Turner school works on data-driven teaching

Teachers dig into data to improve teaching and learning.

TURNER — Teachers at Turner Primary School are trying to figure out how they can best use data to improve the instruction they offer their 300 students in pre-kindergarten through third grade.

But they’re finding it’s a struggle to generate enough data on the performance of their youngest students, who haven’t yet started taking standardized tests, said Principal Theresa Gillis.

Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen spoke with Gillis and with teachers at the elementary school Tuesday, as he started touring the state in his first 100 days on the job.

Teachers at the school have started regularly updating Google spreadsheets with information about student performance on reading exams and tweaking instruction accordingly. They’re still deciding what other data they should include in regular updates on student performance.

That doesn’t mean, however, that Turner Primary School teachers aren’t specializing instruction for each student.

Teachers and other staff members at the school set aside time each day to work with small groups of students on developing the skills that need most attention. HOOT (Helping Out Others Together) Time, involves everyone from the principal to the custodian in working with students on reading comprehension, math and other skills, Gillis said.

A few other initiatives in place at Turner Primary School:

• After piloting pre-kindergarten at Leeds Central School for a year, RSU 52 has introduced pre-kindergarten programs in Turner and Greene. Students attend for two full days each week.
• A recent student project involved art and technology instructors working together on an undertaking that involved a colorful combination of computer-generated concentric circles and poetry.

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