Sunday, September 26, 2021

Whitefish Schools set to implement new testing tool

Whitefish Pilot | June 30, 2021 1:00 AM

The Whitefish School District plans to implement a testing tool in the fall that is expected to provide a personalized learning path for each student.

After reviewing potential progress monitoring tools, the school district is implementing the i-Ready, an assessment designed to provide educators with insight into the needs of students. The School Board recently approved implementation of the monitoring tool.

Throughout the 2020-21 school year, a committee of educators and school staff collaborated to review different assessment tools. In that process the committee looked at WSD data regarding academic screening and diagnostics while simultaneously reviewing and piloting new progress monitoring tools, the district noted.

Using effective progress monitoring tools is essential to a district that utilizes PLCs, or Professional Learning Communities, which involves teams of educators who share ideas to enhance the learning environment within the school, according to the district.

“Having trusted, reliable, credible data is critical to the PLC process,” WSD Curriculum Director Ryder Delaloye told the board. “So much of the PLC process is grounded in the intention to establish how to meet the needs of students, but in order to accomplish that we first must have credible data that guides that process.”

The committee that formed to test the diagnostic and progress monitoring programs worked with other Montana school districts and third-party national review organizations before determining which program was the best option for Whitefish.

In the board meeting Adrienne Johnson, special services teacher at Whitefish High School, explained that the i-Ready platform can give grade-level data, but also shows more specific data to see if students are meeting proficiency standards in certain subjects.

“We really realized as an assessment team that this would meet all of the needs that were already being met with [the current testing], but it would add extensive layers for individual student progress monitoring and provide instructional tools and activities for individual students that can be done remotely, in-person, as small groups,” she said.

The middle school and Muldown will implement the new i-Ready program, but the elementary school will also keep the DIBELS 8 and Lexia programs for the next school year to help with progress monitoring. The committee will reevaluate the use of the programs if there is any redundancy by using all three tools.

The district plans to use the i-Ready three times per year, but also if intervention is needed with specific students, the diagnostic tool can be utilized at shorter intervals throughout the year to guide the intervention process.

“The student is struggling in these areas and we have these different strategies, are these strategies effective?” Delaloy said. “And with that feedback, that can inform the PLC process we can meet the needs of students more effectively.”