Fighting Summer Learning Loss

In partnership with the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), MetaMetrics freely provides the annual “Chief’s Summer Learning Challenge” to state education agencies to develop and sustain their summer reading programs. Led by CEO and President Malbert Smith, Ph.D., who serves on the National Summer Learning Association’s Board of Directors, the summer learning challenge is a favorite project among the MetaMetrics staff. It is fulfilling work that relies on the collaboration and dedication across the MetaMetrics team—from engineering to government relations to the marketing department. This year MetaMetrics celebrates its 5th year of leading the fight against summer learning loss.

This summer, MetaMetrics collaborated with 21 state departments of education to combat the negative effects of summer reading loss. Among the 21 states participating in the Chief’s Summer Learning Challenge, the Lexile “Find a Book” search tool, Summer Reading Log and Summer Reading Pledge were promoted to encourage targeted reading practice. These promotional efforts have not gone unnoticed! For example in Kentucky, with many thanks to the tireless efforts of Kathy Mansfield at the KY Department of Education, over 7,200 summer reading pledges have been submitted. The Summer Reading Pledge is available until August 31st, and so far more than 120,000 books have been pledged to read nationwide.

MetaMetrics also leads a charge against summer math loss. The Summer Math Challenge launched in 2013, and has gained great momentum and popularity over the years. Participants have reported:

“I think that this is a great COST-EFFECTIVE activity for ALL parents. I look forward to each activity so that I have “scheduled learning” time for the summer with my daughter.”

“The summer math challenge was great…the exercises were right on target and fun.

This summer, 19 state education agencies have promoted the Summer Math Challenge through press releases, listserv emails and social media outreach. To see which states particpated this year, and past years, visit: https://www.quantiles.com/content/summer-math-challenge/state-participants/. Like the resources for the Chief’s Summer Learning Challenge, the Summer Math Challenge is made freely available to all participants. For more information about the summer math and reading initiatives, visit: https://www.quantiles.com/content/summer-math-challenge/ and https://lexile.com/chiefs-challenge/.

Kansas Partners With MetaMetrics to Add Quantile Measures to Statewide Assessment

We are pleased to announce the expansion of our partnership with the Kansas State Department of Education. For five years, students in grades 3 through 8 and 10, have received Lexile® measures from the Kansas Reading Assessment. Beginning in the fall of 2016, students will receive both Lexile and Quantile® student measures from the Kansas Assessment Program (KAP).

To report a Quantile measure from the KAP, MetaMetrics will complete an initial research study to link the Kansas test to the Quantile scale. Over the past twenty years, MetaMetrics has engaged in more than 100 studies in 25 states and 24 countries to link assessments to the Lexile or Quantile scale. The KSDE’s reporting of Quantile measures also connects students and teachers with free resources like the Find Your Textbook tool,Math Skills Database, Math@Home® and the Quantile® Teacher Assistant. Kansas continues to use Lexile and Quantile tools in their summer learning efforts year after year. This summer marks the first year that the state has used the Quantile Summer Math Challenge to encourage mathematics practice during the summer months.

Read more about our latest partnership!

New York Makes Finding Lexile-linked Resources Even Easier

Students and teachers in New York will have yet another way to access Lexile-linked information in their school library.  Schools that use OPALS (Open Source Automated Library System) will now be able to search and access material based on Lexile measures:

The collaboration between MetaMetrics and BiblioFiche/Media Flex will provide New York school libraries that use OPALS (Open Source Automated Library System) with access to Lexile measures. According to the MetaMetrics Web site, “A Lexile measure is a valuable piece of information about either an individual’s reading ability or the difficulty of a text, like a book or magazine article. The Lexile measure is shown as a number with an “L” after it — 880L is 880 Lexile.” The Lexile Framework looks at students’ reading ability based on assessment results, and teachers can then select materials based on students’ reading abilities…

For this project, the OPALS support team created a utility that allows Lexile measures to be added to more than 140,000 titles, allowing teachers and librarians to know the reading difficulty of each title. The utility, which supports Common Core State Standards, schedules regular updates.

This link provides another way that teachers can locate and utilize instructional materials within a range of reading levels, helping make differentiation that much easier.  Students will also be able to locate a wide variety of resource materials and books at the appropriate reading level.  As schools across the U.S. shift toward an increased focus on text complexity and helping ensure that all students graduate college and career ready, it’s good to see that New York educators will have the resources they need.

Continuing the Race to the Top

According to this New York Times article, Arne Duncan announced that nearly $200 million dollars in education grants has been awarded to several states that narrowly missed out on the Race to Top funds distributed last year.  Congratulations are due to Illinois, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Arizona, Colorado, Louisiana and Kentucky.  As the Times reports, “The states were awarded the grants to improve student achievement with plans that include developing teacher and principal evaluation systems and expanding studies in science, technology, engineering and math.”

It’s great to see these seven states join the other fourteen that have already received Race to the Top funds. In a time when state officials are faced with the challenge of improving student achievement while reducing state education spending, it’s encouraging to see the availability of these federal funds being utilized, particularly with an emphasis toward STEM education.

A “Road Map for Kansas”

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback held a Literacy Summit this month to discuss his “Road Map for Kansas” and establish three measurable literacy objectives for said roadmap.  Based on NAEP data, Governor Brownback proposed the following three measurable literacy objectives:

1)  Kansas 4th grade students will have a 9% increase on their state reading assessment scores in 2013, meeting Kansas’ current goal of having 95% of students qualify to “Meets Standard” status.

2) For average 4th grade reading scores in 2014, Kansas will be in the top 5 states for highest scores.

3) For average 4th grade reading scores in 2018, Kansas will rank number 1. According to previous data, this boost in ranking would require an increase of 14 points on Kansas NAEP scores. 

Among the literacy experts and educators that were invited to Kansas’ Governor Brownback’s December 7th Literacy Summit include President of Literacy First, Bill Blokker, Director of the University of Kansas Center for Research, Don Deshler, Education Specialist for Save the Children, Cara Schrack, and our own MetaMetrics’ President and Co-founder, Malbert Smith. Malbert discussed the research concerning summer loss in reading and the need to address it.  In addition to summarizing the research, Dr. Smith shared strategies and tools, such as Find-A Book, that states and districts can employ to reduce summer loss.

Governor Brownback concluded that, “This summit was a great opportunity to meet with educational leaders and stakeholders to discuss the challenges we face and the solutions we seek.”  We applaud Kansas on their effort to make student literacy a top priority.

Georgia Considers A New Approach to Post-Secondary Readiness

Education Week is reporting that the Georgia Board of Education is considering a major overhaul of its high school curriculum.  Under the new plan, students would opt for certain career clusters and would take classes that align with their chosen career path.  This represents a significant departure from Georgia’s single track system where each student takes the same set of core curriculum courses.  Here’s more:

It’s part of a campaign promise by current state schools chief John Barge, who said the state was forcing some students to drop out of school because they are frustrated with classes they don’t find relevant to what they want to do after high school. And students should be thinking about their careers before they head off to a pricey four-year university or get stuck in a job they end up hating, he said.

“We can do a much better job preparing students for post-secondary,” Barge said. “Any parent will tell you that college is the most expensive career development.”

The Board is set to decide sometime this fall.

Kentucky Emphasizes Reading

Susan Riddell of Kentucky Teacher, a publication of the Kentucky Department of Education, recently commented on the importance of summer reading:

“Students who participate in summer reading programs are less likely to lose knowledge and skills during the summer,” says Suzanne Crowder, library media specialist at Campbellsville Elementary School.  “Summer reading has the potential to help children make gains in their reading and vocabulary.  It also offers students who live in poverty the opportunity to have reading materials readily available.”

According to Riddell, the Find a Book, Kentuckyinitiative is one resource library specialist and teachers alike are taking advantage of this summer.  After receiving training earlier this year, librarians are recommending this service to patrons- with librarian Kate Schiavi of the Louisville Free Public Library noting that, “I have been having more and more patrons come in looking for books on a particular Lexile level…I have found the Lexile website easy to use and search.  It’s a great tool for them to be able to jump on at their computer at home and come to the library prepared.”

Ample research demonstrates the importance of encouraging reading during summer months to avoid the loss that students suffer when they take a three month hiatus from learning. We are glad to see others taking up this cause, and utilizing the convenience of our utilities which are powered by the research and technology of the Lexile Framework for Reading.  And remember: “Find a Book” is not just for creating summer reading lists.  “Find a Book” can be used year round and is an excellent free tool for allowing students to match themselves to targeted text based on both interest and their reading range.

Summer Literacy Adventure Revisited

Here’s yet another example of local media outlets shining a light on the good work the Florida Department of Education is doing with their Summer Literacy Adventure:

Martin County High, South Fork High, and Jensen Beach High are all three of the high schools in the Martin County School District that are actively participating in this year’s “Summer Literacy Adventure”.  This reading initiative by the Florida Department of Education (partnered with Martin County Library Systems) is designed to help students stay on target, stay motivated, and stay excited about reading and literacy.

…According to the press release, to participate in the Summer Literacy Adventure students can visit the Just Read, Florida website at www.justreadflorida.com to take the pledge.  Students who take the pledge may also utilize a free online tool to search for books based on their reading ability and interests.  The DOE, through MetaMetrics, offers a unique resource called “Find a Book, Florida” at http://florida.lexile.comthat uses Lexile measures, a widely adopted reading metric that can guide a reader to an appropriate level book.

It’s good to see that Martin County School District is pushing to keep students reading over the summer.  And kudos to the local media for reminding parents of the access to free resources right at their fingertips.

The Right Book for Every Reader

The Illinois State Board of Education has incorporated Lexile Find a Book into its 2011 Summer Reading Program.  And here’s the local media picking up on the message on the importance of keeping students reading over the summer months:

Governor Pat Quinn, Secretary of State Jesse White and State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch are urging educators and families to help students retain and develop academic skills by reading during summer vacation.

The free online “Find a Book” utility at www.lexile.com/findabook provides a way for parents and children to quickly and easily search books that match a child’s reading level and interests as well as to locate the local library carrying each title.

It’s good to see that even the local media is joining in the call for keeping students academically engaged over summer vacation.  It’s our hope that parents and students will take notice and then take advantage of free tools like Find a Book and resources like their local public library.

Hats Off to Cincinnati Public Schools

Earlier this month Joe Natham of Education News reported that schools in Cincinnati Public Schools have significantly raised their graduation rates.   In fact, according to Elizabeth Holtzapple, Cincinnati Public Schools Director of Research, Evaluation and Testing, “…the district’s public schools increased overall high school graduation rates to a bit over 81% in 2010.  That’s up from 51% [in] 2000.  She also reported the district also has eliminated the graduation gap between white and African American students.”  CPS made these gains despite more stringent graduation requirements in the years between 2000 and 2007, including statewide standardized testing across multiple areas of study.

This is great news.  In looking at the broader picture, Natham points to several important strategies, including:

  • Focusing on just a few goals (increasing overall graduation rates and reducing the high school graduation gap)
  • Focusing staff development on a few key areas, including literacy, numeracy and ways to work effectively with urban students
  • Partnerships between schools, businesses and community groups focused on project goals
  • Creating small schools or small learning communities in large buildings

Hats off to all students, teachers, parents, administrators and supporters that contributed to the amazing success of the Cincinnati school system in the last decade.  They are to be commended for all of their hard work.

MetaMetrics is an educational measurement organization. Our renowned psychometric team develops scientific measures of student achievement that link assessment with targeted instruction to improve learning.