Alabama district boosts reading and math scores

Since implementing a professional coaching program that facilitated ongoing student assessment and the use of data to improve instruction, Marshall County Schools has increased proficiency on the Alabama Reading and Math tests in all grade levels.

Marshall County Schools administrators attribute the progress to an intensive district-wide initiative led by key faculty (including Margaret Mastin, Federal Programs Director and Sharon Lessley, Professional Development and Special Programs Supervisor), support staff, and the help of the STIAchievement Services team. The STI team is led by school improvement specialists who are veteran educators with extensive experience in education data analysis, instructional design, and the school improvement field.

STIAchievement Services offers schools and districts assistance in planning and executing instructional change to improve student achievement. The company provides customized programs of face-to-face and online professional development and coaching for educators, using best practices, research-based strategies, and data-driven decision-making to positively affect student outcomes.

Beginning in 2008, Marshall County Schools contracted with STI to provide professional coaching services for two years. Over the two-year period, Asbury High School, which was in School Improvement Year 1, and then Year 2 Delay, increased its graduation rate from 53 to 77 percent from 2008. Another school, Brindlee Mountain High School, increased its graduation rate by 10 percent in one year of deployment. These individual school achievements led to both schools being removed from the Alabama State Department of Education School Improvement list in 2010.

In addition to increasing its graduation rates, the district has had success with common pacing and developing formative assessments throughout its schools, increasing reading and math test scores in all grade levels. The district's reading and math annual measurable objectives improved significantly from 2009 to 2010. The most notable achievements were made in math with increases of 9 percent in grade 4, 6 percent in grade 8, and 4 percent in grade 7. Grade 4 and grade 7 also made gains in their reading test scores with a 4 percent increase over the 2009-2010 school year.

"We strongly believe that increases in graduation rates and Alabama Reading and Math Test scores are due to the dedication of teachers and administrators, and to our partnership with STIAchievement Services. All system stakeholders have a deeper knowledge of data analysis, pacing, and the use of individualized instructional strategies," said Lessley and Mastin.