Standardized testing in schools is widely viewed as an evaluation tool for teacher competence or student ability. The Beaver Dam Elementary School Community uses their test results to modify and drive instruction in order to assist students in mastering skills. The data gleaned from test results is studied and applied to improve instruction. It is not used to demean educators or students but to assist them in improving their educational program. The staff understands that each group of students has unique needs so the test data is the basis for addressing what educational tools will be helpful in the classroom.
When math scores indicated that instruction could be improved, the Eagle Teachers worked like beavers to find ways to help students comprehend mathematical concepts, to go beyond simple arithmetic to understanding the processes behind the problems. Leading the charge was math interventionist, Mr. David Patterson. He came to Beaver with many years experience of successful math instruction while teaching in Nevada and other districts in Arizona. He introduced the concept of “Beyond Textbooks” to the Beaver Dam staff. This program originated in the Vail School District in Arizona. It is a source of educational resources designed to implement the mandated standards-based curriculum. The success of this program’s implementation at Vail has lead to that district receiving an “A” school label from the state.
Beyond textbooks is a technological tool which provides supplemental lessons for teachers which go beyond a textbook. Within the program are a series of lesson plans that provide for initial, advanced, and supplemental instruction. Beaver Dam teachers introduce a concept, determine student mastery of it and then break students into smaller groups to provide additional instruction based upon individual student needs. The Beyond Textbook site is ongoing and any educator can add resources, lessons plans or ideas to the site. With the focus on math this school year, student scores are soaring. Best of all, students are engaged in math and understanding problem solving.
Another technological tool being incorporated by the staff is “Math Facts in a Flash”. This is a highly motivational computer program in which basic math skills are assessed. Each level builds upon the last, sequencing from kindergarten to sixth grade math skills. Mr. Patterson has offered the students a personal challenge to master the skills of their grade level. Data on each student measures their progress, which students closely monitor with enthusiasm. Students who have successfully mastered these basic arithmetic skills will be presented with a can of “Silly String” at the end of the year and will be encouraged to “mummify” Mr. Patterson! As a student masters the skills, his or her name is put on a can of Silly String and displayed in the office. The Beaver Dam Eagles always like to combine a little play and good humor within instruction!
This year’s test scores will be used to evaluate the success of the new program and guide instructional goals for the coming school year. Under the leadership of top eagle, Mrs. Phyllis Leavitt, testing is used to improve instruction and assist teachers. The common goal is to incorporate a curriculum that meets the needs of the beloved Eaglets who flock to the Beaver Dam nest!