Magazine article Techniques

Clicking Your Way to Student Success!

Magazine article Techniques

Clicking Your Way to Student Success!

Article excerpt

From manual arts to vocational education to career and technical education (CTE), our field has been in a constant state of change and evolution. In a recent effort to increase academic and occupational achievement and success for all CTE students through targeted improvement plans, the state of Pennsylvania implemented a support system called the "Pennsylvania Technical Assistance Program (TAP)." This article discusses the journey taken by the School District of Philadelphia and focuses on one tool they used to increase their students' engagement in learning technical skills and ultimately meeting the goal of the TAP program.

The TAP Program in Philadelphia

In 2009, three CTE schools in the School District of Philadelphia (the largest urban school district in the state) were selected to participate in the TAP program. Throughout the school year, instructors took full advantage of the mentoring and professional-development opportunities offered through the TAP program. The professional development helps instructors better prepare to explore methods to incorporate multiple points of measurement into their instructional strategies. Changes in instructional delivery provided immediate benefits to the teachers, leaving them with a desire to seek out additional ways to incorporate strategic measurement points while simultaneously motivating and engaging students.

Over the next two years, five more CTE schools were added. All CTE schools within the district are now taking full advantage of the benefits offered through TAP.

One goal of the TAP program is to provide professional development focused on engaging technical teachers in using data-driven instructional improvement to ultimately increase a student's technical competence. The TAP program encourages the use of various tools like pre- and post-assessments and study guides offered through the National Occupational Competency Testing Institute (NOCTI). Results derived from the pre-test, the study guide questions and the post-test provide teachers with information to be used for the development of data-driven instructional improvement plans.

Each school within the School District of Philadelphia participating in the TAP program has created a plan to delve deeper into the school's technical assessment data acquired from the NOCTI assessments, as well as create plans for improved student achievement and technical competence. Capitalizing on technical assistance visits from a team of experienced CTE colleagues and also using the 10 Key Practices from the High Schools That Work (HSTW) model, each school is learning to reflect on specific ways to improve student performance and achievement. For the CTE assessments, NOCTI assessment data were used as one indicator of success. To get the most out of the data, administrators and teachers were focused on finding methods to better engage their students.

During the 2010 Integrated Learning Conference, one of the largest conferences in Pennsylvania, teachers from a number of high schools within the School District of Philadelphia participated in a session focused on a classroom response system (CRS). Upon returning to the classroom, teachers from one of those schools began to explore ways a CRS could be incorporated to enhance the student's learning experience. One teacher decided to use the CRS to prepare students for their end-of-program assessments (NOCTI is the mandated end-of-program assessment in Pennsylvania). A collaborative team of administrators and teachers reviewed the data from the spring 2011 testing season, and the team realized significantly improved results. The improvements were attributed to both the implementation of the TAP program, as well as the usage of the CRS to boost student engagement. The TAP program offered teachers a methodological approach, and the CRS provided the teacher with immediate feedback that allowed for modification of instruction to meet individual student needs. …

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