Everest Value School ambitiously aims to be an innovator amongst educational institutions in delivering a demanding Common Core aligned education. This has been accomplished through a meticulous teacher development program, a rigorous curriculum, and investing in STEM materials and technology-rich classrooms. Everest seeks to create student opportunities on campus to apply their knowledge to “real life” positions in an expanding its student leadership system. Our purpose is to equip scholars with the necessary skills to triumph over all challenges presented in high school, college, and beyond.
Everest Value engages with researched based core curricular resources to ensure that the CCSS are being addressed at a level of rigor necessary for students to be successful on the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. It should be noted that the school views all curricular resources as “tools” to be used as needed. Under the guidance of mentors and with the help of supplemental sites, many of our teachers have developed much more creative and engaging lessons. The following are the base level curriculum used in all classrooms:
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ELA Curriculum: Journeys and Collections are the school’s ELA curriculums used to deliver a rigorous Common Core instructional design in the classroom. The program has a bevy of technology features aimed at giving students the tools needed to succeed in a digital age, while creating a college and career ready scholar. The unique close reading routine and workbooks builds better readers and also provide intervention for struggling students. The program has Common Core-based instruction ingrained into all lessons and units, digital learning tools and mobile apps, Scaffolding and differentiation to meet the needs of all students, access to ACT/SAT flashcards, a vocabulary tutor, PowerPoint lessons on Common Core objectives, modules to lead students through learning objectives.
Math Currciulum: Go Math provides students an engaging, rigorous, and interactive approach towards understanding Common Core math standards. The programs introduces real world applications to how math is used in society, and problems that display probable life situations where math can be applied. The program includes several technology resources that help scholars become college ready, career ready scholar, and computer literate. The interactive math trainer gives students plenty of opportunity to practice math in school and out of school. Worksheets are differentiated to meet the needs of all learners, and include special components on reading strategies, using graphic aids, tips for English Learners, challenge worksheets, and remedial worksheets.
Engage NY: Teachers have found great success using the resources and curriculum from Engage NY, as it has proved to be clear, explicit, and very rigorous work for the students to complete. The lesson guides and plethora of worksheets and assessments have made both math and ELA instruction easier for our less experienced teachers. Additionally, veteran teachers have found the materials to be difficult enough to challenge all learners. The curriculum is Common-Core aligned and easily accessible online.
Everest Value School teachers have access to the Houghton Mifflin’s platform of hybrid text and online curriculum: Go Math (K-8), Journeys (K-5), Collections (6-8). The school has added programs from Engaged New York and Lucy Calkin’s Readers and Writers Workshop to supplement their classroom’s Common Core instruction. Teachers rely on these programs as the core of their daily instruction and aggregate these assessments using their PowerSchool grade book to help calculate trimester grades. However, Everest teachers have been trained to go much deeper into their students’ performance data than this.
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During an August professional development series, every teacher at Everest used the CCSS to create a list of “learning targets” at their grade level. These were written in a language that can be shared with students and parents to encourage an added ownership of the process. Teachers maintain a Google Doc spreadsheet displaying a snapshot of the progress each individual in the class has made toward mastering these learning targets. This spreadsheet is then shared with the principal, interventionists, the afterschool tutoring system and the mentor teachers to ensure that all tutoring projects on campus are targeted. The principal and mentor teachers also discuss this data from a school-wide and subgroup perspective to initiate new intervention strategies.
Three times a year, the school takes the NWEA benchmark to capture norm referenced data which can compare their classes with students countrywide. This data is also used by the principal as part of a rubric to allocate teacher performance compensation.
Teachers use the data from the NWEA tests in math and reading to build on students’ strengths and target areas for student growth. The NWEA RIT score of each student provides teachers with specific information about what skills each student is proficient in and which skills need to be practiced. The NWEA Student Progress Reports and Learning Continuum tracks student foundational and background knowledge in relation to all CCCSS and provide data on actionable objectives to teach each student on their quest to meet their academic goals. Teachers use this information when grouping students, planning intervention, and setting individualized goals for students.
Everest Value School, understanding this emphasis in its charter, has built in a variety of tools for teachers to both deliver targeted instruction and gather and analyze data on student performance. Well beyond the classroom, in every corner and department on the campus, student performance data is being reviewed and minor course corrections are being made based on this analysis. Here are some of the primary avenues at Everest for this type of discussion.
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Internal Examinations: The Northwest Evaluation Assessment exam allows teachers to see the growth of all students comparative to national norms, and receive a percentile for each student’s progress relative to the thousands of students that are assessed by NWEA nationwide. In total, NWEA works with over 8,500 schools, school districts, and educational programs across the country. Teachers reflect upon the progress of each individual student, and in turn use this to inform how they deliver instruction and put students in the best possible situation to thrive. Furthermore, the NWEA allows access to a common core aligned skills navigator to pinpoint the areas in which all students need review, reinforcement, and introductions to new Common Core standards. This allows our instructors to teach to the student, not teach to the test.
Data Analysis: After periodic benchmark assessments, Everest Value teachers reflect and redirect the focus of their year-long learning goals to best meet the needs of their students. Everest uses both the NWEA (Northwest Evaluation Association) and SBAC (Smarter Balanced) Interim Assessments for reflection purposes. Everest maintains confidence in all assessments we have chosen to use, but sees great value in utilizing more than one measure to guarantee validity in data.
Interim Assessments: Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) provides detailed feedback and a great opportunity for students to get familiar with the end of the year SBAC assessment. This year Everest experimented with the Interim Comprehensive Assessment (ICA) to see our students standing mid-year in relation to the exam. Teachers use this data to set goals for the SBAC exam and compare with their NWEA data. Individual student reports, that highlight areas of weakness allow teachers to find trends in the data and adjust their teaching to the needs of the students. This year, Everest aims to find a correlation between the SBAC exams and NWEA exam to refine our approach to data driven instruction.
Everest Value School believes that literacy achievement is vital to the success of students in college and in life. Therefore, we have developed a data driven literacy program with the following components to support our students’ growth.
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Reading Level Assessments: All K-8 literacy teachers have been trained on how to assess students’ independent reading levels using the STAR Reading Test. This computer-based test assesses 46 reading skills in four major skill areas: foundational skills, reading literature, reading informational text, and language. The test also provides teachers with an instructional and independent reading level for each student. The data from this assessment is used by teachers to target and differentiate instruction and is communicated to students and parents to help each student select books at the appropriate level. All 1st-8th grade teachers are required to assess students’ reading levels at the beginning of the year and then re-administer the test every 8-12 weeks to measure growth.
Independent Reading: Based on research showing that time spent independently reading is the best predictor of reading achievement, Everest Value School places a strong emphasis on giving students adequate time for reading self-selected books at their independent reading level during the school day. All K-8 literacy teachers include 15-45 minutes of silent sustained reading in their schedule each day, with the amount of time increasing throughout the grade levels. Teachers also assign at least 20 minutes of independent reading for homework each night to give students more reading time each day. Students are held accountable for this by completing a reading log to keep track of the time they spend reading and by taking reading quizzes on Accelerated Reader.
Leveled Classroom Libraries: To support independent reading time, all classrooms have leveled libraries with quality texts at a broad range of reading levels. Libraries are organized to give students easy access to books at their independent reading level and each teacher trains their students on how to use the classroom library.
Targeted Literacy Instruction: Reading and writing are heavily emphasized in every classroom at Everest Value School. Lower elementary teachers use literacy centers, guided reading, read alouds, and a variety of phonics, fluency, and vocabulary activities to develop foundational reading skills needed for future success. Upper elementary and middle school teachers expose students to a variety of complex texts and teach close reading strategies to support students in thinking critically about what they read. All teachers differentiate literacy instruction to support each student in their areas of need using data from the NWEA benchmark and STAR Reading test.
Words Their Way: As part of the data driven model of literacy instruction, Everest K-2 cluster has adopted the Words Their Way program to support phonics instruction and progress monitoring. Three times a year, teachers will give the spelling inventory to all students to assess how to plan their RTI reading time. The inventory allows for readers to be grouped based on specific skill deficits from short vowels to blending and syllabic spelling. This data has correlated with the STAR test to guide teachers to provide an appropriate independent reading materials for students at these emerging stages.
Lucy Calkins: Everest purchased materials from the Lucy Calkins writing program after the academic council deemed that our slight declines in ELA scores on the SBAC were due to a lack of writing proficiency. These materials include writing rubrics, suggested pacing guides, exemplar writing samples, enrichment guides, and lesson scripts for teachers to follow. The materials have proven to be helpful for teachers and allow our students to improve in writing.
Voyages in English: Also in regards to our drop in ELA scores, Everest purchased a grammar program for Loyola Press to assist our students in their grammar study. Voyages has proven to be an easy and efficient manner in teaching grammar to our students. The worksheet clarify grammar objectives for our students and are quick lessons that don’t dominate class time.
Wordly Wise: The next addition to our literacy program this year is Wordly Wise vocabulary. The Wordly Wise lessons take vocabulary terms and have students learn the roots, suffixes, prefixes, and parts of speech in addition to word meanings. Students read the words within a short story, use them in sentences, and focus on their usage outside of the program so that students can engross themselves in the knowledge of new words.
Literacy Professional Development: Teachers are trained throughout the year on new strategies and best practices to improve literacy achievement. This has included professional development on implementing independent reading, setting up classroom libraries, using Accelerated Reader and STAR Reading, and strategies to help struggling readers.
School-wide Literacy Events: The mentor teachers wors with other teachers and staff members to plan events to encourage a love of reading in all students. These events include “reading marathons” throughout the school year, buddy reading between classes at different grade levels, teachers reading aloud to different grade levels to share their favorite books, and celebrating Read Across America Day.