February 29th, 2024

intervention graphThis chart shows the improvement of USD 480 elementary school students in math instruction. USD 480 intervention Intervention Coordinator Jennifer Hyde said while there are still improvements to be made, she is very proud of the progress seen by the students in reading and math. L&T photo/Elly GrimmELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times


Intervention work goes on every day in the USD 480 schools and recently, District Intervention Coordinator Jennifer Hyde gave an update with how that work is going. 

“One of my jobs as the intervention coordinator is to keep track of our data that’s required by the state and make sure the buildings aren’t having any issues with the screeners and doing any professional development we need to do during the year with new teachers and all of that,” Hyde said. “I’ve already been to each building going over their data with them for this year, and we do talk about interventions where the students need it the most and what we can do to help them. A few years ago, when I started this job, the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) started requiring us to do a reading screener for all students. All students in kindergarten through 5th grade are screened using DIBELS, which is the Dynamic Indicators of Early Literacy Skills, and we do that at the beginning of the year, the middle of the year, and the end of the year. Data collected for students in kindergarten through 3rd grade are reported to the KSDE at the end of the academic year. They are adding grades every year, so we will have some new things we’ll have to do next year. Students who are identified as being below the benchmarks are the ones who receive those interventions.”

Hyde then went into more detail about how the testing works.

“I was very excited about how things ended up, because in December, when there’s sickness going around and vacations and everything else, we try to get all the testing done before we went on break, and we were at 98 percent complete with our students, and we tested 2,038 students,” Hyde said. “All students take the test except those students who have severe disabilities who might not be able to verbally take the tests. It is a one-on-one test where the teacher sits down with the student and tests them. There’s one part of the test that’s a comprehension test, and that is done on the computer for students in 2nd through 5th grade. Benchmark tests are not the same tests three times a year, they’re more focused on ‘Here’s the benchmark of where you need to be at this point of the year,’ and it increases at the middle of the year and at the end of the year. Students’ reading skill gaps are being taught at the same time other grade level skills are being taught. For those students who are lower and missing some skill gaps, they’re being taught those in intervention, and they’re also being taught their grade level standards in the classroom at the same time.”

Hyde then went into the data itself.

“For the district-wide composite reading scores for students in kindergarten, we had 68 percent of those students at the beginning of the year who came in below benchmark levels, and that’s more than a few years ago when Lana [Evans] and I went through that data, and that showed only 50 percent of our kindergarteners had attended a preschool of some sort,” Hyde said. “I’m very proud to say the number of those students who were below benchmark levels at the beginning of the year shrunk to 55 percent. Also, at the beginning of the year, there were only 5 percent who were considered above benchmark levels, and now that number is 7 percent. We always want to see at least some growth. With first grade, there wasn’t a lot of movement between the beginning of the year and middle of the year, so we know there’s some work to be done there. The expectation of what you learn between kindergarten and 1st grade is huge. With 2nd grade, it’s almost the same story as with the 1st grade, those numbers didn’t move a whole lot, and we even grew our above benchmark students from 36 students to 51.”

Hyde then talked about the scores for 3rd through 5th grade students. 

“With the 3rd grade, the number of students below benchmarks remained about the same, but we did increase from 38 students to 51 for going above the benchmarks,” Hyde said. “With 4th grade, the number of students below benchmarks grew a little bit, but the students above benchmarks grew from 15 students to 44. I attribute this – and as I go to the buildings and talk – our core instruction is what’s keeping some of those numbers growing, because they are rigorous grade level standards, so as we continue challenging those students, they’re only going to grow. With the 5th grade, the numbers remained about the same, but we also maintained some of those above benchmark numbers.”

Hyde then talked about phonemic awareness data. 

“Phonemic awareness is the ability to notice, think about, and work with the individual sounds in spoken words. We start in kindergarten and even in pre-K, and we’re enriching the students in listening to our language,” Hyde said. “We sing, we rhyme, we talk and a lot of other activities. We talk sounds in words, how many words are in a sentence, changing the beginning/ending sounds of words. My office is at the pre-K and I always hear them out the door and the teacher will ask ‘How many sounds are in the word STOP?’ and the students will actually sound everything out. The brain’s ability to identify those sounds and then link it to print is one of the biggest indicators of a student being able to be a fluent reader by 3rd grade. Our kindergarteners did amazing with this skill going from 60 percent of the students being below benchmarks to 56 percent, and we increased the number of students above benchmarks from 13 students to 47. CKLA is very strong with phonemic awareness at the kindergarten and 1st grade levels.”

Hyde added there are improvements to be done with decoding with 1st grade students and said there have been improvements seen with fluency and accuracy with the students in 2nd and 3rd grade. 

“Second grade and 3rd grade are very pivotal years for students and whether they’re able to use all the skills they’ve learned in order to be able to read text.” Hyde said. “We start testing for that in 2nd grade to see if they’re applying those skills.”

For the reading scores, Hyde said, she feels positive about how they turned out.

“Lana and I meet with Amplify on a regular basis, and they always have good information for us as well as great support anytime we have a question,” Hyde said. “We looked at data the last time we met, and I thought it was very interesting they found through their studies how nationwide, 60 percent of students will meet their projected growth at the middle of the year. All of our grade levels except for two have made that projected growth goal, which means out students’ skills are growing.”

Hyde then went into more detail about how intervention works before quickly talking about the math results, which she said she was very pleased with. 

“We use iReady as our math curriculum, and like with the reading, we take a benchmark test three times a year for it,” Hyde said. “At the beginning of the year, we had 257 students who were three or more grade levels below, and now, we have only 146 students who are at that level. As for the students who were two grade levels below, we went from 561 students at the beginning of the year to 370 students. With students who were one grade level below, we went from 1,013 students to 1,042, and you actually want that to grow because that means there’s improvement. With the students who were on early grade level, we went from 70 to 169, and then for the students who were above grade level, that number went from 23 students to 97. Just like with the reading tests, we want to see gains with each round of testing. Overall, with both the reading and math, we know there are improvements to be made, and we are working on that. But we are pleased with how things are moving so far. If students can’t read or do math, there are so many other things they won’t be able to do.”