• JP works with schools providing training on how to ameliorate teacher weaknesses brought to light through the process of teacher evaluation.

  • JP partners with schools and districts across the country to provide intensive professional development for scientifically-based programs.

  • Common Core State Standards, Factors Influencing Student Achievement, Responsive Coaching, Teacher Evaluation, Autism

  • JP brings together several critical factors in the development of an effective school.

  • JP Associates offers our sites grant writing assistance. Take advantage of our experience writing successful grant requests.
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The School Improvement Specialists
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Joyful Independent Reading: Choice, Agency, and Engagement with Books

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Choosing books to read and enjoy is at the heart of what it means to be literate. Our classrooms provide a learning community in which each child falls in love with books. Children taste the language and art of wonderful authors and illustrators and expand their worlds through books. When they walk into a classroom that features a library of appealing categories—authors, topics, illustrators, genres, award-winning books, or series—they learn that their days in school will include time and resources to nourish their hearts and minds. They learn that they will have the opportunity to read books they want to read, and they will develop their habits, tastes, and identities as readers. Children learn to read by reading, thinking, talking, and writing about reading. And the research is clear: Independent reading is unmistakably linked to student achievement (Reutzel et al., 2008).

All Roads Lead to Independent Reading

We envision a multitext approach, using different texts in different instructional contexts, to support independent reading. In this approach, students engage with

  • High-quality children's literature that the teacher selects and reads aloud to the students.
  • Beautiful, enlarged texts that students read together in a shared way.
  • Short, high-quality, and leveled texts that the teacher selects for teaching small groups during guided reading.
  • Engaging trade books that students choose to discuss in book clubs.
  • Individual titles in a classroom library for students to choose for independent reading (organized by topic, author, genre, or some other characteristic, rather than by level).

A multitext approach is coherent because students work toward building a system of strategies for independent, proficient reading across each context (Fountas & Pinnell, 2017a). Students experience a variety of genres in different ways and bring all their understandings to the books they choose to read for themselves.

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Accelerate Learning Through Independent Reading

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In his address to the American Library Association in 2005, then-Senator Barack Obama noted that "literacy is the most basic currency of the knowledge economy." The knowledge economy relies on people who can communicate with others, engage in self-reflection and self-direction, and learn autonomously. In a world where information and technology are moving at ever-increasing rates of speed, our students need to know how to build their knowledge independently and not simply wait passively for someone else to present it to them. The path to building these skills, habits, and dispositions begins with independent reading. Whether in school or out, independent reading builds knowledge. And knowledge, in turn, amplifies reading skills.

Independent Reading Builds Knowledge

Research on the correlation between achievement on standardized tests and reading outside of school is clear—reading volume is associated with academic performance (Anderson, Wilson, and Fielding, 1988). To illustrate this point, consider three hypothetical 5th grade students. The first reads 40 minutes a day on average, meaning she is consuming more than 2.3 million words per year. Her test scores show it; she's in the 90th percentile on standardized assessments. The second—an average student—scores in the 50th percentile. The correlational data show that he reads on average for 12 minutes a day, resulting in about 601,000 words consumed per year, or 1.7 million fewer words than his high-achieving classmate. Of even more concern is the child who reads for only 90 seconds a day on average outside of school. This child is exposed to a deeply impoverished 51,000 words per year (about the same reading volume the first student reads in a week) and scores in the 10th percentile on standardized tests. He will enter high school nearly 7 million words behind his high-achieving classmate. This sobering data is correlational, not causal, but it points to the multiplicative effect of low reading volume across the school years.

Knowledge Builds Independent Reading Ability

Now let's look at the reciprocal: what does knowledge do for reading? Evidence comes from studies like this one done with 7th graders. Students were sorted into four groups across two criteria: current reading level and baseball knowledge. After reading an informational passage about baseball, they were assessed on their comprehension and recall of what they had read. To no one's surprise, those who were strong readers and possessed high knowledge of baseball scored at the most proficient. But to everyone's surprise, the students with lower reading skills but high levels of baseball knowledge performed at comparable levels. In fact, they outperformed those who had high reading skills but low levels of baseball knowledge (Recht and Leslie, 1988). In other words, prior knowledge had a mediating effect on reading performance. The takeaway from these two iconic studies? Knowledge is acquired through reading and in turn plays an influential role in what is understood when reading.

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As public pre-K expands in schools, study finds principals are unprepared to support it

JP has over a quarter of century experience helping schools implement effective pre-school education. Give us a call and explore how we can help you.  516-561-7803 or email at . Our School Improvement Specialist are eager to help. 

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Principals lack the experience and expertise in early childhood education that is needed as pre-K programs expand in public elementary schools and that could inhibit their ability to manage and support pre-K teachers, according to a new report.

Early Childhood Preparation for School Leaders: Lessons from New Jersey Principal Certification Programs” by the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment at the University of California, Berkeley, found that principal familiarity with pre-K is a problem nationwide but researchers zeroed in on New Jersey, which has a highly regarded public pre-K program but no requirement for principals to have college-level coursework in early childhood education.

A 2015 report found only one in five principals nationally who were supervising a pre-K program at their school felt well-trained in early childhood concepts.  A 2017 report found most principal certification programs “do not provide comprehensive instruction focused on children prior to kindergarten.”

In New Jersey, during the 2015-16 school year, 30,000 children started a pre-K program in a state elementary school.

Twenty-three institutions of higher education offer principal certification programs in the state, and 18 were included in the study. Among those programs, only 23 percent required principal candidates to learn about the development of children’s and adolescents’ math skills. Only 39 percent required coursework on children’s and adolescents’ literacy skills. More than 75 percent of programs said they do not offer or do not require human development and learning from candidates in principal certification programs. These are topics that help educators understand “the course of typical and atypical development as well as age appropriate expectations for learning and behavior,” according to the report. Without this knowledge, adults may label normal behaviors as “problematic,” which leads to unnecessary discipline.

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Teachers: These are the 6 must-know strategies for great blended learning

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Teachers offer insights on how to ensure successful blended learning instructional strategies.

Teachers value today’s classroom digital resources, but students might not be as comfortable using technology as parents and educators believe, according to a new report about successful blended learning strategies.

The report, Teaching with Technology, a new report from the Foundation for Blended and Online Learning (FBOL) and the Evergreen Education Group, characterizes blended teaching as using a combination of face-to-face instruction and digital content, tools, and resources.

A survey of teachers from 38 states finds that time, thoughtful planning and support at the school- and district-level, and ongoing relevant professional development are key to the success or stagnation of their blended learning efforts.

Teachers are incorporating new technology tools and strategies into their classroom practice, and despite their different approaches, and blended learning plays a large role in teachers’ approaches.

The report draws insight from educators teaching in traditional public schools, charter public schools, alternative education programs, and private schools, as well as in-depth interviews with teachers and administrators across the country, and school and classroom observations by its authors.

Nearly all respondents (97 percent) said they are using computers in their teaching, and between 64 and 66 percent of respondents report that they are using each of four types of resources and strategies: student creation of documents, student collaboration, free online resources, and online resources purchased by the school or district. This finding demonstrates that use of open educational resources and purchased resources is not either/or, but that in some cases teachers are using both free and purchased materials.

About 60 percent of respondents said they regularly use formative assessments (61 percent) and/or differentiated instruction (58 percent).

The report offers a number of major takeaways and recommendations, based on teachers’ responses:

1. For teachers to be successful in their use of technology, the devices, internet access, online content, and software must work well and consistently. Some teachers report that they have two versions of their lesson plans—one for using computers and one for paper when internet access fails—but clearly it is not reasonable to expect most teachers to take on that level of planning. Although many schools are using computer labs or carts, teachers who are further along in implementing technology express frustration at not having better and easier access to computers.

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What Pre-K Means for Your Pre-Teenager

Just how important is good preschool in the course of a child’s life?

Skeptical researchers have contended that it doesn’t really matter, that preschool provides only short-term educational assistance that fades out after a few years. But new findings from a continuing study of 4,000 children in Tulsa, Okla., should put that contention to rest. High-quality prekindergarten has powerful long-term cognitive effects.

The researchers, based at Georgetown University, began tracking these children in 2006 and followed them through the eighth grade. As eighth graders, they were less likely to be held back than their classmates who did not attend preschool, and their scores on the state’s math achievement test were higher. They were also more likely to take algebra in the eighth grade — a consistent predictor of college readiness.

It’s not just that the Tulsa preschoolers were ahead of their peers academically when they got to kindergarten. While the gap in math achievement narrowed over time, the students who had gone to prekindergarten still maintained an academic advantage in middle school. When the researchers used the Tulsa data to project the impact of the program into adulthood, they concluded that because of those youngsters’ higher projected income and diminished likelihood of incarceration, every dollar invested in quality preschool could generate a two-dollar return.

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