Puzzle of Practice

The end-of-year state assessment scores suggested student literacy at PS78 was stagnant or declining.

Collective Goal

The end-of-year state data illuminated a need to improve student literacy at PS78. Given the data and the relevancy of student literacy, everyone readily accepted the goal of increasing student ownership of reading, writing, and communicating.  

While improving student ownership was the end goal, it was certainly not the initial goal or a logical starting place. The staff at PS78 had to initially commit to developing a shared understanding of what success with literacy looks like and a shared understanding of best practices. Then, they had to commit to creating a school culture committed to learning, which started with the staff modeling their commitment to life-long learning and improvement.

Collective Action

As with any change, many factors led to the school’s success. The list below captures many of the strategic moves they made to implement sustainable change. 

  • The school co-created shared expectations for what it means to be a literate student. Then, they ensured every teacher had the clarity, training, and support needed to meet those expectations.
  • Teams analyzed performance data to determine the schools’ historical strengths, as well as the areas needing improvement. They ensured screening and diagnostic assessments would be administered and analyzed throughout the year.
  • Teams identified and unpacked priority standards aligned to these areas of improvement and are transferable within and across grade levels.
  • The leadership team partnered with Dr. Paul Bloomberg to create a school schedule and teaching structure that engages students in deliberate practice through scaffolded grade-level work and differentiated, small-group support. 
  • Teachers adopted a collaborative reading structure in grades 3-5 to focus learners on discussing rigorous questions matched to the expectations of the state exams and deliberately applying key skills and strategies to multiple reads of selected texts. 
  • The revised school schedule included more collaborative time for grade levels to implement the Impact Team Analysis of Student Work and respond to student needs. 
  • As a result of their analysis, the school developed a powerful “walk to learn” plan in K-2 that made it possible for support staff and newly hired part-time teachers to lead small groups addressing student needs. 
  • Student groups have been expanded to include 3-5 and are frequently adjusted based on progress monitoring of students’ strengths and needs. 
  • Teams will screen their current students at the end of the year so they can “hit the ground running” with differentiated support in the fall.
Collective Impact

Leadership and teachers at PS 78 are thrilled that their inquiry has yielded an 18% overall increase in ELA proficiency on the state assessment with all subgroups showing substantial progress. These gains have moved the school off of the Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI) List 2022-2023. 

Educators at PS 78 attribute their success to a shared understanding of what constitutes success with literacy and the implementation of high-yield practices. Even with a recent shift to a new program, teachers have shared that they are confident in their approach, feel supported within their teams and are clear on the expectations of the standards and have students who can discuss their goals in relation to their learning intentions and success criteria.