Articles from "Food for Thought":
Hints about Assessing Student Progress in the Stevenson Program
If you Google the phrase “reading assessment,” you receive more than 43 million results. “Reading Test” produces about 105 million. (In contrast, “math assessment” yields about 12 million.) Unless you have been teaching in the jungles of New Guinea for the last five years, you know that assessing reading ability is almost an obsession among educational policy-makers today. Therefore, teachers are now asked to perform reading assessments almost continuously.
We recently visited an excellent special education teacher we know in a Las Vegas elementary school, and heard a wonderful story. This teacher is experienced with the Stevenson Program, and unusually skilled at working with students who have serious learning issues. She told us about one of the students in her fourth/fifth grade class, whom we will call “Joey.” “Joey” came to her in fourth grade essentially unable to read. He is identified as being severely learning disabled, with significant language processing problems and other difficulties.
The sun isn't the only thing that shines in Pasco County. Bill Stevenson recently visited several schools in the county and met some excellent teachers and wonderful students. The county is making a serious commitment to using the Stevenson Program to help its struggling readers, and although the process is still in the early stages, it is clear that some teachers have made significant progress. Perhaps even more impressive, however, is the way in which certain key administrators have worked so hard to harmonize the implementation of Stevenson with other key elements of the curriculum. It will be fun to watch the process unfold.
When you are trying to evaluate students, numbers help. You need some objective ways to measure progress. You can’t run a class-room, a school or a school system on feelings and opinions. But numbers can also be misleading. Here are a couple of examples:
If you go to Intervention Central and type a passage into the CBM Reading Fluency Passage Generator, it will give you several different readability measurements for the same passage.
Believe it or not, the stimulus money is real. The first round of funding last spring took longer to distribute than the Federal Government had hoped (surprise!), and few teachers and administrators saw any obvious benefit from it. Some schools systems were in such bad financial shape that they used the funds to cover operational deficits.
You are starting a new school year, and many of you will be starting new students in the Stevenson Program. Some of you will be using the program for the first time. Do not forget to make use of the free animated online student activity on our web site. It is called “The oa Friends in Action,” and you can access it from the bottom center of the home page at www.StevensonLearning.com. Students in the Beginning Green Level can use Section 1 of the online activity after completing Lesson One.
We have started to revise the third level of the Stevenson Language Skills Program, a process that will take several years. In the meantime, we are posting some of the new ideas and materials on our web site for free. The third level includes both the Intermediate Part One Teacher’s Manual, Student Book and Workbook as well as Frostings Doilies and More Teacher’s Manual and Student Book. The information on the web site includes suggestions for using the books now in print along with some new lesson directives and new practice reading.
During this past summer we began distributing a new workbook full of activities to reinforce our special mnemonic letter clues. The connection between letter sounds and letter symbols is the foundation of phonics and decoding. Stevenson’s Letter Clue Workbook will help you solidify this foundation.
This is the last issue of Food For Thought that is going to be sent bulk mail to many thousands of people. In the future we are sending the vast majority of the copies by e-mail. This method will not only speed things up, it will save paper and reduce waste.
In 1983 the National Commission on Excellence in Education declared America a “Nation At Risk.” We still are. The country has had almost a decade of “No Child Left Behind”, but a large segment of our school population is still being left behind. Now we have the “Race to the Top,” but too many kids at the bottom have not left the starting line.