An upcoming training explores ways you can shift your school’s or district’s instructional program to make sustainable improvements that can help close achievement gaps.Dec 04, 2019
An upcoming training explores ways you can shift your school or district’s instructional program to make sustainable improvements that can help close achievement gaps.
Dr. Donyall Dickey starts his trainings for educators and administrators with an open dialogue surrounding achievement gaps and what teachers believe are the most significant obstacles to closing those gaps. He then uses the conversation as a launchpad for introducing a finite set of curriculum across universal instructional practices.
The universal practices are designed to close what Dr. Dickey defines as two types of achievement gaps: race-based and service-based. Service groups, he says, include students who qualify for free and reduced meals or for special education services, and students who speak English as a second language.
“Many factors are outside of educators’ control on student outcomes,” Dr. Dickey says. “But the facets of student achievement that we can manage, we must manage well, and we must manage in a way that is calibrated and strategic.”
Consistency is required for that calibration and can be achieved with a holistic approach. “Every member of our students’ instructional ecosystem has a responsibility,” Dr. Dickey says. Any engagement in instruction should support previous teachings, whether from a previous lesson, course, or year.
Dr. Dickey will lead a day of learning through the Arizona K12 Center in March to introduce educators to the practices he’s helping schools and districts implement. Here’s a snapshot of four key universal and sustainable practices Dr. Dickey says can help all students on the path to learning and achievement.
1. Performance-based objectives
Performance-based objectives should be consistent with knowledge of the content and higher-order thinking. “It's not just enough to download content to our students,” Dr. Dickey explains. “We have to give them the opportunity to use that content to ascend cognitively.”
If students are taught information about plant and animal cells, for example, they must also be given the chance to do something more complicated with that information.
The cornerstone of conceptual understanding, Dr. Dickey says, is being able to express meaning or to demonstrate what you’ve learned. “I will spend time working with members of the audience on what it means to strategically develop students’ academic vocabulary — words that cross grade levels and disciplines, but also a second set of words, words that live inside of a particular discipline,” he explains.
3. The gradual release of responsibility
Students should be on a journey to independent thinking, problem-solving, and exploration, Dr. Dickey says. “Gradual release of responsibility is a widely accepted model for ensuring that children are gradually released from teacher dependence,” he adds.
4. Writing and math skills
Students should be given opportunities to write that are consistent with post-secondary readiness, Dr. Dickey says, and given ample opportunity to make sense of mathematical concepts.
Learn to close achievement gaps
Click here to learn more and register for Transforming Student Achievement with Dr. Donyall Dickey, a one-day learning event in Phoenix on March 5. Register by December 13 for early bird pricing.