Saturday, February 16, 2013

Reflections - EDLD 5301

EDLD 5301 has expanded my knowledge on all aspects of action research.  It has given me the tools needed for continual school improvement while developing the leadership skills essential to creating a positive change.  Prior to starting this class, I was somewhat nervous about taking a class called Research.  Although I have always enjoyed reading research based literature, the thought of having to do a research project followed by writing a research paper was somewhat daunting.   My prior experiences led me to believe that I would be doing the type of research that requires extensive statistical analysis, experimental designs, a control group, and all the other things that you think of when you hear the word research.  To my relief, I learned that administrative inquiry focuses on the concerns of the practitioner, allowing them to provide insight into their own practice in an effort to make changes leading to improvements. 

What I appreciate most about this course is that it offers various avenues for learning in order to develop a deeper understanding of administrative inquiry.  The videotaped lectures provided valuable insights, and I especially enjoyed the week 2 interviews of the scholars.  I learned different ways that educational leaders are using action research to improve their schools and districts.  One thing that stands out in my mind is a piece of advice given by Dr. Chargois.  He said that you should never stop learning.  As a leader, this is advice that I will continue to live by, and hope to instill in those that I lead.  I appreciated the opportunity to learn from the respected educational leaders.  I was able to reflect on the advice that was given and apply it to what I am doing now as a leader.

The weekly web conferences were extremely beneficial.  This gave me the opportunity to interact with the professor and others in the class.  Being able to ask questions and get immediate feedback was extremely helpful in completing the weekly assignments.  Similarly, the blogs, discussion boards, and Facebook page were all valuable resources in developing a greater understanding of the inquiry process.  By commenting on each other’s posts, we were able to offer new perspectives, and pose questions and recommendations that led to deeper thinking.  The feedback that I received was instrumental in helping me to develop my action research plan.  Some of the comments led to revisions of my plan, and others gave me new wonderings.  Overall, the interaction and feedback from others was a critical piece in developing a solid action research plan.  

The assignments where I met with my site supervisor were extremely beneficial.  Being able to get her input and expertise in choosing my action research plan was very helpful.  She fully supported the action research plan and offered valuable advice such as the need to make sure that the assessment instrument I used to determine the students’ reading levels was research based, valid, and reliable.  The second meeting to finalize my proposed plan went very well.  My site supervisor asked questions about my process that led me to realize that I had left out two critical steps.  Her insights and recommendations for revisions were helpful in creating the final action research plan. 

The assigned readings from both textbooks in the course were also beneficial.  I learned various ways to continuously examine school improvement, and have developed a deeper understanding of conducting administrative inquiry.  I especially found the readings about the nine areas where many school leaders find their wonderings to be useful in examining areas for improvement on my own campus.  Of the nine areas, the one that stood out to me the most was the area of staff development.  I learned that this is an important area of action research because it is essential for teacher, student, and school improvement.  It enriches learning and improves the learning of students (Dana, 2009, p. 32-34).  Since principals play a critical role in developing a meaningful staff development program, I can definitely see myself using inquiry in this area in the future.

As I near the completion of this course, I feel completely prepared to implement an action research project on my campus.  The tools that I learned in this course are invaluable for continually improving student, teacher, and school performance.  I am confident that I have the skills and knowledge to continue the process of inquiry throughout my administrative career. 

Friday, February 8, 2013

CARE Model: Planning Tool

Please comment with any suggestions for improvement.  Thank you.

Examining What We Do to Improve Our Schools Sandra Harris, Stacey Edmonson, Julie Combs

Tool 8.1 CARE Model: Planning Tool

Identify Concerns that must change (look to the future)
(Assign points to concerns from 1 to 3 in the order of the most important issues to consider.)
1. Large number of high school students reading significantly below grade level.
2. Low achievement in all classes of students reading below grade level.
3. High dropout rate, especially of students at risk for failing. 

Identify Affirmations that must be sustained (look to the present)
(Assign points to affirmations from 1 to 3 in the order of the most important issues to consider.)
1.  Availability of title one funds with a portion allocated towards reading intervention.
2.  Research based reading assessments administered to all newly enrolled students in order to assess reading skills and needs.
3.  Support and commitment from all stakeholders (teachers, parents, county staff, and administrator) to continuously monitor school improvement.

SMART Recommendations that must be implemented:
(Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely)
(Assign points to recommendations from 1 to 3 in the order of the most important recommendations to implement.)
1.  Implement a tutoring program for students reading significantly below grade level using title one funds.
2.  Identify at risk students using research based assessments, and develop a tutoring plan based on individual needs.
3.  Monitor student progress and communicate results with parents, students, county staff, and administrators.

EVALUATE – Specifically and Often
(Identify the best ways to evaluate the implemented recommendations.)
1.  Group discussion, surveys, student reading assessments, teacher observations
2.  Teacher observations, STAR Reading Assessment, group discussions
3.  Teacher observations, STAR Reading Assessment, Student grades, parent feedback

Action Planning Template Revision

The meeting with my site supervisor went extremely well.  She was very pleased with the plan, and said that she thought it was an important research project to conduct and looked forward to the results.   

She did have two questions that led to some minor revisions.  First, she asked if I received permission to implement the tutoring from the Travis County facility supervisors.  I explained that I met with them and made sure that they reviewed and accepted the proposal before implementation.  Another question that she asked was about parent communication.  She wanted to know if I planned to share the progress of the students with parents.  Since my students are living in a residential treatment facility, parents will have to be given updates by phone or written communication.  I decided to include updates through progress reports that are already sent home every six weeks.   

My site supervisor suggested that I include both of the steps suggested into the plan.  I revised the original planning template to include the collaboration with Travis County supervisors step and the parent communication step as well.  I agree that they are both critical steps of the research project and should be included in my plan.

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

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


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


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


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


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.