Sending your child to school each day requires a lot of trust in your teachers and school staff. You want your child to be loved and cared for, but you also want your child to be fully engaged in what they’re learning each day. You need to know that the teachers know what your student is capable of, what skills are strengths and which may need a little more nurturing.
The School of the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen has a strong system in place to be sure that each child’s strengths and need areas are identified, targeted, and nurtured to ensure and track growth through each school year.
How? Through purposeful assessment and intentional planning. Teachers analyze results, and tailor fit instruction to meet students’ needs, all while sharing information with parents as to how they can help at home.
“We really feel like the data that we collect is purposeful, and it helps to inform instruction and practice,” shared Lower School Dean, Rosanna Czarnecki. “At Cathedral, we use data as a tool to be purposeful and intentional in planning and getting to know the whole child. We aren’t only subscribed to paper and pencil tasks. We use many different methods to get to know each child. We meet them where they are developmentally and nurture and guide them with clear instruction. Collecting data shows us where to begin, and helps us to track growth.”
Kindergarten, Prefirst and First Grade teachers all work carefully with students three times per year to identify student achievement with phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. Fountas and Pinnell and DIBELS are the assessments that they use, and both, give teachers incredible insight into what students already know, and what they will need to learn. Students in grades 2-5 identify student achievement in math and reading using the STAR 360 assessments on IPADS, while students in grades 6-8 complete the tests on Chromebooks.
Once a student’s data has been collected, Ms. Czarnecki meets with teachers monthly to discuss student needs and ways to reach them all individually. Academic enrichment activities are created for students who are above the benchmarks and may look like extensions to activities, small group investigations or alternate assignments. If a student requires a bit more support, Cathedral has a unique program, entitled The Regina Plan, which was designed to assist students with one on one tutoring 2-3 times per week. Patty Darby, Regina Plan Coordinator, works carefully with teachers, parents, students, and tutors to be sure that student needs are being met.
“Our Regina Plan is multi-sensory, structured and sequential. Our tutors work closely with students to build skills each week in a prescriptive, cumulative way,” she explained. “We employ Orton-Gillingham methodology, and it’s proven to be very successful for students with language based differences, and helps students to succeed in reading, writing and spelling.” Students who participate in the Regina Plan, spend the amount of time needed to close any gaps and build necessary skills, and then usually graduate from the program.
“We have so many triumphant moments with the Regina Plan. When our students work so hard, and meet their benchmarks, it’s such a gift to meet with their families and share their success stories. We’re seeing some great progress within our program, and watching our graduates soar is the greatest gift!” shared Ms. Darby. “We also know that the data that we collect isn’t just about the numbers. It’s all about wanting to know who each child is, and to celebrate all children for the growth that they make each day, and each year.”
To learn more about The School of the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, visit their website.
Editor’s Note: This article is sponsored by the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Photos by Laura Black.