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New diagnostic system comes to Riverhead school district

Beginning next year, administrators in the Riverhead school district will implement a new diagnostic tool called i-Ready to track Common Core standards and student academic growth. 

Developed by Curriculum Associates, i-Ready will replace STAR reading, early literacy and math assessments created by Renaissance Learning Inc. for grades 5-8 in the 2019-20 academic year. The program will be expanded to grades K-4 in 2020-21, assistant superintendent Christine Tona said.

i-Ready offers computerized instruction for students and provides teachers and administrators with analytics on student performance in English Language Arts and mathematics. The program will not modify state learning standards, Ms. Tona said — it’s just an alternative to using state modules for interpreting student scores. 

District administrators reviewed the district’s goals for the upcoming academic year at last Tuesday’s school board meeting, where Ms. Tona discussed the implementation of the new system.

One of the major goals is creating a multi-tiered support system for students, Ms. Tona said, which involves the continuation of data analysis to “identify student needs” and improve classroom instruction.

This fall, along with i-Ready, the district will also implement a new math program from Curriculum Associates — i-Ready Math, for grades K-6 — as well as a phonics program for grades K-2 and a science program, Building Blocks, for grades 3-4 from other providers. 

“All of these programs [received] input from teachers and administrators to help us in making this decision,” Ms. Tona said. “It wasn’t an easy process, but we got here.”

STEM director Kathleen Scholand said that at a previous board meeting she’d indicated an “urgency in math” based on data from STAR reports. 

Through ongoing conversations with teachers, Ms. Scholand said she found student needs were still not being met. She hopes the new program will more effectively analyze and identify student needs. 

Data presented by Ms. Tona showed that between fall 2018 and winter 2019, there was an increase at each grade level in the number of students performing at or above the benchmark for the ELA STAR assessment. STAR reports were then cross-referenced with state ELA results, Ms. Tona said, so the district could find common weaknesses and target small-group instruction in the classroom.

Virginia Healy of Wading River expressed concern about how the district will use i-Ready if data was only collected through STAR in years past. 

“This is like comparing apples and oranges,” she said. “It’s STAR to i-Ready, so now we have to wait two or three years down the road to compare?”

Ms. Tona said the district will analyze how students perform against i-Ready and STAR’s benchmarks scores on the state testing program. 

“We’re looking at it as a holistic piece,” Ms. Tona said, “and it’s one piece of a puzzle, and it’s one piece of data.”

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