Academic journal article High School Journal

When Remedial Means What It Says: How Teachers Use Data to Reform Instructional Interventions

Academic journal article High School Journal

When Remedial Means What It Says: How Teachers Use Data to Reform Instructional Interventions

Article excerpt

As technology becomes increasingly integrated into K-12 education, the use of data is growing in volume and complexity, resulting in a paradox of information overload for educators. While administrators and teachers have access to more data than ever before, they are only just beginning to understand the impact of data on program improvement. In a case study of one high-performing California high school, teacher leaders analyzed multiple sources of data related to the school's program placement practices, specifically those related to a reading intervention program. Results indicate that low performing students can benefit from specific instruction tailored to their needs in courses that are not classified as "college preparatory." This study poses implications for administrators and instructional leaders who use data to inform their placement practices, ability grouping, and instructional interventions.

Access and Public Schools

Jeannie Oakes' (1985) influential work on tracking targeted the problems minority students face in accessing educational opportunities. Specifically, Oakes found disproportionate representation of Latino and African American students in low track courses across the country, courses that provide less challenging curricula. Over the course of the 1990s, Oakes followed the progress of detracking reform in which schools attempted to close the achievement gap for minority students. However, reform moves slowly, and Oakes also found that tracking persists in many schools under the guise of the current term, ability grouping (Oakes, & Wells, 1998; Oakes, Wells, & Makeba Datnow, 1997), defined as the grouping of students according to such performance indicators as standardized test scores and grades.

While most high schools continue to offer different ability grouping tracks (Hallinan, 2004), California's school accreditation agency, the Western Association for Schools and Colleges (WASC) has placed pressure on schools to provide increased access to the most rigorous curricula. In fact, WASC's objectives for students include: "access to the school's entire program and assistance with a personal learning plan to prepare them for the pursuit of their academic, personal and school-to-career goals" (WASC, 2007). Heretofore, schools followed the federal government's guidelines for course placement according to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which "prohibits discrimination in assigning students to schools, classes or courses of study." However, districts comply with this federal law by holding students to placement criteria for courses, often resulting in de facto tracks for students according to test scores, grades, and other placement measures. While students must be "given the opportunity to move from one ability group to another, or in and out of assigned tracks according to their progress" (Title VI, Civil Rights Act of 1964), sequential curricula in most courses make it difficult for students to do so (Trefla, 1999).

While research suggests that tracking is widespread in secondary science and math courses (National Institute on Student Achievement, Curriculum, and Assessment, 1999), research on secondary reading and language arts tracks is limited to reading development at earlier grades. The question emerges then as to how educators can assist high school students who are not reading at grade level and require intervention that may remove them from a college preparatory English course. Current trends in educational research strongly advance the idea that all students should be given the opportunity to take advantage of rigorous curricula that supports workforce and college-readiness (Achieve, Inc., 2008). California school districts have interpreted rigor as college preparatory coursework and have expanded course offerings that prepare students to enter a four-year university upon graduation without necessarily providing interventions for those who cannot meet college preparatory course expectations. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.