Data shows gains in reading skills

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  • The data @ncpublicschools received this month will help it establish a baseline to measure progress in implementing the state’s reading science law. #nced

  • “We still have a long way to go, but the results we’re seeing over the past year are clearly pointing in the right direction,” @CTuittNCDPI said of the data released earlier this month. #nced

The Ministry of Public Instruction received evaluation data this month that will help it establish a baseline for measuring effective literacy teaching as part of the implementation of the Education Act. the science of reading the state. Data shows that young learners in North Carolina significantly increased their foundational literacy skills between the start and end of the last school year.

According to a DPI statement citing data from the 2021-22 school year, K-2 students across the state showed favorable gains in five foundational skills – phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary , fluency and comprehension – compared to the national sample.

About a month ago, DPI began receiving data from Amplify, owner of the mCLASS assessment that is administered to elementary school students across the state at least three times a year (early, middle, and late school year). year). mCLASS is also administered to 1.6 million other children in approximately 35 states.

DPI’s release, released on Thursday, does not include raw data, but Amplify has confirmed the accuracy of the first sheet figures released.

The release also says third-graders showed gains, but it only provides percentages for K-2. DPI leaders said it was an intentional move to avoid confusion when end-of-year three test results are released next week. These can look very different because, while assessment data measures progress in acquiring literacy skills, EOG tests attempt to measure actual reading skills.

“We still have a long way to go, but the results we are seeing over the past year are clearly going in the right direction,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt said in the statement.

The data is good, but we can’t overstate it

North Carolina students in kindergarten, first and second grade each began last year to achieve lower assessment benchmarks than the national sample. North Carolina’s kindergarten and first-graders finished the year with better results than the national sample, and second-graders achieved the same results.

While the significant gains and gap closed by North Carolina students on the national sample is encouraging, said DPI Office of Early Learning Director Amy Rhyne, further study is needed to understand what exactly is happening.

The gains came after the state enacted the Excellent Public Schools Act, which requires early-grade literacy education to align with the science of reading – but Rhyne warned against too much reading in the calendar.

“We look at this data and be careful not to say that it directly correlates to LETRS training,” she said.

The Reading Act of 2021 changes a lot around the state’s approach to teaching reading. However, you have probably most often heard of Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling (LETRS). DPI offers LETRS training to teachers across the state. LETRS covers some research and asks teachers to practice research-aligned teaching on a sample of students during training.

The state has divided the districts into three cohorts, with teachers in the first cohort starting the two-year training early last year and the third cohort starting now.

According to Truitt, who saw some of the early breakdown of the numbers, students taught by teachers who started LETRS training first outperformed students taught by teachers who are just starting training now.

What the mCLASS assessment measures

Although it is too early to establish causal links between law reading science and assessment results, the data provides a baseline for PGD to measure future student progress over time. that the law is implemented. And the assessments, which measure both progress and risk for things like dyslexia, show how well students are doing in the skills that lead to competence.

“It’s about reading to learn versus learning to read,” Rhyne said, noting that assessments show where children are learning to read while EOGs test whether they can read to learn.

According to Amplify spokesperson Kay Moffett, mCLASS assessments provide teachers with data they can use to target instruction based on the reading skills students have or need to learn more fully.

It measures things like fluency in letters and phonemes (the sound segments that make up a word), as well as proficiency in reading words and vocabulary. Here is an example of what is measured:

According to Kelley Bendheim, implementation coordinator of DPI’s Read to Achieve, assessments become more complex as a student progresses through the beginning of the year. Indeed, students’ fundamental skills should progress throughout the year.

How DPI will use the data

Rhyne said she does not expect to see a significant impact on reading skills from the science of reading law for at least two years, and that soon-to-be-released EOG scores will likely still reflect the challenges facing students and teachers have faced during the pandemic.

However, digging into the assessment data will help the state identify who needs help the most and where the positive outliers are so it can look for best practices to spread more widely, Rhyne said. .

Amplify provides DPI with data disaggregated by subgroups, by race as well as by LETRS cohort. DPI will use the breakdowns to ask questions like whether well-performing districts assess students more than three times a year. It will also explore the impact of assessment data on teaching and interventions.

The Office of Early Learning partners with the Office of Recovery and Acceleration of Learning to further analyze assessment data. The two are partnering on the project with the North Carolina Collaboratory, which has issued a request for proposals to find an outside research partner. The RFP indicates that work will begin in October.

Rupen Fofaria

Rupen Fofaria is the Equity and Learning Differences Reporter at EducationNC. It exists to shed light, including telling stories about under-reported issues.

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