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ETS Pulliam’s Focus on Standards? Helps Meet Goals in English and Math

California district taps teacher-leaders to spearhead program implementation


Snowline Joint Unified School District

The instructional program for the Snowline Joint Unifi ed School District, located in the eastern high desert area of San Bernardino County (CA), has always been the foundational focus for the district. The sprawling district encompasses over 200 square miles and serves a population of approximately 8,000 students. There are four elementary schools, two middle schools, one K-8 school of choice, one comprehensive high school, one continuation high school, an independent study K-12 school, and a 6-12 alternative school.

Snowline educators were
looking for a process that
would bring all of the
pieces of instructional
improvement together. The
district chose the FOS?
system as a model for
sustained improvement in
student learning.

Although Academic Performance Index (API) scores were “acceptable,” Snowline educators were looking for a process that would bring all of the pieces of instructional improvement together. During the 2002-03 school year, principals and district administration were introduced to ETS Pulliam’s Focus on Standards? (FOS) as a model for sustained improvement in student learning.

Focus on Standards?

FOS? is built on five research-based, essential components for instructional improvement. It integrates a data system, Instructional Data Management System (IDMS), with a process that enables teachers to work collaboratively to build standards-based instruction and assessment. Snowline administrators experience and support FOS? on a daily basis—in particular the recognition of the importance of data-driven instruction and the understanding that the answers to perplexing problems about student learning are most often found within the teacher group. As a result, the Snowline team felt that FOS? was a perfect tool for district-wide implementation.

Snowline began its journey by investing in IDMS and, in the spring of 2003, hired an ETS Pulliam facilitator to oversee the FOS? implementation process. They decided to focus on math and English in grades K-10. During May and June, teacher groups met almost daily by subject/grade level to develop pacing plans and to build some common agreements about their work together during the year. Some assessments were completed during the spring and by September, 2003, pacing plans were completed, assessment and Structured Teacher Planning Time (STPT) dates were established for the year, and IDMS trainings had been scheduled.

Anticipating implementation difficulties, ETS Pulliam created FOS? Coach positions for each site. These teacher leaders are paid a stipend from categorical money and are in charge of implementing FOS?. Their responsibilities include IDMS site training, pacing chart revision and monitoring, teacher support for standards-based instruction (including unwrapping standards), assessment development, and facilitation for Structured Teacher Planning Time. These coaches have proved to be an integral part of the FOS? process.

Evolving strategies

Snowline completed the 2003-04 year having accomplished its goal of running full FOS? cycles in all English and math classes in grades K-10. There were also signifi cant changes implemented in the 2004-05 school year, based on what teachers learned.

This year, Snowline’s focus is on “digging deeper” in Essential Standards, STPT, and Interventions and Assessments. Staff is breaking down Essential Standards to component skills and looking carefully at the different “bloom” levels to ensure that they are teaching and questioning at the higher cognitive levels. ETS Pulliam’s item bank ensures that the quality of test items is as high as it should be. Snowline is also filming STPT sessions for FOS? Coach review and analysis.

To set up an appointment, visit us online at: programimprovement.html or call 1-866-ETSLEARN (1-866-387-5327).