Our campus was invited to participate in a state funded grant this year called "Texas School Ready." 17 of our classrooms (but you know me...all of our staff has participated in the amazing professional development opportunities that come with this grant!) are structured within the grant, and we hope to become a Texas School Ready school at the end of this school year (for information about this grant, click here: http://www.childrenslearninginstitute.org/our-programs/program-overview/tx-school-ready/).
To boil it down, this program will measure how much our students learn (through developmentally appropriate and research based instruction and assessment practices for preschool aged students) during their time in Pre-K, and then follow them into Kindergarten to continue to track their learning throughout that school year as well. In Kinder, their typical state assessed data will be tagged as part of the grant, and we will be able to measure our effectiveness with our students as a whole. In addition, we will be able to meet individual students right where they are - and they are all over the place in these formative years! We will measure what they know, determine what they need to learn and then implement strategies to engage students in effective learning.
This is HUGE for us at the preschool level! In so many places (our place included), student success is measured by compliance and happiness, rather than on progress toward school readiness. Our friends at the K-12 level all over the country have a variety of both effective and worthless (in my humble opinion) research proven best practices for instruction and assessment, but Pre-K research has lagged behind. In addition, our staff has attended training and professional development opportunities for elementary teachers, and then tried to "modify" what they heard for our kids. NO MORE! Now, it's all about the students they teach and the best ways to do that. HOORAY!
But, this is going to kick them in the rear! We thought we worked hard, then we opened Lawson. We thought we worked hard in our first year last year, then we were accepted into this grant. I have already had a bit of resistance (a quote...."You're killing me with these free choice centers, Paige!") and some denial noted, but I know the drama is yet to come as they actually measure student learning - a huge look in a very clear mirror will show the cobwebs in the corners of our instruction in a big way!
But as I have said a thousand times, the needs of the students come before the comfort of the adults. It is time to move away from an adult centered environment - that is not working to close the achievement gap for our students! Our child centered and engaging learning opportunities will push our kids to be their own learning advocates, measuring themselves against the learning standards. Revolutionary in Pre-K for sure!
Stay tuned for the drama as it unfolds - and for stories of great success in the lives of our most needy MISD students!