Denver Elementary School Makes Turnaround With Assessment Program

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) today announced that DataDirector, its flagship Riverside assessment product, played a role in the turnaround of the Sheridan Elementary School in Denver, Colo. Representatives from HMH joined U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education Deb Delisle at a recent press event, which effectively elevated Sheridan off the turnaround list of struggling schools.

Citing the importance of data-driven instruction as a necessary component of school transformation, Sheridan implemented DataDirector to monitor and inform student progress.

Following years of low test scores and poor performances as part of the Colorado Student Assessment Program, state officials placed Sheridan Elementary School on academic watch in 2003. Sweeping changes and reforms were enacted shortly thereafter, but test scores and student performance did not improve. In 2010, the school was identified as a turnaround school by the federal government, receiving a $2.3 million School Improvement Grant. To be eligible for these funds, though, the school had to undergo an array of further changes, which included hiring a new principal, replacing more than half the staff in the school’s two campuses, and adding instructional time to the school day.

When the turnaround plan was set into place, Sheridan began integrating Riverside’s DataDirector assessment program to enable educators to assess students’ progress and identify where adjustments continued to be required. In two years, reading scores increased from the 42nd percentile to the 55th; writing scores from the 37th percentile to the 50th; and math from the 27th percentile to the 48th. Educators in the school district attributed its data-driven instruction as a main contributor to its recent success.

“The data we received from student assessments was the cornerstone of this turnaround plan,” said Michael Clough, Superintendent, Sheridan School District. “Riverside’s team really empowered our teachers, while DataDirector created incredible efficiencies in instruction and helped educators assign students to the correct classes and interventions based on their individual progress.”

Sheridan’s students did so well on the latest round of testing that the school was able to leap two steps on the state’s accountability system, from “turnaround” to the second-highest on the list – “improvement.”

DataDirector offers reporting capabilities that enable districts to collect and store data from several sources including state, district, benchmark and classroom assessments, as well as relevant information from student information systems.