Teacher collaboration helping improve PSSA scores
Southmoreland Curriculum Coordinator Timothy Scott said over the past several years, the district has become a model in raising PSSA scores dramatically through the incorporation of team collaboration between teachers.
"Southmoreland Middle School has made tremendous strides in narrowing the achievement gap as measured by the PSSA," Scott said. "In the years 2002 to 2009, the eighth-grade math scores (percent proficient and advanced) have increased from 39 percent to 86 percent and in reading from 55 to 88 percent."
Middle school seventh graders, at 92 percent proficient, scored the highest in Westmoreland County and 16th in the state.
In 2008 the Southmoreland Elementary School was under a warning but after implementing the team collaboration between teachers in each grade, the scores increased dramatically.
"In math from 2008 to 2009, the PSSA scores for grade three improved from 87 to 94 percent, for grade four from 80 to 92 percent and for grade five from 57 to 81 percent," Scott said.
The same improvement was seen on reading scores where third grade improved from 77 to 86 percent, 57 to 76 percent and 50 to 66 percent.
The three big ideas from the DuFour Community Model are focusing on learning, creating a collaborative culture and focusing on results.
"Teachers across the district work systematically and collaboratively to identify essential learnings, develop and administer common assessments, analyze results, establish specific targets and identify and implement improvement strategies," Scott said.
In order to make the program work, the district needed to create a common time for teachers within each grade to come together during the school day to meet and discuss how and what they are teaching and what things their students might be doing well in or having trouble with.
High School Principal Wes Nicholson said that for the first time this year the high school is working toward implementing the professional learning community model.
The school is already offering tutoring during school hours. Team meetings and collaborations between teachers have begun.
One of the challenges with this model is scheduling time for all of the teachers in the same grade to meet without interrupting student schedules.
Another challenge is getting all of the teachers to be on board with the idea — especially those teachers who like to teach their own thing at their own pace.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.