Based on the data and identified student needs, EPHS designed and implemented a literacy program to increase student literacy skills and build capacity in teachers and enhance their instructional skills. The program was designed in alignment with an EPHS School Improvement Plan (SIP) SMART goal, to increase student literacy through a school-wide focus on literacy and implementation of comprehensive reading and writing strategies.
EPHS provided faculty with systemic professional learning on literacy strategies (reciprocal teaching, collaborative reasoning, PALS (Peer-Assisted Learning Strategy), Socratic seminars, Fish Bowl, magnetic summarization, CSET (Claim, Set-up, Evidence, and Tie-In), etc. A school-wide team of teacher leaders and administrators designed and led the literacy plan implementation. The literacy team (LT) met regularly, designed and adjusted the plan based on the school’s formative data, and offered coaching support to teachers. The teacher leaders modeled literacy strategies in classrooms and provided valuable training to teachers. The LT designed an adaptive version of the CSET strategy that included reading, which was named the RECSET (Read, Extract, Claim, Set-up, Evidence, and Tie-In) model. The LT trained teachers and designed elements of differentiation based on departmental needs.
The SIP called for the enhancement of PLCs, therefore, PLC leads were key factors in implementation of the literacy program. PLC leads were trained on the literacy strategies and led PLC meetings that accumulated and analyzed student work and provided constructive and descriptive feedback to school leadership regarding the literacy plan implementation. PLC leads provided leadership and guidance as teachers implemented RECSET. Teachers practiced the strategy, submitted reflections, brought student samples to PLC sessions, and discussed RECSET implementation. Data Team protocols were used for student work analysis. Teachers submitted work samples and reflections in a specially designed Canvas course. Teachers observed peers and provided descriptive feedback regarding literacy strategies. Peer observations enhanced the collaborative culture at EPHS and created a safe atmosphere of teacher dialogue, reflection, and professional growth.
The success of the EPHS literacy plan was evident. The percentage of students scoring above Lexile midpoint on the Ninth-grade Georgia Milestone assessment increased from 55.81% (10.18% below the state) in 2017-2018 to 68.71% (2.5% above the state) in 2018-2019. The percentage of students scoring above Lexile midpoint on the American Literature Georgia Milestone assessment increased from 58.20% (0.61% above the state) in 2017-2018 to 69.21% (8.22% above the state) in 2018-2019.