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Consultant Helps Lubbock Schools Prepare for Standardized Testing
Lubbock, TX, Avalanche-Journal ^ | 08-20-04 | Glass, Ray

Posted on 08/20/2004 6:06:02 AM PDT by Theodore R.

Consultant helps LISD prepare for TAKS testing By RAY GLASS AVALANCHE-JOURNAL

Rhonda Tue emerged from a three-hour workshop on state-mandated curriculum, student expectations and assessment tests earlier this month as excited as a youngster on the first day of school.

"I was blown away," said Tue, who teaches fifth- and sixth-grade reading at Guadalupe Elementary School.

Tue was among about 700 Lubbock Independent School District teachers and administrators who, with consultant Margaret Kilgo, explored strategies to raise student scores on the annual Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills test. Tue expects to see improvement after bench-mark testing in December.

"I'm not kidding. I'm that motivated," she said. "I think just by looking at all these teachers and hearing them talk, I think they all feel the same way."

Linda Wickersham, chairwoman of the Lubbock High English department, is also among the motivated teachers.

"I think that most of us are most excited about getting some specific information that can help us," the 17-year educator said.

"I think this time last year we didn't know as much about the test, and we didn't feel as educated ourselves about what our students were going to be tested on. Now we feel like we have gotten information from Margaret that is going to help us help our students."

Kilgo, founder and president of Austin-based Kilgo Consulting Inc., presented an approach to improving test scores based on analyzing data including test scores, aligning resources such as textbooks with curriculum, uncovering gaps in teaching and focusing efforts in those areas.

Test scores of less than 70 percent indicate instructional gaps, she said.

"You're operating under the premise if you teach the students the content knowledge, steps and skills they're tested on, they'll do a lot better on the test," she said. "Your data tells you where your resources may not be aligned. Once you see where your lower scores are, you can go out and look for more resources to fill those gaps and bring up the scores."

Based on preliminary TAKS scores from last school year, the LISD will place emphasis on mathematics during 2004-05, said Ann Graves, deputy superintendent of elementary education for the district. Science and social studies will also receive more attention, she said.

Eighty-nine percent of LISD third-graders passed the reading test last school year. The district has not released other TAKS scores. Graves said official scores will be available in September.

Among LISD third-graders in 2003, 90 percent passed reading and 92 percent passed math. Among district 11th-graders that year, 58 percent passed English, 61 percent passed math, 61 percent passed science and 89 percent passed social studies.

The LISD had been on a waiting list since May 2003 to have a workshop by Kilgo, an educator for 38 years. She has worked with districts across the state, including the Dallas Independent School District, and conducts annual workshops in Austin about the relationship between TAKS and the state curriculum, the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills and Student Expectations.

"We know we need to do some improvement and revamping, and she happened to be on the docket for this year," Graves said. "It was perfect timing."

Kilgo was paid $6,000 plus expenses by the LISD, Graves said.

More than once during six workshop sessions covering 17 hours, the consultant said "data is the key" and urged attendees to make "data-driven decisions." Kilgo offered results of her research (some 20,000 hours) into state-mandated tests in Texas and their relationship with the state curriculum.

She provided educators with data on how specific TEKS and Student Expectations were tested on previous assessment tests, and an item analysis of statewide results by subject, grade and individual question.

The detail of the data impressed longtime Lubbock educators and administrators.

"This is going to help the teachers so much," said Dianne Moseley, an instructional specialist at Parsons Elementary and 35-year educator. "Every year we analyze data. But Margaret has already done so much for us. All we have to do is look at our item analysis, look at that (specific test) question and student expectation to see what we need to work on. Before we have had to do all of this. Margaret has done it for us."

Kilgo's data-driven approach to improving TAKS scores can help school districts unravel nagging questions, Graves said.

"She understands there is a difference between the text of a book and the text of a standardized test," Graves said of the consultant. "We may think we understand what the text says, but then we say, 'Wait a minute. We understand what this book says, but why are our children not doing as well as they should on that assessment?'

"She's able, through her research, to bring in the pieces that help us understand why."

Kilgo told the educators the answer often is seemingly simple: Students are not taught the state-mandated curriculum, which is what they're tested on; or resources such as state-mandated textbooks do not contain information the students are tested on.

"If you don't really understand the relationship between the state curriculum and the state assessment and much of your textbook is not aligned that way, then you're going home at night trying to create lessons, working until midnight trying to figure this out," Kilgo said of individual teachers.

"Sometimes we're reinventing the wheel from classroom to classroom to classroom. Once someone shows you this research — this is what is tested, this is how it's tested, this is what the students have to know deeply — a lot of people get joyful. Then they're starting to figure out ways to collaborate with each other and help each other more. It's fun. It could be a lot of fun."

She urged teachers to understand their crucial role in each student's success.

"We have high-stakes testing for the 11th-graders, and this doesn't start in the 11th grade," she said. "It starts way before the 11th grade. If a child doesn't learn the key concepts in math in the sixth grade, when is that child going to learn those concepts?"

Kilgo emphasized the roles of creative reading and text-dependent reading in improving TAKS scores. Creative reading for enjoyment can be a handicap when trying to answer a test question based on specific text.

"If you think of everything you know on the subject, and you're not basing your answers on the text, you're going to get the wrong answer," she said. "The conclusions have to be drawn on the information that's provided.

"Basically, what you essentially have in America is our academia embraces more the creative reading and our assessment gurus that write the tests embrace text-dependent reading. Why not teach kids both? Teach them the difference between C and T. When you read for pleasure, enjoyment and life lessons, you're doing C. When you're filling out your IRS tax form, you're doing T."

Moseley intends to turn Kilgo's ideas into action with the teachers at Parsons Elementary.

"We're going to find out where we've got some gaps," she said. "Then we're going to work on our curricula to see how we can fill those gaps. What have we been doing wrong? Whatever we've done in the past, if we've got that gap, we need to fill it. We need to start thinking in a new direction."

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Government
KEYWORDS: consultant; education; lubbock; standardizedtests; taks; tx
The hiring of consultants by public schools is now a big business in the USA. And people wonder why schools cost so much.
1 posted on 08/20/2004 6:06:03 AM PDT by Theodore R.
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To: Theodore R.

The only thing they don't recognize, is the obvious. The way to raise scores, is to teach the subjects, so that students learn!

2 posted on 08/20/2004 6:08:55 AM PDT by pageonetoo ( Rights, what rights? This is Amerika!)
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To: Theodore R.

They changed the name from TASK to TAKS ??? or did I always have it backwards?

I would have sworn that it began its miserable life as the Texas Assessment of Skills and Knowledge ?? Maybe the word "TASK" - meaning WORK - was too "prejudicial" ??

3 posted on 08/20/2004 6:17:29 AM PDT by steplock
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