“We teach the standards,” Ward said. “Our state standards have to be the core of our instruction, and then we’re holding students accountable to master the content.”
Noe said each lesson consists of a pre-test, work stations, direct instruction, post-test, remediation if necessary, and then a performance assessment, which must be completed before the student can move on.
The performance assessment allows teachers to gauge if a student is truly ready to move on to the next topic, by making the student explain and apply the newly learned skill, not just answer multiple choice questions.
On a daily basis, Noe explained, students go to three stations during the 95-minute pilot class period.
Because students are broken up into so many groups of differing learning levels, she said teachers rely on the help of teachers’ assistants and parent volunteers.
“The teachers are always the ultimate ones who are assessing and making sure the child knows, understands, and can apply (the skill),” Noe said. “It’s a beautiful thing for me to walk down there and see that many parent volunteers in there helping these kids at the
level they need, and getting them the resources they need so that they can move on, so they don’t have to sit idle and wait for the teacher.”
After getting the word out about the new program and that volunteers were needed, she said there was overwhelming support from parents — so much so that some volunteers had to be turned away.
Noe — who has children taking the pilot classes — said she can see the difference the new style of teaching is making at home.
When she asks her children what they did in school that day, she said she no longer gets the standard answer of “nothing.”
“(The other) night we were having dinner and my kids brought it up ... (my son said) I took my topic four test today,” Noe said. “He’s bringing it up, telling me ‘this is what I mastered’ and ‘this is what I’m going to do next.’ It’s neat to see them going after their own learning.”
She said the program is also making a difference in student discipline at her school.
“I’ve had zero discipline issues down there (in the pilot classrooms),” Noe said. “Because the kids are engaged, none of them are horsing around. They’re on task, doing things with math, and they’re having math conversations, which is exciting.”
Keeping parents involved at home is another important key to the program, she said.