QTL News & Stories
Data-Driven Decisions Pay Off for Bedfor Schools
Teachers' enthusiasm and focus lead to a notable increase in student engagement - and a significant rise in test scores.
Watch a video about QTL at Bedford County's Thaxton Elementary.
BEDFORD COUNTY, VA - Two formerly struggling elementary schools have taken similar paths to newfound success. Having fallen short of AYP goals, principals at Bedford County, Virginia's Thaxton Elementary and Montvale Elementary recognized the need for a different approach. They knew teachers would have to be part of the process, and they would have to find out where current classroom strategies fell short.
Fresh from summer sessions of Foundations in Quality Teaching and Learning, teachers began the 2008 - 2009 school year by taking an in-depth look at specific student skills and needs. With the help of Quality Teaching and Learning (QTL) instructors, teachers looked at the available data to determine exactly where students were missing specific skills to increase performance.
By the end of the school year, both schools made AYP and are looking to make even greater gains this year. But it wasn't just the principals' commitments that led to these student success stories. QTL instructors who worked with these partner schools noted that teachers frequently stayed after school to work together in study groups or find new ways to differentiate instruction.
At Montvale Elementary, teachers began by examining vocabulary skills, and looking at benchmark data to determine target areas and working on those areas during the year. At each grade level, teachers kept a notebook of student data to track those who needed to master specific skills in order to perform grade level tasks. The students who had not mastered specific skills received remediation, and those who had mastered skills received enrichment.
The focus was on improving reading and literacy skills at Thaxton Elementary. In an interview with Principal Judy Reynolds, she said the difference was obvious in the students when teachers began implementing the classroom strategies used in the QTL summer sessions.
"I think they were really engaged," said Reynolds, "...we made the rooms more child-centered, using document cameras, other technology and techniques."
Teachers we talked with after the training said QTL instruction empowered them to be part of the process.
"QTL was very professional and they gave me lots of strategies that I could use in the classroom," said 3rd Grade Teacher Barbara Potts. The students responded well to everything, and it gave me … many more tools to use when I'm teaching."
"I actually enjoyed teaching so much more this year... like when you first started teaching," added 4th Grade Teacher April Stephenson.
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