Ernst Prussing Elementary
Increase opportunities for student writing, enhance data-driven instruction, and support student-led learning. (Not to mention out-of-the-park NWEA scores.)
Location: Serving the Jefferson Park community on Chicago’s Northwest Side.
Population: 756 students in grades Pre-K through 8.
Low Income: 71.0%
Diverse Learners: 10.8%
Limited English: 34.0%
About: Prussing is a Chicago Public Schools Level 1+ school - the city’s top designation. Prussing offers a Comprehensive Gifted Program for students in grades 1-8, a French World Language Program, and bilingual and English as a Second Language support. The school has also been named a School of Excellence.
Adopting a Growth Mindset
“Important achievements require a clear focus, all-out effort, and a bottomless trunk full of strategies. Plus allies in learning.” - Carol Dweck
Prussing is a top-rated CPS school and earned above average marks for student growth, student attainment, and school culture and climate during the 2016-17 school year. While they certainly have a lot to be proud of, Prussing administrators along with the instructional leadership team (ILT) are committed to the school’s continuous improvement. This is a growth mindset in action.
This school year, one of Prussing’s key growth targets is further improving student writing across content areas -- especially for their upper grade students (5-8). To achieve this goal, they chose to partner with The Graide Network, an ally in learning, to:
Create fast, effective feedback loops in the classroom
Enhance data-driven instruction and decision-making
Foster student engagement and student-led learning
Multifaceted Supplemental Support
“A platform to build from, not a crutch to lean on.” - Mr. Kadri, 6-8 Grade ELA
In the beginning of the school year, the Prussing ILT was busy evaluating a number of supplemental instructional programs and tools to support their work when they found The Graide Network. They were immediately intrigued. The platform was well-aligned to support what they aimed to accomplish and provided clear wins for their students and teachers. But, they had one overarching question: If someone else is reading and responding to my students’ work, how I will know what to do in class the next day? Isn’t this my job? How will this actually work?
The teachers decided to start with a small pilot. From the very first few assignments (including a 7th grade ELA narrative essay, a 7th grade social studies Continental Congress compare/contrast essay, and an 8th grade science lab report), the teachers were blown away. Rather then feeling removed, they had found a tool that elevated their instructional practice. Teachers loved digging into the detailed class and student data reports. It was an entirely new kind of performance analysis to help drive their lesson planning and instruction. And of course, it didn’t replace their traditional practice of reading and providing feedback themselves. Rather, it allowed them do more for their students - more writing opportunities, more fast feedback, and more personalized, targeted support.
The Graide Network in Action
Prussing teachers leverage Graide Network support to achieve strategic goals.
With their initial concern overcome, the Graide Network pilot was rolled into a full partnership for ELA, social studies and science teachers in grades 5 through 8. Over the past few months, Prussing teachers have leveraged Graiders to meaningfully increase writing opportunities for their students across the curriculum and dramatically accelerate the feedback loop. They have been able to accomplish other strategic goals as well, including:
Improve Data-Driven Instruction:
Before, analyzing data meant combing through stacks of essays and creating piles of papers by problem-area. Prussing teachers have reimagined this process. As Mr. Kadri explains:
“Now, The Graide Network creates digital piles for me - I can quickly see how my students are performing across various rubric components. I can see which students are struggling with organizing their writing, who needs help crafting a strong, focused thesis, or which kids are missing topic and transition sentences. I’m able to group students more effectively by areas of need and create targeted, personalized lesson plans and assignments for them.”
Plus, The Graide Network enables teachers to track and analyze data over the course of the school year through a digital portfolio. As more assignments are completed, teachers can easily measure student and class-wide growth over time. Tracking and analyzing objective, student-focused, classroom-level data has been a big win.
Pro Teacher Tip: Use a consistent rubric combined with a third-party reader across assignments to increase reliability and transparency of what once were highly subjective grades.
Students become partners in their own learning when they have a chance to see their own data, identify skills or standards that need development, create plans to address those gaps, and measure the results of their plan. This is the exact feedback loop that The Graide Network supports. After passing back feedback reports to students, Prussing teachers provide time in class for students to read and reflect on their feedback, either on their own or in small groups. They use the reports and pull exemplars to drive class-wide discussions (often student-led!), targeted small group exercises, and individual student reflection and revision.
The reports serve as an effective tool for student conferencing, too. Prussing teachers regularly schedule one-on-one meetings with students to walk through the report, address questions, and set goals that create attainable objectives for students to strive towards.
Implementation 101: Student Conferencing
The feedback model in Mr. Kadri’s classroom is especially thoughtful. Here's his process:
“I have every student take their feedback report and (1) read it independently, (2) set quantifiable goals for their next assignment, (3) meet with me so we can jointly assess if the goals are attainable and realistic, and (4) we analyze in-line comments together noting questions and feedback that Graiders provide. This last step is a mandated, teacher-guided reflection of their writing and possibly the most important step.”
Personalized, narrative feedback helps even the lowest performing students feel more connected to, motivated by, and engaged with the revision process. The Graide Network provides an easy way to share individualized feedback which organizes the student’s thoughts in an actionable way to drive change.
“Using the Graide Network report has allowed for more clear, direct conversations with my students - plus, they’re more motivated to revise their work. We can create goals and action plans together and be accountable for progress.”
- Mr. Kadri
We’ve been thrilled to hear such positive feedback from teachers, but we are even more excited to hear what Prussing students have to say! Here are the results of the student survey:
74% of students reported enhanced metacognition -- that is, they better understood their own areas of strength and areas for growth as a result of their feedback
73% of students believe the feedback helped them improve on future assignments
91% of students want to keep working with a Graider in the future!
What else did students have to say? (unedited)
“To me, honestly this is a very different way of grading than I had ever experienced. It is a big push for me to start improving on my weaknesses that I have and have had. I like the way they are doing this grading process. My feedback is fast and its detailed. I can't wait for the others they will grade of mine!”
“I want people that I don't know to read my work because the people I do know my classmates just say it is good when it is not. So, I am happy my teacher lets us use Graiders.”
“The feedback was great and seeing where I can improve helped me see where to fix my mistakes for future essays and assignments, and I like the one-on-one style of it. I also liked that the feedback is simple and understandable.”
“I like my Graiders because when we turn work in, it comes back quick with a honest grade and she tells us what we have to work on. It also helps me find out strengths and weaknesses in my writing skills.”
Update Fall 2018:
Mr. Kadri’s 7th grade class outperformed school, district, state, and national averages on the Spring 2018 NWEA assessments, achieving 95% growth from the previous spring. This was the highest growth score in the school, and we are humbled by the opportunity to support his work.