Vanderbilt’s Henderson Teacher Training Series to conclude with poster session and reception

April 23, 2002

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Teachers from Metro Public Schools and the Westminster School of Nashville who have taken part in the Britt Henderson Teacher Training Series at Vanderbilt University’s John F. Kennedy Center will present the results of their use of research-based strategies for assessment, reading, and behavior management, Thursday, April 25, 4 p.m.

The 2001-02 Henderson Series focused on research-based strategies for students with learning differences to achieve accountability objectives on school improvement plans. Education researchers at the John F. Kennedy Center and Peabody College led three fall sessions addressing Curriculum-Based Measurement, Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies and Functional Assessment and Positive Behavior Support. All these strategies have been demonstrated to improve student outcomes and are practical for teachers to use.

In addition to Westminster School of Nashville, participating Metro elementary schools include Dupont, Hermitage, Hickman, Ross, and Rosebank. At this final session of the series, teachers will present posters showing strategies they implemented and student growth.

Educators and others are invited to view the posters and join participants and sponsors at a recognition reception at the future site of Westminster School of Nashville, 6546 Murray Lane in Brentwood. For information call 343-2540.

Several of the schools used Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies (PALS) in which students are paired for reading practice and trained to take turns as “coach” and “player.” Misty Palmer, teacher at Hermitage Elementary, reported that she used PALS for four months as part of her class’s reading practice. Of the 12 students taking part in PALS, 10 showed growth in grade equivalent reading scores and 10 showed growth in their instructional reading levels. Student comments included “PALS has helped me learn to read,” and “I like doing ‘prediction relay’ in PALS,” a reading activity in which students predict what may happen in a narrative, a strategy for improving comprehension.

Teachers at Rosebank Elementary used Curriculum-Based Measurement (CBM), a software program for brief, weekly tests on reading and math that charts individual and class-wide progress.

A Rosebank teacher reported “With a quick look at my teacher’s report on skill profiles, I can know what skills I need to cover and for which students. CBM has greatly improved parent-teacher communication and has involved parents in their child’s math learning. I score tests the same day the student takes them. I send scored tests home. Parents review tests and help students correct and complete the test. Parents report great satisfaction with the added awareness and involvement with the child’s learning.”

A Rosebank student reported CBM “helps my mind focus on what I’m doing. I am so happy because I like being in school and doing computation tests.”

Hickman Elementary teachers used PALS Reading and followed a group of students with limited to moderate reading ability. For these students, teachers reported significant improvement in areas of word sense and order, verbal expression, and phonics use, concluding, “Reading levels have increased one-half to one year through the use of PALS. All students have increased self-correcting skills.” Hickman teachers were motivated to apply for a grant for reading material and received $750 that they used to increase class libraries.

DuPont Elementary used PALS Reading and Math CBM in a fourth grade class. A student wrote, “With PALS I have read tons of books. I feel happy that I can sit down in the middle of the day and read with a partner. I feel it has helped me a lot.” Teacher Diane Walker reported that results of the STAR reading assessment in January showed noticeable improvement in reading scores for 18 of 22 students as compared to their STAR scores in September, with students gaining from 5 months to 2 years-4 months growth.

“I attribute the gains to the PALS Reading program and their growing enthusiasm about reading in general,” Walker said. Walker’s class earned the most accelerated reading learning points and won an ice cream party sponsored by the Nashville Predators hockey team.

Similar success in CBM math was reported at DuPont. Walker indicated that her students “have steadily gained speed and improvements in their math skills, I attribute our success to the CBM math program.”

The Britt Henderson Training Series is made possible by an endowment from the Henderson family in memory of their son Britt. Its purpose is to provide training for general and special education teachers in elementary schools in order to improve the quality of education for students with diverse learning needs. The series is sponsored by the John F. Kennedy Center in cooperation with Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools and Westminster School of Nashville.

Contact: Princine Lewis, (615) 322-NEWS

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