Thursday, January 31, 2013

8 Steps of Action Research




8 steps of action research

1.  Setting the Foundation
When collaborating with the leadership campus team, two problems were identified: 
1.  High school students reading significantly below grade.
2.  A lack of a campus reading intervention program. 
To address the problem, it was decided that a portion of the title 1 funds would be allocated to contract tutors to provide in school reading intervention.  The reading intervention will be provided to high school students that are reading significantly below grade level.  The program will take place during the students’ Delta/Study Lab class.  The students will receive tutoring for one hour a day, twice a week, for at least 15 weeks.  The goal is to increase student reading levels.  The purpose of this research study will be to evaluate the effectiveness of the title 1 funded in school tutoring program for reading intervention.    

2.  Analyzing Data
The initial data collected will be to determine which students will be participating in the intervention.  This will be decided through teacher input and the results of a reading assessment.  The STAR Reading Assessment will be given at the start and end of the tutoring program.  The effectiveness of the tutoring program will be evaluated based on a comparison of the pre and post assessment scores.  Other data collected will be student and teacher interviews.  I will interview teachers to see if the effects of the tutoring are noticeable in class.

3.  Developing a Deeper Understanding

To better understand the factors that can play a part in this research, I will learn more about the techniques and strategies that the tutors will use for the reading intervention.  I will gather additional data on the effectiveness of various techniques for reading intervention by reading relevant literature and applying it to what we are doing.  This will allow me to get a better understanding of how other tutoring programs have been successful at reading intervention so that I can do the same.

4.  Engaging in Self-Reflection

I will meet with the tutors for weekly updates on student progress.  This will allow me to reflect on what is working with students and what might not be working.  With this knowledge, I can continually question what is needed and how we might address problems that may arise.  Some questions that I may use for self-reflection: How do the students feel about the reading intervention?  What can be done to make the tutoring more effective?  Are the effects of the intervention noticeable to teachers?  Is the proposed weekly tutoring schedule efficient for student progress?  How might the tutoring schedule be tweaked for optimal results?  In what ways can we tutor students to increase reading levels? 

5.  Exploring Programmatic Patterns

Staying in close contact with the tutors, my administrator, students, and teachers will assist me in keeping the research on track.  If the students are not making progress, we may need to tweak the program.

6.  Determining Direction

The purpose of this study is to determine if a new in school tutoring program for reading intervention is effective at increasing student reading levels.  The main goal of this study is to improve the reading levels of students reading significantly below grade level.  When students are reading significantly below grade level, it hinders their ability to learn in all other subjects putting them at risk for failure.  The research project will be conducted by collaborating with the tutors.  The tutoring timeline is 15 weeks which is close to the average stay of the students in the facility.  This will determine if implementing a relatively short term tutoring program is effective at increasing student reading levels.   The plan will be evaluated for effectiveness by comparing pre and post reading assessments, and analyzing teacher reports of student achievement in the classroom.  Individual student progress will be closely monitored and any part of the tutoring plan can be revised and improved based on the observations.

7.  Taking Action for School Improvement

A committee consisting of the site mentor, counselor, director of the Austin Learning Center, tutors and myself will be established to complete this action research study.  The Harris et al. text, Tool 7.1 Action Planning Template will be used to guide the implementation of the research project.  A summative evaluation will be used to organize data that is collected during the research to reach conclusions and to share information.

8.  Sustain Improvement

A summary report of the action research project results will be shared with the members of the Leadership committee and school staff.  If the tutoring program is effective at increasing student reading levels, it will serve as justification for allocation of title 1 funds for the program in the future.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Help Wanted - Choosing my action research question

 I would love some feedback please:
I work in a residential treatment facility for juvenile offenders.  My kids are court ordered for up to 18 months in this particular facility, and we have a new program where kids can be sentenced for up to 3 years (kid prison really).  I've been here for 11 years, and the first 7 were spent teaching Reading in the Juvenile Detention Center next door.  One of the biggest problems that I see are high school kids reading significantly below grade level.  By significant I mean K-3rd grade reading levels.  This affects their ability to learn in all subjects, and all of these students are behind in all other subjects.   
I've wanted to implement some type of reading intervention program on this campus for some time (can you believe we don't have one?), and this year I asked if we could utilize title 1 funds for an intervention.  I was told that I could work with a tutoring company that was contracted with the district, and was budgeted a specific amount to spend.
 So, here are my possible action research questions.  They are all similar, just worded differently which I feel changes the focus somewhat.


1.  What is the effectiveness of a new in school tutoring program for reading intervention?

2.  How can we effectively increase reading levels in the short amount of time that our students are enrolled?  I know that some of the kids getting the tutoring will be released before the end of the program, so I am going to have students with different amounts of time spent tutoring. I wonder if this will be a problem for the research.

3.  Given the relatively short amount of time that students are enrolled in my school, will the new in school tutoring program for reading intervention be effective at increasing student reading levels?

Of the above 3 questions, which do you think is the best one to use as my research project question?

Or do you have another suggestion?

I would appreciate any feedback!  

Thank you so much!

Action Planning Template


Here is a revised copy of my action planning template.

-->
Action Planning Template
Goal: Determine the effectiveness of an in school tutoring program for reading intervention.
Action Steps(s):
Person(s) Responsible:
Timeline: Start/End
Needed Resources
Evaluation

1. Meet with the director of the Austin Learning Center to discuss possibilities of an in school tutoring program that focuses on reading improvement for secondary students reading significantly below grade level.


1. Christa Etheridge

2.  Director of Austin Learning Center

December 17, 2012

Collaboration

Tutoring options discussed and a plan is developed


2.  Assess students identified as reading below grade level using the research based STAR Reading Assessment.


1.  Christa Etheridge

2.  Austin Learning Center Tutor

January 23, 2013 – January 24, 2013

STAR Reading Assessment, computer

STAR Reading Assessment Results

3. Meet with the director of the Austin Learning Center and the school counselor to analyze the results and create a schedule for tutoring.


1.  Christa Etheridge

2.  Director of Austin Learning Center

January 25, 2013

Collaboration

Analysis of results, students chosen, schedule created

4.  Meet with Travis County Supervisors to review and accept proposed schedule. 

1.  Christa Etheridge
2.  Travis County Supervisors

January 25, 2013

Collaboration

Completed review and proposal acceptance by Travis County

5.  Review and accept proposal from the Austin Learning Center which includes the total number of tutoring hours and cost.


1.  Christa Etheridge

2.  Lead Teacher

January 28, 2013

Collaboration

Completed review and proposal acceptance

6. Develop a tutoring plan for each student based on assessed reading needs.


1. Director of Austin Learning Center

January 28, 2013 – January 29, 2013

STAR Reading Assessment Reports

Individual student intervention plans completed

7.  Tutors from the Austin Learning Center will provide a reading intervention program to identified students during their Delta/Study Lab class.
The tutoring will be twice a week, for at least 15 weeks.
As new students enroll in school, they will be given an assessment.  Those requiring intervention will be tutored as space becomes available (as students are withdrawn from school).



1.  Austin Learning Center Tutors

January 30, 2013 – May 15, 2013

Tutors, Challenger Reading Program, Read Naturally Reading Program

Progress monitoring through data collected during each tutoring session

8.  Ongoing communication with parents about the progress of the intervention.

1. Christa Etheridge

January 30, 2013 – May 15, 2013
(once each 6 weeks)

Progress reports, teacher reports

Parent feedback

9.  Students will be given a post-test using the STAR Reading Assessment before they are released from the Residential Treatment Facility, or at the end of the tutoring program.


1.  Christa Etheridge

2.  Austin Learning Center Tutors

May 15, 2013

STAR Reading Assessment, Computer, tutors

STAR Reading Assessment post test results

10. The data will be analyzed and a report will be created on the effectiveness of the tutoring program.




1.  Christa Etheridge



May 20, 2013 - June 2, 2013

STAR Reading Assessment Results

Comparing the actual data of the pre and post test assessments.  Was the tutoring program effective at increasing student reading levels?

11.  Results of the action research project will be reported to staff, teachers, and principal.

1.  Christa Etheridge


August 2013

STAR Reading Assessment Results

All stakeholders will be informed of results.
 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Week 2 Reflection

This week we continued our study of action research.  Through the Dana text, I learned about where a principal might find their "wonderings" and questions.  This helped me think about my own experiences, and how I could use action research on my campus now.  After reading numerous examples in the book, I was able to come up with three topics of critical importance to propose to my principal as possible action research questions.  I feel it was a valuable experience to go through each one and get my principal's view of each problem.  I feel a huge sense of relief knowing that my proposed action research project was accepted by my principal, as this was something that I have been struggling with choosing.  I chose to study the effectiveness of a new in school tutoring program for reading intervention.  I've already begun some background reading of relevant literature and am looking forward to moving to the next step of the process. 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Action Research - What I've Learned & How I'll Use It


I have learned that action research is an effective tool for improving teaching and learning.  School leaders can use action research to address learning issues while simultaneously motivating teachers to improve their teaching practice.  For educational leaders, the steps in action research are to identify a problem or “wondering” within the school, develop and implement an action research plan, collect and analyze data along with reading relevant literature, and then evaluate and share the results.  It’s a process that takes time to develop, implement, and complete, but it becomes a powerful vehicle for learning and school improvement.
I also learned that action research is different from the traditional educational research approach in that it is focused on the concerns of the practitioner and allows them to play an active role in the research by investigating their own problems.
Action research has numerous benefits for school leaders.  It can serve as a powerful tool for professional development; it forces principals out of isolation by allowing the opportunity to collaborate with others; it allows principals to become role models for teachers and students; and it helps best practices to flourish within a school. 
I plan to use action research now and in the future as an administrator to continuously improve my school, especially where student performance is concerned.  Currently there are two areas that I seek to improve at my school.  The first involves a schedule change to address the need of a new long term unit of students.  Last semester students were complaining that they did not feel they were getting an adequate education due to being in mixed grade level classes.  A new schedule was created this semester to address the concern and I would like to use action research to measure its effectiveness.  I also want to research the effectiveness of a newly implemented tutoring intervention program for reading improvement.  I wonder if the new in school tutoring intervention is effective at increasing student reading levels. 
Action research is an effective and powerful tool that I look forward to using now and in the future as an administrator. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

How Educational Leaders Might Use Blogs



A Blog can be an excellent tool for educational leaders.  It is a place where important school related information can be communicated and accessed at any time.  Important announcements such as a school closing due to bad weather can be posted immediately.  A blog can be used instead of a newsletter to keep parents informed of upcoming events and other school news. It can also be used to discuss various school related topics with colleagues, parents, and students, and provides a space for ongoing discussion and feedback.
Educational leaders can also use blogs as an outlet for sharing ideas and interacting with other school leaders and colleagues.  Advice and feedback can be easily shared, and ideas can be bounced around through ongoing discussion.