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A Diverse Missouri District Boosts Achievement With Assessments

CTB/McGraw-Hill’s Acuity helps Bayless School District improve instruction and student performance

Walk the hallways in any of the four schools in the Bayless School District in South St. Louis County and you will likely hear an amazingly diverse patter of varied languages. Within the district, there are more than 25 languages spoken. Approximately 40 percent of the 1,725 students are English language learners, making Bayless the most culturally diverse district in Missouri.

“It was a challenge trying to meet No Child Left Behind mandates for our students,” says Stephanie True, literacy coordinator for Bayless School District. “We knew many districts were using online assessments and we were a little behind the times. We began looking for an affordable, online solution that would help us predict how students would perform on our state assessment. When we saw CTB’s Acuity? online assessment system, it met our needs perfectly. The price was right and it did exactly what we wanted it to do.”

Faced with the dual challenge of an extremely diverse community and a need for predictive assessment data, Bayless School District implemented the CTB/McGraw-Hill Acuity InFormative Assessment? solution in 2006. Created in collaboration with educators nationwide, Acuity helps classroom teachers diagnose students’ strengths and instructional needs while predicting student success on state assessments. This comprehensive solution integrates predictive and diagnostic assessments, reports, instructional resources, item banks, and item authoring—all aligned to state standards and designed to improve student achievement.

"We were thrilled to see both language arts and math improving."

“Acuity aligned with Missouri’s grade level expectations, making this assessment solution even more beneficial to our teachers and students,” says True. Administrators use the Acuity data to predict student performance on the Missouri Assessment Program (MAP), which has four achievement levels: Below Basic, Basic, Proficient, and Advanced. “Using the performance tier data in Acuity, we can look at those students predicted to score at the Basic level on the MAP to create a group for focused instruction,” says True. “If we can give those kids a nudge, they’ll move out of Basic and into Proficient— and that’s exactly what we need to do under NCLB.”

With dozens of reports at the student, class, school, and district levels, Acuity allows educators to easily measure student progress and growth. “The Acuity features that are particularly important to the Bayless School District are the valuable reports and the speed in which that data is received,” says True. “Acuity

empowers our teachers and principals to make decisions that improve student learning.”

The results have been fast, and they have been impressive. “We created graphs to compare each grade level, using the Acuity Predictive Assessments performance tier data from 2007-2008 and 2008-2009,” says True. “We were thrilled to see both language arts and math improving. Almost across the board, in Grades 3?8, we had fewer kids in Tiers 1 and 2, and more kids in Tiers 3 and 4, which is what we want to see.” The results have empowered both teachers and students alike. “Kim Stallons, the principal of Bayless Intermediate, had these graphs enlarged, laminated, and hung in the hallways so students could see their progress at each grade level,” says True.

As for the district’s ELL population, significant progress has been made, and it’s cause for celebration. “We tracked our ELL subgroup from 2007-2008 to 2008-2009 and saw growth, which shows students are improving as they progress from one grade level to the next,” says True. The Acuity data also show that each grade level is improving. “When we put the bar graphs up showing students’ growth, we had a big celebration with sparkling cider and cookies.”

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