A LYS Reader asks:


I attended my state’s Principals’ Conference this summer and had the pleasure of attending two of your new presentations.  I have heard you speak several times over the past few years and have slowly introduced your ideas and suggestions them to my staff.  This year we are going to focus on better Fundamental 5 implementation, especially critical in the light of new realities of the Accountability Age.  Our scores have been severely hampered by the sheer number of students that re-test each testing period and we want to do everything possible to get these students to pass and focus on our first time testers.  

Any suggestions or support from LYS would be welcome.  I am also interested in what LYS does or offers schools on an individual basis. 

Thank you.

SC Response

Good question. Here are some of my thoughts.

1.  Re-testers are a big issue at more schools than you can imagine.  But these students aren’t the problem; they are the symptom of a problem or problems.   The re-tester issue did not occur over night, so there is no instantaneous fix, but there are a couple of things that address this in the mid to long term.

            A. Get on Pace: If your students do not see all the content they will be tested on, their performance on STAAR will be significantly hampered.  Which means that pacing is Priority 1 in the STAAR era.  You can probably count the people who understand this on one hand.  (LYS can and does help schools with this.)

            B. Teach Better: The rigor (level of student thinking) required to succeed on the STAAR test exceeds the rigor typically observed in classrooms.  This is not a blanket indictment of teachers. Instead it is a fair analysis of the test.  You will not get the rigor you need by berating, threatening and/or ignoring teachers (practices common in all too many schools).  It is going to take on-going training, cueing, coaching and support.  Which means that for the first time, campus leadership is as on the hook for the quality of instruction as individual teachers. (LYS can and does help schools with this.)

            C. Intervene Quicker: This one ought to be a “no brainer,” but it isn’t.  What this means is if you know you have students showing up on the first day of school all ready behind, start intervening immediately. After school support, before school support, one semester concurrent support classes, etc.  Do anything but wait to intervene… Unlike almost every campus. (LYS can and does help schools with this.)

            D. Red Shirt Your Freshmen: Or as I describe it, play the game to win.  Freshmen do not have to take Algebra 1, Biology and English 1 as freshman.  We just schedule them in those classes because that’s what we have always done. You can swap pre-algebra for Algebra 1 (it would be for local credit, but with the 8 and 9 period day, there are credits to spare). You can swap IPC for Biology. You can swap English 4 for English 1 (though this may not be popular with the English Department). Do this and every student will be better prepared for the STAAR, which means fewer re-testers. (LYS can and does help schools with this.)

            E. Lead Your Feeder Pattern: Once you get your house in order, lead your feeder pattern.  The typical High School cashes the check written by its middle and elementary schools.  You can either accept that, or leverage your budget and position to get them working more aligned with both the district’s scope and sequence and your campus. (LYS can and does help schools with this.)

2. We, LYS (Lead Your School), work with schools and districts across the country.  The level of support varies based on the needs of the client.  Which means that our scope of services spans from 1-day leadership consultation sessions, to embedded teacher training over the course of an entire year.  Topics include scope and sequence implementation, formative classroom observation, common assessment implementation, staff coaching, and improved instructional practices. Probably the best thing to do is give us a call and we can figure out how we can best help you and your team.

Think. Work. Achieve. Your turn…

  • Call Jo at (832) 477-LEAD to order your campus set of “The Fundamental 5: The Formula for Quality Instruction.” Individual copies available on Amazon.com!  http://tinyurl.com/Fundamental5 
  • Now at the Apple App Store: Fun 5 Timer (Fundamental 5 Delivery Tool); PowerWalks CLC (Networked Formative Observation Tool) 
  • Upcoming Presentations: LYS / TASSP Advanced Leadership Academy (Keynote); The 2016 Texas Charter School Conference (Multiple Presentations); The 4th Annual Fundamental 5 National Summit (Keynote) 
  • Follow Sean Cain and LYS on www.Twitter.com/LYSNation  and like Lead Your School on Facebook