Year 3, Fourth Quarter Report



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New Mexico Reading First Evaluation


Year 3, Fourth Quarter Report

January 16, 2007

Prepared by EDC’s Center for Children and Technology

Naomi Hupert, Dr. Wendy Martin

Cricket Heinze, Helga Perez, Lauren Bates, Simon Shulman
Executive Summary
This report reflects evaluation activities that took place between October 1, 2006 and January 15, 2007. The qualitative information gathered for this report comes from site visits conducted between September and December of 2006. During this time a total of 11 districts were visited, and 75 interviews conducted. The quantitative data come from the September 2006 administration of the DIBELS assessment.
Key Findings

Comparison between new and returning New Mexico Reading First students

Students returning to New Mexico Reading First (NMRF) schools are more equipped to achieve Benchmark status than students who are new to NMRF. This suggests that NMRF is having a positive impact on students, and that this impact lasts through the summer months and continues into the following academic year.


Level of need for new schools

New Reading First schools continue to enter the program with students reading at very low levels. While the overall level of academic need of schools may be rising somewhat as the state has targeted the most needy schools first for this program, many schools joining NMRF in Cohort III demonstrate a great need for differentiated and intensive instruction.

Addressing the first grade drop-off:

An analysis of student performance in first grade has lead to the finding that students who enter Kindergarten at Intensive or Strategic support recommendations but make great gains and enter first grade at Benchmark, are very likely to fall behind by the January assessment in first grade. Our data indicate that 86% of students who fail to maintain Benchmark status at the January assessment in first grade, were students who entered Kindergarten at the Intensive or Strategic support recommendation. Additional support for these students before the 1st grade January assessment is recommended.

Summary of qualitative study of Dual Language and NMRF

A small number of NMRF schools are implementing both a dual language model and also Reading First. Teachers and their administrators require additional support, resources and information in order to meet the demands of both these programs, and can benefit from colleagues struggling with the challenge of accomplishing full literacy in two languages simultaneously.


Summary of site visit findings to schools with low performance on the DIBELS

Site visits were made to 14 schools identified as the most struggling in a range of areas. These schools had several common elements that should be addressed through intensified professional development:



  • Reading Block and intervention times: educators need clarification on the importance of an uninterrupted reading block and intervention time. Many observations were made of interruptions or missed interventions.

  • Environmental and Instructional issues: evaluators noted the need to provide explicit information about the role of environmental print and exposure of students to text in multiple locations (books, signs, artwork, student work, teacher work). Evaluators also noted the need to assist teachers in solidifying their understanding of aspects of phonics and the underlying skills for reading, as well as insuring that skill work is tied to reading grade and ability level texts.

  • Engaging students: evaluators noted a need for teachers to be more responsive to student needs and to their level of engagement.


Recommendations

Recommendations covered the following areas:



  • Addressing the dip in the number of first grade students at Benchmark

  • Addressing the challenge of dual language instruction with in NMRF

  • Targeting schools that continue to struggle with raising student DIBELS support recommendations


  • Identifying classroom environments that support student reading

  • Addressing issues of classroom management within the context of student engagement and differentiated instruction

  • Addressing “effective instruction” for reading

  • Using assessment data

  • Supporting new schools in Reading First Implementation

New Mexico Reading First Evaluation

Year 3, Fourth Quarter Report

January 16, 2007

Prepared by EDC’s Center for Children and Technology

Naomi Hupert, Dr. Wendy Martin

Cricket Heinze, Helga Perez, Lauren Bates, Simon Shulman
Introduction

This document reflects evaluation activities that took place between October 1, 2006 and January 15, 2007 as part of the New Mexico Reading First (NMRF) evaluation. This evaluation “quarter” extends beyond the previously planned delivery date of December 31, 2006, because of a shift in our contract end date. That date is now extended to March 31, 2007. The qualitative information gathered for this report come from site visits conducted between September and December of 2006. During this time a total of 11 districts were visited, and 75 interviews conducted (Table 1).


Table 1: Site visits & observations conducted September – December 2006

Districts
Visited


Schools
Visited


Observations
conducted during . . .


School Staff Interviewed

11

22

38

75




Reading Block

Administrative Staff *

Teachers

27

49

26

3

Kindergarten

8

District Coordinators




8

1st grade

17

Principals

8

2nd grade

26

Reading Coaches, Interventionists

4

3rd grade

2

Other

4

Mixed grades




Interventions

11

Conducted by Reading Coach, Teacher or Interventionist

* Interviewees that have multiple positions are counted more than once.
The evaluation activities during this period focused on three tasks:

• An analysis of school DIBELS data from the September 2006 assessment period, and some longitudinal analyses of DIBELS data to address specific questions about the program.


• Site visits to those schools that have not demonstrated an ability to improve student reading as measured by the DIBELS assessment. Schools that met a minimum of two out of five indicators of poor performance were identified for site visits, and all visits included an observation of at least one reading block and interviews with staff, including teachers, coaches and school-level administrators.
• A summary of the focused study on dual language classrooms that examines how NMRF functions in these environments.
The September data include student information for both returning and new NMRF schools. Because of the large number of new (Cohort III), schools joining NMRF, we have been able to generate a comparison of student skill levels for those students who have already participated in NMRF and those who are new to NMRF. While this comparison was generated using September data last year, this year’s findings are more robust because of the large numbers of new students entering NMRF.

Overall, we see a pattern indicating that students who have received reading instruction for one or more years in a NMRF classroom are more likely to be at Benchmark in September than their peers who have not had NMRF reading instruction. This difference is evident across all grades, with first grade showing the greatest difference of 15.4% between new and returning students. Our analysis of struggling schools indicates that there are recurrent problems related to program implementation and classroom instruction that have prevented these schools from adequately providing students with the support they need to read at grade level. Our summary of the dual language program suggests that the program can be successful in these classrooms, although there are definite challenges to address. At the end of the report, we provide a section offering a range of recommendations based on the information included in this document. These recommendations are intended to support the ongoing development of the NMRF program, and to assist the NM PED, district and school-based staff in implementing systematic and effective reading instruction for all students.


Analysis of DIBELS Data
In the following section we present an analysis of findings from the September 2006 administration of the DIBELS in NMRF schools. This year a new cohort of schools was added to the NMRF program, and a number of other schools from previous years are no longer in the program. September data show that NMRF schools from all cohorts have large numbers of students who are not reading at grade level and need extra instruction and support. However, the data also show that those students who have been in the program are performing better on the DIBELS, even at the beginning of the year, than those who have not been in the program, which suggests that the program is having a real and lasting impact on students.
Difference in DIBELS results for new vs. returning NMRF students

The September 2006 DIBELS results show that there are substantial differences in the percentage of new and returning students who receive the different support recommendations (see Figure 1). Statewide, 18% more returning students were reading at Benchmark on the September DIBELS than students new to NMRF, and 12% more new students were identified as needing Intensive support.


Figure 1. Sept. 06 DIBELS results for new and returning students


This finding is consistent for all grade levels (see Tables 2 and 3) (since all Kindergartners are new to the program, they are not included in the analysis), and ethnicities (see Figures 2 and 3).

Table 2. Difference in percentage of students at Benchmark who were in NMRF their previous year and students not in NMRF their previous year (n=9935)


Grade

% Benchmark of students exposed to NMRF previous year

% Benchmark of students not exposed to NMRF previous year

% Difference*

Sept. ‘05

Sept. ‘06

Sept. ‘05

Sept. ‘06

Sept. ‘05

Sept. ‘06

1st Grade

55%

69.5%

44%

54.1%

+ 11%

+ 15.4%

2nd Grade

38%

46.3%

28%

37.9%

+ 10%


+ 9.4%

3rd Grade

35%

44.8%

28%

35.6%

+ 7%

+ 9.2%

*All percentages of difference are statistically significant.
Table 2 shows comparisons in numbers of students at Benchmark for new and returning NMRF students. Data for two years are presented here because this table provides evidence that the NMRF program is having a positive impact on student reading skills as measured by the DIBELS, but also because that impact appears to be increasing over a two-year period. More students returning to NMRF classrooms are at Benchmark in September of this year than were at Benchmark in September of last year.
This positive trend holds true for students identified as needing Intensive support. Table 3 shows that fewer students returning to NMRF classrooms need Intensive support than students who are new to NMRF. In addition, fewer returning students need Intensive support this year than last year.
Table 3. Difference in percentage of students needing Intensive support who were in NMRF their previous year and students not in NMRF their previous year (n=2739)

Grade


% Intensive of students exposed to NMRF previous year

% Intensive of students not exposed to NMRF previous year

% Difference*

Sept. ‘05

Sept. ‘06

Sept. ‘05

Sept. ‘06

Sept. ‘05

Sept. ‘06

1st Grade

11%

8.5%

20%

20.2%

- 9.0%

- 11.7%

2nd Grade

22%

23.5%

33%

34.2%

- 11.0%

- 10.7%

3rd Grade

25%

26.5%


34%

35.8%

- 9.0%

- 9.3%

*All percentages of difference are statistically significant except for second grade, 2006, which does not show a statistical significance.
It is also interesting to note that overall, the number of students attaining Benchmark increased across both categories. This might reflect a statewide trend in improved reading instruction and performance among students, or might reflect a shift in teaching in those schools where NMRF proposals had been written and new programming was anticipated. However, it is also important to consider the fact that those schools joining NMRF as part of Cohort III are likely serving students who are less at-risk than the schools in Cohorts I and II. This also may explain why more students entered the program reading at Benchmark this year than last year.
However, this trend does not hold true for students who are new to NMRF and who are identified as needing Intensive support. The percentage of students needing Intensive support varies by between one and two percentage points and does not mirror the increase in Benchmark students across all categories as indicated above. This suggests that while non-NMRF schools may be increasing their ability to bring moderately-behind students up to grade level reading, these schools require strategies, materials and programming to support students reading at the lowest levels.
DIBELS data for September 2006 have also been analyzed by ethnicity (Figures 2 and 3) and again, those students who are returning to NMRF show better performance than those who are new to the program.

Figure 2. Percentage of new and returning students at Intensive on the Sept 06 DIBELS, by ethnicity



Figure 3. Percentage of new and returning students at Benchmark on the Sept 06 DIBELS, by ethnicity



Overall September DIBELS results by school and district

In previous reports, we have used the threshold of 70% of students at Benchmark as a way of identifying schools that are close to the goal of having all students reading at grade level. Normally, the number of districts and schools that reach this threshold increases over the course of the year, as students are exposed to the NMRF program. The September DIBELS data indicate that there is not a single district that started the year with 70% of its students reading at Benchmark. This is not surprising, since the districts chosen to participate in the program are supposed to be the highest need districts in the state. There were, however, nine districts that started the year with half or more of their students at Benchmark (Table 4). All of these districts are ones that have been in the program for at least two years already.


Table 4. District__Percentage_of_students__at_Benchmark'>Districts with 50% or more of their students at Benchmark in September

District

Percentage of students

at Benchmark


Las Vegas

60

Alamogordo

58

Roswell

55

West Las Vegas

55

Zuni

55

Lake Arthur

54

Mora

54

Hagerman

52

Dexter

51

Conversely, there are eleven districts whose September DIBELS results indicate that they need to provide extra instruction to a substantial number of their students (Table 5). These districts have 30% or more of their students needing Intensive support at the beginning of the year, and therefore face significant challenges. Three of the six new Cohort III districts are in this group, indicating that the state has continued to select high need school to receive program services.


Table 5. Districts with 30% or more students at Intensive in September

District

Percentage of students

at Intensive

Hobbs

41


Albuquerque

39

Central

35

Vaughn

35

Deming

33

Española

33

Jemez Mountain

33

Eunice

32

Loving

32

Gallup-McKinley

30

Mesa Vista

30




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