District Uses Assessment Data to Drive Pre-K Instruction for Native English Speakers and Bilingual Students

Georgetown, TX | serving 10,470 students in PK-12

SUMMARY

Georgetown ISD is a large district with 16 schools and a satellite Head Start campus. About 46% of the district’s population is economically disadvantaged and almost 12% is composed of students with limited English proficiency. The district uses the Children’s Progress Academic Assessment (CPAA) with pre-kindergarteners across several campuses. Administering the assessment to Spanish-speaking Bilingual students in both English and Spanish helps educators tailor instruction to student performance and distinguish learning needs from English language acquisition needs.

Our district’s number one goal is exemplary performance. One part of that is using data to get there. The CPAA is a great tool because it helps us use our performance and progress information to set goals. It has been especially helpful for identifying the needs of our Spanish-speaking Bilingual students. Being able to assess them in their native language and in English in the same format is very valuable.”

Hilda Franks
Early Childhood Coordinator

CHALLENGE

Prior to using the CPAA, Georgetown used a district-developed assessment in prekindergarten, designed to align with the State of Texas Pre-Kindergarten guidelines. When the district received an opportunity to fund an externally-developed assessment through the Texas Pre-K Early Start grant, administrators chose to implement the CPAA.

SOLUTION

Georgetown has been using the CPAA as a benchmark assessment in all prekindergarten classrooms (including Head Start) since the fall of 2009. The CPAA is administered three times a year and is the only formal assessment used with this age group.

“With the help of the CPAA, we want to determine where each child is, as far as literacy and mathematics readiness is concerned,” explains Georgetown’s Early Childhood Coordinator, Hilda Franks.

The CPAA is administered to both native English speakers and Spanish-speaking students who are working to learn English. Limited English Proficient students are assessed with the CPAA in Spanish in the fall, in Spanish then English mid-year and in English then Spanish in the spring. “Using the assessment in this way helps us get a solid snapshot of how the students’ English skills are progressing throughout the year,” says Franks.

The district has recently implemented an early exit language program for students. Educators make data-based recommendations for student placement in kindergarten and use CPAA reports to inform their recommendations to parents.

In addition to informing the instruction and placement of Bilingual students, CPAA reports are used by teachers to inform grouping decisions and determine whether individual students need help in specific skill areas. Automatically generated activities help teachers choose next steps for the classroom and create developmentally appropriate activities for use in the eight essential classroom learning centers (including Literacy, Math and Technology).

All pre-kindergarten teachers in the district meet as a group with Franks several times a year for intensive professional development workshops which utilize CPAA data. Describing the meetings, Franks says, “Teachers collaborate in small groups to answer specific questions, such as ‘What was my area of strength in literacy?’ They then brainstorm goals like ‘If phonemic awareness was the lowest scoring area, what can we do to improve? Who can I talk to in the room to help?’”

At the administrative level, CPAA reports are reviewed to identify overall strengths and weaknesses, demographic trends and planning priorities.

IMPACT

Data-driven Instruction, Enhanced Through Collaboration
Collaboration across classrooms and campuses is key to Georgetown’s success. Franks asserts, “Sharing and discussing our CPAA data across campuses is a great team-building strategy.” She adds, “When we meet at the end of the year, we review how far we’ve come since the fall. Each campus posts findings around the room. Evaluating what worked well and what we can improve helps us plan for next year.”

Meeting the Needs of Bilingual Students
The fact that the CPAA is available in both English and Spanish makes it possible to assess native English speakers and native Spanish speakers with the same tool and be able to compare results. Using the assessment in both languages in prekindergarten allows teachers to identify Bilingual students’ needs as early as possible and help keep them moving toward English mastery at an appropriate pace while also working to cover essential prekindergarten concepts.

User-Friendly Reporting Suite Puts the Focus on Next Steps
Franks points out that the intuitive reporting interface helps her focus on what she wants to do with her data rather than on learning how to use the program. “It’s so user-friendly to look up any child in any classroom. We have a lot of students who transition from one campus to another and the interface makes it easy to track everyone without losing any data,” she shares.

Franks also mentions that the demographics feature is helpful from an administrative standpoint. “Expectations across the district are the same but the prekindergarten population is not. Campus demographics vary a lot across the district and it’s informative for us to see whether performance differences are related to demographic factors,” she explains.