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Saint Paul Public Schools

PK-3 Literacy Project -- PHASE II


December 2014
INTRODUCTION
After eight years of successful collaborating with The McKnight Foundation on Project Early
Kindergarten, in 2012 Saint Paul Public Schools (SPPS) requested and received a $2,982,717 McKnight
Education and Learning grant for a three-year Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 3 (PK-3) Literacy Project.
The PK-3 Literacy Project builds on previous work and focuses on aligned literacy instruction,
professional development, data collection and analysis, and family and community supports in two
Pathway Schools: Saint Paul Music Academy and Paul and Sheila Wellstone Elementary.
Saint Paul Music Academy (SPMA) has enrolled 610 PreK-5 students for 2014-15, including 435 in PreK3rd grade. Most students (92%) are eligible for free/reduced-price lunch. Fifty-six percent (56%) are
English Language Learners, 49% are Asian American, 27% are African-American, 13% are Hispanic, 10%
are Caucasian and 1% are American Indian. SPMA combines rigorous academics with vocal and
instrumental music education to build family and community partnerships. Music provides a
foundational language for students from diverse cultures and backgrounds, including a large
immigrant and refugee population.
Paul and Sheila Wellstone Elementary serves 690 students in grades PreK-5, including 360 PreK-3rd
grade students. The majority of students (94%) are eligible for free/reduced price lunch. Sixty-eight
percent (68%) are English Language Learners, 51% are Hispanic, 27% are African-American, seventeen
17% are Asian American, 4% are Caucasian and 1% are American Indian. Wellstone is a dual-immersion
school where students learn to read, write, speak and listen in both Spanish and English. Wellstone also
offers English-only instruction. Students learn to think critically and lead and engage in discussion
around content themes and social issues.
Phase 1 of the SPPS PK-3 Literacy Project at SPMA and Wellstone has extended success of Project Early
Kindergarten through the primary grades. This includes a focus on aligned, high quality literacy
instruction supported by comprehensive professional development and individualized coaching. The PK3 Literacy Project has also increased teacher awareness, capacity, and interest regarding data-driven
instruction, preparing both Pathway Schools to utilize the STEP assessment beginning in 2014-15. We
have recruited, retained, and developed human capital at all levels through professional development
and empowered teachers as leaders through the Leadership Team process. Expanded full-day PreK
programs at both schools and progressive alignment from PreK to K to grades 1-3 have increased
alignment of literacy practices throughout the buildings. With a solid foundation of our Mondo
Bookshop reading curriculum, data-driven instruction, and the fall 2014 STEP assessment and student
benchmarks, our teachers, administrators, and district-level staff are motivated to dig deeper into how
the STEP assessment and data management tools will support literacy instruction.
We request $2.4 million to support the PK-3 Literacy Project in Phase II.
The central element of Phase II of the PK-3 Literacy Project is implementing the STEP assessment and
Data Management System for reading instruction for all PreK-3 classrooms at both schools. STEP
(Strategic Teaching and Evaluation of Progress), developed by the University of Chicago Urban Education
Institute (UEI), is a developmental approach to reading instruction and assessment for grades PreK-3.
Teachers use assessment data to target instruction based on what happens cognitively as a student
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learns to master specific, research-based skills at each stage of reading. Through the STEP Data
Management System, SPPS teachers and administrators have online access to student performance data
at district, school, grade, classroom, and individual levels.
Phase II Priorities:
--Implement STEP assessment for PreK-3 in all classrooms professional development and coaching will
focus on doing this well and comprehensively, and leadership priorities will include integrating STEP with
other building and district efforts.
--Continue to empower teachers as leaders and developers of professional development content to
support grade level teams vertical alignment.
--Support and systematize family and community involvement through activities such as evening family
activities and Take Your Parent to School Day, childcare, and extended day collaboration.
795 students in grades PreK-3rd will be impacted by the PK-3 Literacy Project in Phase II.
TARGETS FOR LITERACY GROWTH
Our goal for student literacy growth, based on UEI advice, the STEP model, and fall 2014 STEP
assessments, is that all students (100%) achieve three steps by the end of each school year--one step
between fall and winter benchmark testing, and the other two steps between winter and the end of the
school year. Students who are significantly below grade level will achieve greater than three steps.
Students who are already achieving the benchmark target may have lower growth. For second grade
dual immersion at Wellstone, the target is 100% of students will advance four steps in their native
language and three steps in English.
We will reach those targets by building on progress made in each of the areas below.
PROFESSIONAL CAPACITY AND HUMAN CAPITAL MANAGEMENT
Both Pathways Schools have retained quality key staff over the life of the initiative, with minimal
turnover. Several key strategies have supported staff knowledge and skill development:
School Leadership Teams: Leadership Teams include representatives from all departments in the
school and meet regularly (monthly at SPMA, bi-weekly at Wellstone). Leadership Teams have
developed a system to collect data and drive the professional development content. Based on
Leadership Team work, building coaches have calibrated key instructional practices and use the
data to implement coaching and professional development. Leadership Teams have ongoing
racial equity conversations, which help frame the why for changing instructional practices.
Teacher leaders have shared literacy content to upper grades (vertical sharing) at staff
development meetings and parallel professional development sessions.
Content-area professional development: During Phase I, the program manager worked with UEI
consultants to design data-driven annual professional development, provided progressively to
PreK and K teachers in year one, PreK-1st grade teachers in year two, and in 2014-15 (year 3) for
PreK-3rd grade focused on STEP assessment and data-driven instruction. The program managers
involvement in creating the professional development plan has been particularly necessary
because UEI expertise centers on STEP and until this year SPPS has used other tools. Teachers
receive professional development through external coaches throughout the year and through
internal coaches during weekly professional development. Grade level leads receive extended
literacy professional development across Pathway Schools that they bring to their teammates
during Professional Learning Communities. Teaching assistants have participated in training as

instructional partners and provide strong instructional support. Professional development


content focuses on vertical and horizontal alignment of:
o Common Core State Standards
o Instructional strategies
o Oral language and literacy development
o Assessment and usage of data
o Classroom climate and student engagement, including cultural/racial diversity training
o Collaboration within and across grade levels, with families, and with community
partners
Professional Learning Communities: SPPS uses the Professional Learning Communities (PLC)
model districtwide as a promising strategy for helping students learn at high levels. Based on
work by Richard Dufour, PLC program evaluations indicate that it can lead to improvements in
student achievement (Renfro 2007, Louis and Marks, 1998, Hord, 2004). In SPPS, PLCs are
typically small teams (4-6 people) organized by grade level, department, course, content, or
organizational teams that examine work generated from a common formative assessment,
which drives instruction, improves professional practice and increases student learning. They
are organized around the principles of collaborative inquiry, student-learning focus, and being
results oriented. Both SPMA and Wellstone have PLCs embedded into the school day for gradelevel teams. PLCs include classroom instructional staff, special education, and ELL teachers at
each school who meet weekly to analyze student data and plan for instruction with emphasis on
ALL students learning at high levels. Weekly meetings include a strong professional development
component supported by internal and external coaches and driven by STEP data.
Cohort opportunities: Parent resource staff, coaches, and principal cohorts working on PreK-3
literacy projects across the district convene monthly to receive professional development,
ensure alignment of efforts and share lessons learned. Professional development topics include
early literacy, social-emotional development, family engagement, community outreach, and
coaching skills and methodology, depending on the needs of the group. The work of these
cohorts informs district-wide PreK-3 programming decisions.
Coaching: Each school has a 1.0FTE literacy content coach for grades PreK-3. In addition to
shaping and delivering literacy professional development to PLCs, coaches provide jobembedded individual support for teachers, including training and assistance in data-driven
assessment, modeling instruction, observation, debrief, and other targeted skills-building. All
PreK-3 coaches have received Foundations of Cognitive Coaching training.
Walk-throughs: Walk-throughs are classroom observations, conducted throughout the year.
Principals use walk-throughs to monitor key instructional practices. Leadership Teams analyze
trends to further professional development in areas of need.
School Continuous Improvement Plan: Each school in SPPS completes and operates under a
School Continuous Improvement Plan, a working document that guides data-driven decisionmaking and strategic planning. School staff, principals, teachers, parents, and community
members provide input for each School Continuous Improvement Plan. Components include:
overview, data, analysis, goals, strategies, Strong Schools Strong Communities 2.0 (aligning with
strategic plan), Title I, family engagement, assurances and signatures. Each schools Leadership
Team has participated in School Continuous Improvement Plan development, which has helped
connect literacy professional development to larger school strategies and goals.

Both SPMA and Wellstone have strong staff retention. During Phase I there have been a few grade-level
reassignments for budget reasons, resulting in the need for more coaching. Some strategic

reassignments have been made due to teachers varying abilities to connect with students at different
age levels. There have been very few staff non-renewals.
The PreK-3rd grade literacy coach positions are created and funded through McKnight support. Lori
Erickson, who supports SPMA, has extensive administrative and literacy experience as well as primary
teaching experience in the district. Gloria Rosso-White was recruited for her specialty in dual-immersion
programming, Kindergarten teaching experience, and educational background in multi-lingual learning.
She supports both English and Spanish immersion classrooms at Wellstone.
Professional Capacity/Human Capital District Goals for Phase II:
Increase teacher leader capacity to develop key instructional practices, professional
development, and racial equity work.
Create shared responsibility for co-designing professional development between district staff
and consultants.
Systematize monitoring of progress toward School Continuous Improvement Plan.
LEADERSHIP
High levels of skill, commitment, and training characterize each schools instructional staff. Principals
Barbara Evangelist and Angelica Van Iperen, respectively of SPMA and Wellstone, have enthusiastically
guided the PK-3 Literacy Project during Phase I and have strategic vision for Phase II. All PK-3 staff sign
an Election to Work Agreement to demonstrate commitment to the project. The project is directed by a
program manager (1.0 FTE), who reports to the supervisor of the Office of Early Learning (OEL), who in
turn reports directly to the districts Chief Academic Officer.
Training and communication structures, including UEI training, administrative leadership meetings
(principals/assistant superintendent), school based leadership meetings, and district department lead
meetings are planned for a year at a time, with meetings added when needed. The program manager,
principals at each school, and coaches provide broad oversight for this project.
Each school has a Leadership Team that includes classroom teachers, specialists, support staff and
administration. The SPMA Leadership Team has 11 members and meets monthly; Wellstone has 9
members and meets semi-monthly. The Leadership Teams role is to identify key instructional practices,
develop professional development content and deliver it at staff meetings and in PLCs, analyze student
assessment data and adjust professional development accordingly, and coordinate professional
development with each sites School Continuous Improvement Plan, PLC work, and racial equity goals.
PK-3 Literacy Project work so far has focused on building coaching capacity and developing/improving
processes to drive instructional improvement, and the teacher leaders on the Leadership Teams are just
beginning to take responsibility for content regarding key instructional practices. The work of
monitoring alignment with larger school and district strategies and vision has been largely completed by
coaches and administrators; in Phase II we want to build Leadership Team capacity to understand and
align literacy efforts systemically.
In 2012 St. Paul residents passed a referendum for SPPS dedicating significant funds, over eight years, to
Personalized Learning, which uses technology to enhance instruction so that all students are engaged in
learning in the classroom and beyond. Instruction is tailored to each students needs through
adjustments to pacing and learning approaches, and through leveraging student interests and
experiences. The Universal Design for Learning (UDL) educational philosophy shapes the Personalized
Learning approach. Based on extensive research from multiple fields, UDL calls for standards-based
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instruction that allows multiple ways for students to explore, express, and share their learning. The SPPS
Personalized Learning strategy includes iPads for all students, rolled out over two years. SPMA and
Wellstone students will receive iPads in the second year (2015-16). The PK-3 Literacy Project brings
Personalized Learning principles into literacy and language acquisition. The STEP data management
system and UEIs support with data-driven practices based on specific student needs will greatly
support our efforts to individualize student instruction.
The PK-3 Literacy Project has also informed district strategies regarding racial equity. STEP assessment
data allows schools to examine trends through a racial equity lens.
District administrators, Pathway Schools administrators, and the program manager are taking what we
are learning through the PK-3 Literacy Project and evaluating the possibility of implementing the core
elements, including the STEP assessment, at a broader level within the District.
The principals at each school are fully engaged in the PK-3 Literacy Project and are empowered to drive
the work by adapting curriculum, pacing and tailoring district-designed professional development to fit
building needs (helping teachers make sense of decontextualized trainings), and differentiating district
professional development and initiatives based on site/teacher needs. Integrating the literacy work with
each sites School Continuous Improvement Plan is an important part of ensuring program coherence.
The principals are supported by a shared district vertical team which is led by the Assistant
Superintendent and includes district department leaders who offer support with instructional practices,
data analysis and behavior management. The Assistant Superintendent meets with each building
principal regularly to help identify building strengths and areas of improvement as well as maintain
district focus and program coherence.
In addition, the Assistant Superintendent and Chief Academic Officer will meet quarterly to review and
evaluate all new district initiatives to minimize disruption at each Pathway School. Any change in
initiatives will be reported to McKnight in the annual summary report.
Leadership District Goals for Phase II:
Expand Leadership Team responsibilities to include aligning PLCs, professional development,
coaching, School Continuous Improvement Plan.
Share professional development among Leadership Team, specialists, community partners.
DATA MANAGEMENT AND DIAGNOSTICS
For the past three years, SPPS has administered the University of Chicago Consortium on School
Research 5 Essentials (5E) assessment to evaluate school success based on five research-based
components: Effective Leaders, Collaborative Teachers, Involved Families, Supportive Environment, and
Ambitious Instruction. Students in grades 6-12 and teachers complete 5E surveys annually, usually in
second semester. A final report combines survey data to categorize the skills in each essential (and
content levels within the essential) as either very weak, weak, neutral, strong, or very strong. Data from
5E assessment informs each School Continuous Improvement Plan.
For SPMA and Wellstone, data from the 5E assessment:
--Is analyzed by coach/administrator team and used to drive the work of racial equity, School
Continuous Improvement Plan, PLCs, professional development, and coaching.

--Has resulted in shared professional development across schools based on common needs: math
professional development with SPMA, Daytons Bluff Elementary, and John A. Johnson High School staff,
and shared literacy professional development for SPMA/Wellstone in January 2015.
In the first two years of the PK-3 Literacy Project, we worked to connect MCA-III and Mondo literacy
assessment results for students in grade 3. Data from these assessments has driven PLC work. Beginning
in the fall of 2014, the STEP assessment and data management system will replace our existing literacy
assessments (with the exception of the Mondo Bookshop Oral Language assessment), and DataZone for
data-management in PreK-3 at SPMA and Wellstone. We have identified in our initial STEP benchmark
assessment that the Mondo assessment does not match the rigor required in the STEP assessment and
anticipate a closer correlation between STEP and the MCA-III.
2014-15 is the first year of using STEP in all classrooms in both schools, including the dual immersion
classrooms. This is a huge step toward alignment across grade levels and for English Language Learners.
Our process for using data to guide instructional practices will follow the STEP model and be supported
by coaches and guided by UEI consultants.
During 2014-15 and continuing into Phase II we will focus on understanding how to not only administer
STEP assessment but also how to use the data from the assessment to drive instruction. Key to this will
be equipping teachers to move from the data, i.e. my student is at this level and needs help with this
skill, to practice, i.e. I need these specific resources in my classroom to move this student to the next
step. Coaches will support this process through STEP training, observation of assessment, fidelity checks,
student folder review, instructional modeling, and professional development.
Data Management District Goals for Phase II:
Involve entire Leadership Team and teacher leaders on the analysis of the 5E data.
Understand the STEP Data Management System tools and use data analysis to make better
instructional decisions.
EFFECTIVE INSTRUCTION FOR DLLS
SPMA and Wellstone have different specific approaches to instruction for dual language learners that
align with a broader district strategy and, beginning in 2014-15, use the same assessment (STEP).
The SPPS Office of Multilingual Learning oversees English language development instruction to
qualifying SPPS students in a multi-tiered manner. ELL teachers, classroom or content teachers and
specialists, bilingual educational assistants, and others share responsibility for the instruction of English
Language Learners (ELLs) in classrooms and schools. Our instructional model focuses on academic
language development within content areas. SPPS ELL programs are shaped by the World-class
Instructional Design and Assessment (WIDA) consortium for language-learners and Common Core
language standards. Our programs engage students in well-supported and significant activities
pertaining to the content standards. The language objectives and aligned activities are written by the
ELL teachers and are designed to include strategies to assist students in increasing control over their
language production, and increasing the length and complexity of discourse. Attending to Tier 2 words
and verbs in literacy instruction, is expected of all teachers.
At SPMA, more than 61% of students speak a language other than English at home. As an SPPS Language
Academy, SPMA serves newcomer students with language proficiencies ranging from no English, to
having some high frequency words and phrases, to being able to communicate some basic needs. Each
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SPMA classroom includes both English language learners and native English speakers. ELL students work
on the same academic material as their classmates, with adaptations and scaffolding support from ELL
and mainstream teachers as well as bilingual educational assistants. ELL and mainstream teachers
integrate language development across all subject areas. This intensely collaborative program helps
students rapidly develop English language skills that will prepare them to succeed academically. All
teachers from Pre-K through fifth grade are trained in language intervention for rapid language
acquisition. Because of the importance for ELL students to be in the general education classroom and
experience grade-level content, SPMA uses the English Now! curriculum and inclusion approach. English
Now! is an intervention program for students scoring in the Level 1 range of language acquisition.
English Now! gives students intense instruction in research-based language production strategies during
a small part of the day.
Wellstone offers two-way dual-immersion Spanish in which students learn to read, write, speak and
listen in both Spanish and English. This includes two PreK dual-immersion classrooms. Wellstone dualimmersion classrooms serve both language minority and language majority students in the same
classroom and use each groups first language for academic instruction at certain points during the
program. Starting with 90% of the day in Spanish, the program gradually introduces English, building on
the Spanish literacy skills, and achieves 50% in each language by 3rd grade. ELL students in dualimmersion classrooms still have access to ELL services. We aim for all students to become bilingual,
biliterate, and culturally proficient in both the majority and partner cultures. The cognitive, academic,
and linguistic benefits of these programs fully appear after 5th or 6th grade. The Wellstone Spanish
dual-immersion classrooms align with upper grade programs in Highland Park Middle School and
Highland Park Senior High. Some Wellstone families with English Language Learners opt to place their
children in traditional classrooms where they receive ELL services using the Imagine Learning
curriculum. This supplemental curriculum is based on Common Core standards, and students with WAPT
ACCESS levels 1-3 are currently using this 30 minutes a day to increase the complexity of their speech
production, academic vocabulary, and reading comprehension. This will accelerate the acquisition of
English speaking and reading skills for EL students as well as focus on essential literacy areas, with an
emphasis on comprehension. Sixty-eight percent (68%) of Wellstone students are ELL/newcomer.
It has been a challenge at Wellstone that the Pearson Spanish curriculum does not align with
Mondo/Common Core, and that dual-immersion and traditional classrooms have not had the same
assessment. STEP will provide that common ground. The STEP assessment is provided in Spanish for the
dual-immersion classrooms in PreK-1; in 2nd and 3rd grade it will be both Spanish and English.
At both schools, bilingual educational assistants preview and/or review skills and concepts in the childs
home language as needed. These professionals also provide support and outreach to families. SPPS
offers district-wide, language-specific parent advisory groups; parents from both schools participate in
these groups.
We continue to work to build staff proficiency regarding language production strategies and sheltered
language techniques. ELL staff are beginning to share at staff development and PLCs. Administrators and
coaches who are language acquisition experts provide professional development. At both SPMA and
Wellstone, the ELL team includes diverse racial and ethnic representation as well as multi-lingual
speakers (100% multi-lingual at Wellstone). These subject experts, along with each schools equity team,
are working to expand the conversation regarding language-learners to shift from a deficit mindset
(language-learners have hurdles to overcome, lack language ability, etc) to an abundance approach
(multi-lingual learners as something to celebrate).
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Ongoing analysis of student progress and adaptation to instruction based on student data is built in to
the STEP process, for all students, including ELL students. Corrective and supportive strategies to
accelerate student progress include:
Deep STEP analysis at the student level to target training and support for teachers to address
specific gaps for that student.
Model lessons that integrate language production strategies in the guided reading and literacy
instruction.
Coaches and principals observe and debrief with teachers.
Teachers set individual goals.
ELL teachers and alignment coach provide professional development on how to implement
language production strategies in content area lessons.
Include language strategies in school professional development plan and instructional
framework.
District Goals for Phase II:
Continue to increase understanding of language acquisition and capacity of teachers as experts
in this area. Incorporate oral language assessment data into instructional practice.
Increase language production strategies as a part of key instructional practices. In particular,
continued focus on developing academic oral language and elevating complex structures of
language use.
Support the equity of multi-lingual learners by shifting beliefs from language learning being a
deficit to being an asset.
IMPROVED USE AND EXTENSION OF INSTRUCTIONAL TIME
McKnight support has enabled us to extend PreK instruction from three half-day, M-F classes (one at
SPMA and two at Wellstone) to five full-day, M-F, PreK classes (two at SPMA and three at Wellstone).
During Phase I, Wellstone expanded PreK programming and family outreach through an evening
program called Gearing Up for K. Gearing Up for K is based on the Early Childhood Family Education
(ECFE) model which engages children and their parents in preparing for kindergarten. In addition, weve
also offered a 3-week summer program. Families from the Pathway Schools attendance area with
children on the PreK waitlist, are recruited for these programs. They provide children with a condensed
version of the Discovering our World curriculum (used in PreK) with a focus on supporting literacy and
prepare parents for the transition to Kindergarten.
Through the SPPS Extended Day for Learning (EDL) program, both SPMA and Wellstone offer
instructional support after school and summer, including additional learning time in math, reading, and
other subjects, certified teachers in every classroom, transportation, and snack. Student participation is
voluntary. Student qualifications include a need for math and reading instruction and applied academic
(enrichment) experiences beyond the school day. Certified teachers teach all academic classes;
paraprofessionals or community specialists may staff the enrichment classes.
SPMA EDL after-school programs serve approximately 200 students in grades 2-5. The onsite partnership
with the East Side Learning Center provides tutors for these grades. EDL staff teach in their home
building, allowing them to have ongoing informal conversations with homeroom teachers. We will
continue to build an information pipeline and create a consistent communication venue for data sharing
between school day teachers and EDL staff.
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At Wellstone we are just beginning to explore how to align the opportunities in the after-school
program. The new EDL program coordinator is one of the dual-immersion 3rd grade teachers involved in
the PK-3 Literacy Project. 100 students participated in Wellstone EDL programming in 2013-14,
including 60 in 1st-3rd grade.
At both sites, aligning EDL instruction with the PK-3 Literacy Project goals requires that EDL teachers
know each students STEP bottom line.
District Goals for Phase II:
Create a consistent structure for communication of instructional practices and individual
student goals between teachers, specialists, extended day teachers, and family members.
Use STEP data to create materials and opportunities to extend student learning with
paraprofessionals, specialists, extended day programs, and family members.
ALIGNED PATHWAYS, PIPELINES, AND PROGRAMS
On March 18, 2014 the SPPS Board of Education approved a five-year strategic plan that includes three
goals of alignment, achievement, and sustainability. The PK-3 Literacy Project supports those goals in
several ways. As part of providing an outstanding education for all students (Achievement), the district is
focused on racial equity transformation at all levels. The work of Pathway Schools to approach literacy
instruction, including multilingual instruction, through a racial equity lens, demonstrates this focus. The
Project also fits the districts emphasis on Personalized Learning by utilizing individual student data and
providing multiple ways for students to explore, express, and demonstrate what they are learning.
Additionally, the PK-3 Literacy Projects emphasis on aligned programming for PreK to K to elementary
fits with the districts priority of connected pathways that provide families with consistent education
and understandable enrollment options at all levels.
As a part of Phase I, we developed a community-based Early Childhood Network group to understand
and build collaboration and alignment around early education in all types of programming. This group
now works on two main goals: Family Engagement and Continuity and Pathways. Because we continue
to have a long wait list for full-day PreK in our Pathway Schools, we recently began collaborating with a
community child-care center to create better alignment and transitions between childcare and our
Pathway Schools. In Phase II, our goal is to extend and deepen this collaboration by working with
centers to share resources including family engagement and coaching staff, professional development,
and instructional supports with the intent to create aligned early learning experiences that provide
seamless transitions for students into our pathway schools.
Our work toward retaining students once enrolled in our Pathway Schools has focused on reaching out
to families, particularly through inviting parents into the classroom to better understand their childs
school experience, such as Take Your Parent to School Days that happen in the fall and transition visits
in the spring to meet the teacher and become acquainted with the next grade level. We welcome
families to share their ideas and concerns. Many teachers offer to visit homes to learn more about how
to support students. The specialty programs at each school also have shown to increase the retention of
students. SPMA offers beginning violin to all pre-K students.
The percentage of Pre-K retention has increased over the past few years from approximately 28% to
77%.
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As we build sustainable educational pipelines and pathways, we know strong, coherent instructional
practice from PreK-5th grade is key to academic success. In each Pathway School the principal and
Leadership Team map out school programs and initiatives to identify how all efforts align. Phase II
alignment priorities include:
--Providing cross grade-level professional development in data-driven instruction.
--Implementation of the successful PreK workshop model in Kindergarten classrooms while supporting
an understanding of student-directed learning and self-regulation in other grade levels.
--Culturally responsive teaching practices.
--Personalized Learning.
We are committed to increasing access to the UEI literacy professional development for more district
leaders in the literacy department and Office of Early Learning. The core professional development
being offered is having a significant effect on our teaching and learning across our two Pathway Schools.
With the support of knowledgeable district leaders, we will be able to expand our base of understanding
in order to move into Phase III more effectively and efficiently in the future.
Transportation poses one challenge to keeping PreK students in the Pathway Schools. District
attendance areas (and transportation boundaries) have been in transition since 2013 and can cause
confusion. Both SPMA and Wellstones dual immersion program are regional magnets: students from
specified attendance areas can receive busing. Families who live outside SPMAs attendance boundaries
may choose the school, if space is available, and provide their own transportation.
District Goals for Phase II:
Expand our learning from PreK-3 to 4th and 5th grade. This includes sharing content
professional development across grade levels and with other schools, as well as exploring the
question of how to extend the impact of UEI coaching.
Continue increased enrollment pipeline Pre-K through 5th grade.
FAMILY AND COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT IN INSTRUCTION
During Phase I of the PK-3 Literacy Project we introduced a 1.0 FTE parent engagement staff member
who serves parents at Pathway Schools, completing needs assessments for parents and collaborating
with others in the district to create a curriculum of comprehensive supports for families. We have
created a Family Engagement Guide for schools that is used at Pathway Schools and is available for
other schools in the district as they work to engage parents around literacy. It includes engagement
tools, needs assessments, suggested format for parent education sessions, resources, activities
examples, and more. As we move into utilizing the STEP assessment for all students we will also use this
transition as an opportunity to examine parent engagement practices and integrate STEP into our
activities. The STEP model includes a strong parent engagement component that we will incorporate.
Because STEP is new for parents, we have identified multiple opportunities to use STEP data and student
observation to engage families in instructional progress:
Take Your Parent to School: Take Your Parent to School days are available to students in PreK-2nd
grade and allow families to connect with their childs learning and learn how to support the progress at
home through facilitated discussions by family engagement coordinator.
Conferences: Parent-teacher conferences take place in the fall and spring. Teachers discuss assessments,
share detailed information about STEP and explain the process, and talk about home support ideas.
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Second grade dual-immersion classrooms at Wellstone have an alternative schedule as part of the
Academic Parent Teacher Teams model, discussed below.
Family Involvement Committee: Each schools family involvement committee includes a family liaison
and is changing the way we engage with families due to survey data, home visit data, and feedback from
teachers. A stable core of PreK-K parents are part of the school community. This parent group works to
create compacts with teachers that outline what parents need to know and do to support student
learning at each grade level.
Parent Teacher Organization (PTO): Our goal is that each schools PTO group is parent-driven and that
parents are engaged as leaders in helping families in the school community. We are working to
introduce literacy support concepts in these settings and create momentum and deeper conversations
with parents. At Wellstone, a PK-3 Literacy Project teacher leader is the PTO leader.
Make and Take: Each school hosts five Make and Take meetings for parents during the school year.
These meetings are designed to align parent-teacher expectations at each grade level. We introduce
materials share tools that parents can use at home. Parents actually make a game or activity to use with
their kids. We plan to strengthen this component by more specifically aligning the Make and Take
activities with classroom curriculum and pacing, based on teacher input. We would also like to
incorporate a classroom component in which students create tools in the classroom that they take
home and teach to their parents.
iPad roll-out and support: Over the last two years we have purchased three iPads for classroom use. As
teachers continue to use these, and as the districtwide iPad rollout extends to Pathway Schools, we will
provide training (Appy Hour) for parents on quality educational apps and screen time education/tips
that support what kids are learning in the classroom. This concept has been successfully implemented at
other schools in the district.
Website resources (SPMA): The SPMA website includes a section of educational games and activities
based on grade level. Several of the included resources focus on building literacy skills.
Home visits and Academic Parent-Teacher Teams (Wellstone): Many of our teachers (13) have done
voluntary home visits, following the Parent/Teacher Home Visit Project (www.pthvp.org ) model. This
has changed teacher's racial equity lenses and led to increased energy and ideas regarding parent
engagement. In 2014-15 one Wellstone 2nd grade classroom will pilot academic parent-teacher teams.
Instead of individual conferences, teams will meet in three group sessions to discuss STEP data and
identify parent strategies specific to their students needs. Eventually we will expand this approach to all
of 2nd and 3rd grade.
Gearing Up for K (Wellstone): This weekly evening program, (outlined on page 8), includes specific
information for parents regarding how to support literacy at home.
Community partners: During Phase I we have done some preliminary work with child care centers. A
new Early Learning Community Partnership Coordinator has been hired to work with Pathway Schools
and Promise Neighborhood schools. We have introduced Early Childhood Network groups, based on
attendance areas, to connect school staff, child care directors, Head Start managers and home child care
providers. In quarterly meetings, the members of these networks work toward aligning curriculum,
instruction and assessments across programs to create a seamless transition for children from
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community child care programs to schools. During Phase II we will be working to expand connections
with community stakeholders, as noted on page 9.
As an Achievement Plus School, SPMA provides many non-academic services for students and their
families. Partnership with the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation allows SPMA to provide Primary
Project/School-Community Connection, a best practices program that helps K-3 students who may be
experiencing trouble adjusting to school, and makes certain they begin their education years on a
positive note. East Side Learning Center provides one-on-one tutoring in reading and assistance with a
variety of needs, such as food, clothing, housing referrals, employment, health insurance, and access to
telephones and computers. Childrens Dental Services addresses students needs at school, and Wilder
Mental Health has psychologists onsite three times per week. Goodwill/Easter Seals employment
consultants assist parents and caregivers with employment services, training and career advancement.
Minnesota Reading Corps and The Saint Paul Foundation volunteers provide small group and one-onone literacy practice.
Wellstone is increasing its volunteer base with agencies such as Minnesota Reading Corps and The Saint
Paul Foundation. The Rice Street Recreation Center, housed in the same building, provides opportunities
for afterschool activities in a supervised and safe environment.
Family and Community Engagement District Goals for Phase II:
Share materials and activities with families that support each students STEP level.
Create opportunities for family members to engage in academic conversations with their school
staff and child.
LISTEN to parents and develop strategies that support student achievement.
Increase partnerships with community stakeholders.
SUSTAINABILITY AND EXPANSION
We have identified three core elements to the success of the Education and Learning Phase I
implementation: ongoing, job embedded professional development for every teacher, leadership
opportunities for strategic planning and cross school/district sharing, and intentional family and
community engagement. In order to continue and expand this initial success the SPPS literacy supervisor
and four additional literacy and Office of Early Learning content coaches will work alongside the building
staff during targeted professional development, strategic planning and collaboration. This time will be
intentionally used to build a deeper and broader district and community knowledge core around high
quality literacy instruction, build leadership capacity and buy-in to set a strong foundation for
sustainability and expansion in the next three years. Through the literacy department, Office of Early
Learning, and general funds, SPPS commits approximately $200,000 per year toward personnel and
professional development costs (see budget narrative).

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