The Department of Teaching and Learning is a new division at Central Office. We are: Tony Gasper, Assistant Superintendent; Bridget Calabrese, Language Arts Coordinator; and Darlene Zawisza, Registrar/Secretary. We welcome you to browse and borrow from our library filled with resources to fit your needs.
The DTL maintains three separate on-line resources to support the work of teachers and administrators:
· The DTL Blog is a publication for sharing articles, web resources, and materials for professional development.
· The DTL Key Documents Folder is available on the web (no login necessary) contains a wide variety of district documents for data teams, curriculum, district-wide assessments, and other topics.
· The Curriculum Wiki is a password-protected location that hosts all of our curriculum and assessment documents.
As we meet with system-wide committees, visit your classrooms, and talk with your school administrators, we continue to learn more about the needs of Ansonia's teachers and how we can better serve them. Our goal is to share ideas and resources in a timely way that are directly connected to our District Improvement Plan and to make professional development something that happens on an ongoing basis - rather than just at planned intervals. As we hear questions and concerns from you, we will endeavor to provide supportive resources here. Please also visit District Data Team Resources.
DTL Update: March 2012
Providing teachers with useful tools in the collection and analysis of data:
It is one of the goals of the Department of Teaching and Learning (DTL) to facilitate teachers' work with data. Modern research on teaching instructs us to ensure that students are frequently assessed using common formative assessments. These assessments are given at the beginning, middle, and end of each month-long unit of study. Another important type of assessment are benchmarks. These are larger assessments that are given three times per year. These assessments have two purposes: to determine which students may need a tiered intervention to help them be successful; and to inform teachers about students' readiness to take state standardized tests.
All of this assessment results in a very large amount of data. In the past, teachers used spreadsheets and handwritten records to track all of this data. While this was put to good use by teachers, it was not optimal. Teachers often spent valuable data team time collecting and charting their data.
In an effort to alleviate some of this burden on teachers, the DTL introduced a new software application this year. Ansonia Assessment Analytics (AAA) is a small but powerful database program developed specifically for our needs. Completed on a very modest budget, AAA provides teachers with analysis of growth trends in their students' work as soon as the raw data is entered.
While the project has been generally met with very strong reviews from teachers and administrators, there have been some difficulties along the way. One of the original goals of the project was to provide teachers with access from home. Because of a variety of technical issues, this has not yet been realized. We are also actively working to include the Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA) in the AAA software. However, due to the complexity of the DRA, this has taken significantly longer than predicted.
Providing high-quality assessment tools through teacher input and feedback:
As mentioned in the article above, the DTL is dedicated to providing teachers with a large amount of timely and useful assessment tools. This year Bridget Calabrese (Language Arts Coordinator) and Michael Wilson (Mathematics and Science Coordinator) will each create more than 300 assessment documents. While this is a massive amount of work, it is necessary to fulfill the system-wide need for an interconnected system of data that is useful at the classroom, school, and district levels.
Rather than distributing hard copies of all of these documents, they are instead kept on a password protected wiki website. Through this resource, teachers are given the opportunity to review draft versions of all assessments and to provide their input. Bridget and Mike are using a “projects” section of the wiki to provide a very effective communication tool between teachers and DTL. This tool keeps communication streams out in the open and viewable to all staff. This has proven to be a more effective tool than e-mail conversations.
While there has been a large amount of communication on the wiki, the vast majority of this has been regarding our assessment tools. We hope that teachers will also use the wiki to post ideas and feedback about instructional practices in their classrooms.
Community-based Strategic Planning:
Community members from a wide cross-section of Ansonia came together to create a plan for the schools’ next three years of growth. On the panel were students, parents, teachers, community members, administrators, and members of the Board of Education, Board of Aldermen, and Board of Apportionment and Taxation.
As a result of input and collaboration from all participants, the three-year strategic plan represents a big-picture view of the community’s aspirations and support for its school system. While the plan does not cover every detail of operation of the school district, it does provide substantial guidance to the Board of Education and the District Data Team (DDT).
The DDT has already begun using the strategic plan as it works to revise the district improvement plan. The revised plan will come before the Ansonia Board of Education and then will be submitted to the Connecticut State Department of Education for their approval before being submitted to the State Board of Education for its approval. The district improvement plan in an important document that guides all of the system’s high-priority actions.