test data into individual student success. We see where we might need to push a student harder or provide an intervention to get one on the right track. The teachers that buy-in see positive results.”

District-wide, TLI data keeps students, as well as faculty, on track to reach their greatest potential.

“The information we get from TLI interim assessments and the data walls being used on each campus allow our teachers and principals to make very specific, targeted instructional decisions based on the needs of individual students,” APSD Director of Curriculum and Instruction Jeanette Turner said.  “We strongly believe in the power of data-driven decision making.”

Because of the focus on student-specific results, school faculty can tell what kind of misconceptions a student may have based on the wrong answer choices they make on a TLI test.  For example, if a student adds “47 + 15” and incorrectly selects “52” as the  answer and that student is consistently making the same mistake, then it can be assumed the student understands the concept of addition, but he or she is forgetting to “carry” or regroup.  The teacher would then work with that student individually to correct that specific misconception instead of unnecessarily spending valuable class time re-teaching multi-digit addition to the entire class.

The end goal is student success. TLI tests and “The Wall” are another set of tools in the educator’s quiver.

“With these tests, practice is harder than the game,” Garner said. “Often students will take the state (Benchmark) test, after testing with TLI throughout the year, and say that the state test was easy.”

By Sean Ruggles, APSD Director of Communications