Student confidence up, discipline referrals down in Ohio school

On the way home from a recent conference, Donna Ginn and a colleague from Batavia Middle School, Batavia, Ohio, were commenting that they hadn’t seen as many of the familiar faces in the office lately for discipline referrals. She made a note to run the specific numbers at year-end, but she knows referrals are down from this time last year—and attendance is already up 2 percent.

“We’re sure there’s a direct correlation between these improvements and what we’re doing with Star data this year,” said Ginn, a 17-year veteran at Batavia but new in her role as Title I Teacher and RTI Coordinator. “Since implementing Renaissance Star Reading® and Renaissance Star Math® this fall as screening tools for RTI, we're better able to target and work with kids on their levels, and this is increasing their confidence and desire to be here."

Batavia students are making very promising headway, ranging from six months to over two years of growth from late September Star testing to the mid-January test. Ginn says this progress stems from Batavia’s use of Star data to identify which students are struggling, then grouping them for targeted instruction on the problem material to help them master skills.

Since implementing Star Reading and Star Math this fall as screening tools for RTI, we’re better able to target and work with kids on their levels, and this is increasing their confidence and desire to be here.

Donna Ginn | Title I Teacher and RTI Coordinator | Batavia Middle School

“With Star, we’re now able to take our data to a new level and start interventions much earlier in the year,” Ginn said. “It’s been valuable to print out screening reports for each teacher that immediately identify who’s on track for passing the Ohio Achievement Assessments (OAA) and who is not. Our teachers are implementing tutoring, small groups, etc. based on that data.”

Ginn uses Star Reading and Star Math to screen Batavia’s approximately 700 students in grades 5-9. Following the color coding system of the Instructional Planning report and Screening report, she color codes the latest Star test and state test scores to group students into Tier 2 and Tier 3 interventions.

“If I have students coming up on Intervention or Urgent Intervention on both assessments, I know we have to help that student,” Ginn said.

Ginn takes the information to the staff to help guide necessary interventions and pullout groups. She also provides State Standards reports that point to the specific state indicators requiring extra work. Batavia has been able to identify so many needs in reading and math that paraprofessionals are helping teach small groups alongside other teacher-led reading classes. Small groups are also trumping some science and social studies time, with the understanding that reading improvement will have a positive effect on these subjects, too.

Following group work, students re-test with Star and those demonstrating an increase in skill mastery move on. Those who do not show they’re on track to mastery are re-taught and re-tested. This targeted, small-group approach is working for Batavia.

“Kids who used to blow off studying started realizing that they had to show mastery to move on, so they started studying more and making gains,” Ginn said. “At the same time, it’s also helping kids who legitimately need the time and extra help to master skills. We have high hopes about our OAA test in May.”

Star data is especially proving to be a “dream” for Batavia’s special education teachers, who find the Instructional Planning Report indispensable for writing Individualized Education Programs (IEPs). The report shows each student’s projected growth, pinpointing core curriculum standards not yet mastered. Teachers can easily create three to five individualized goals and project realistic percentages in those goals, all based on current mastery levels.

“It’s taking the legwork and guesswork out of what each student needs because everything is right there in one report,” Ginn said. “Professional development was valuable in showing staff the reports available and how they worked, as well as other resources. Plus, the live chat is excellent.”

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