Renaissance Learning and JBHM Education Group have announced the formation of SetPoint, a consortium that pairs classroom technology with intensive coaching to build capacity for sustained change within the local district. The consortium is designed to offer a research-based approach for transforming chronically struggling schools into successful learning environments without requiring mass dismissals of staff, school closures or turnover to charters or outside management organizations.
The two organizations come to the consortium with complementary backgrounds and skills. Since 1986, Renaissance Learning has produced software for classroom assessment and data-driven decision-making. JBHM was founded a decade ago to help schools struggling to meet No Child Left Behind requirements, and has built a team of experienced superintendents, principals and other educators who help failing schools by working day to day with educators – monitoring, modeling and mentoring.
SetPoint meets or exceeds criteria for federal funding under the "transformational" model for school change described in two programs of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA): the "Race to the Top" initiative and the newly expanded School Improvement Grant (SIG) program. SIG funding is aimed at the bottom five percent of U.S. schools, the group the SetPoint program of intensive intervention targets most directly. Together, the two programs will provide about $8 billion for school improvement. Both require that districts choose among four change models for low- performing schools: closing the school, turning it over to a charter or outside "educational management organization," a "turnaround" process requiring the dismissal of at least half the faculty, or the transformation model.
With the SetPoint process, most staff members remain in their positions and receive intensive coaching and modeling in best instructional practices from experienced principals and school leaders. Mentors are in the school daily to provide teachers, staff and administrators with the support they need to adhere to an approach called the "Five Essential Practices." This model for improving schools was developed by JBHM over decades in close consultation with experts on effective instruction.
The "Five Essential Practices" are designed to turn a dysfunctional school into a thriving learning community. 1) The school must use a research-based curriculum, aligned with district, state and national standards and taught with fidelity to all students. 2) The school environment and culture must be safe, secure and orderly so that learning can happen. 3) Both the amount and quality of instructional time must be increased for all students, particularly in reading, math and writing, including substantial time for guided practice of acquired skills. 4) Student achievement must be monitored constantly and consistently, using technology to both assess and analyze the data. 5) School policies and procedures must support the ongoing implementation of educational best practices.
Meanwhile, students have access to the most highly rated and advanced instructional technology for both learning and assessment on their own wireless-network laptops. Educators rely on a steady stream of assessment data to personalize instruction for every student, providing more intensive intervention for struggling students as called for in the evidence-based Response to Intervention (RTI) model.
For more information about SetPoint, go to www.setpointschools.com.
Source: Renaissance Learning, Inc., www.renlearn.com/