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Somerville Public Schools: Assess, Analyze, Achieve

Timothy Purnell
New Jersey
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Program: Assess, Analyze, Achieve

Somerville Public Schools identified a disconnect between student progress and the evaluation of instructional strategies. The district’s No Child Left Behind waiver indicated 67 percent of ELA subgroups did not meet performance goals while state test data revealed ELA proficiency rates for third grade were 49 percent and 47 percent for fourth grade.

The district dedicated to improve student achievement by analyzing data, providing targeted instruction, and developing continuous job-embedded professional development opportunities. The Assess – Analyze – Achieve program was created in the 2012-13 school year to inform and support teachers in providing individualized instruction.

To provide more detailed information on student needs and to monitor progress, the district embraced new sources of data collection, including Dibels, Reading On-Demands, Writing On-Demands, Mathematics On-Demands, and ELA/Mathematics Questions of the Day.

Teachers, parents and students have access to a resource library that gives student more opportunities to continue learning at home. Parents can also attend student achievement and data workshop sessions held in English and Spanish.

A morning and summer reading program was launched for struggling readers in K8, along with bilingual learning sessions for families wanting to help students read at home. The elementary school is also implementing a daily Response through Intervention (RtI) block.

On the state test, students moving from third to fourth grade gained 6 percent proficiency in ELA and 8 percent in mathematics while fourth-to-fifth-grade students gained 6 and 12 percent, respectively. In the elementary and middle schools, the number of students reading below grade level decreased from 557 to 200.

“The Assess-Analyze-Achieve program has enhanced each teacher's ability to differentiate instruction to better meet the needs of every child and has promoted community involvement through a renewed focus on student achievement,” says Superintendent Timothy Purnell.

In recognition of the innovation and success of this initiative, Somerville Public Schools has been named a District of Distinction by District Administration. The district was among 49 districts that were honored in the inaugural round of Districts of Distinction, the magazine’s new national recognition program.

“We are pleased to honor Somerville Public Schools as a District of Distinction,” says JD Solomon, editorial director at District Administration magazine. “Like all our honorees, the district serves as a model for school leaders across the country.”

For more information about Districts of Distinction, including how to apply and a list of all current honorees, visit