Schools are finding that their state accountability ratings improve when teacher coaches help with state assessments, providing mentorship and instructional and classroom-management techniques to teachers.
Principal Debbie Sims began using teacher coaches this year in order to boost Provident Heights Elementary School’s scores for the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness. The school in Waco, Texas had been slipping in math performance.
She wanted to make sure that all the students are prepared to pass the tests during the current school year, even though the campus met the state standard for 2013-2014. The Region 12 Education Service Center in Waco provides the mentor teacher program.
Sims has been very pleased with the outcomes, and wants to expand the coaching into different subject areas, not just math. A Region 12 coach came four times to Provident Heights in September, paid for by a state grant.
“It’s really helping the entire campus,” Sims said. “After we’re seeing the math model work, we’re really interested to expand it to the science model, as well.”
Provident Heights instructional specialist Courtney Bender said the school hasn’t done its first set of student assessment tests to measure growth. But, she said, if student engagement is an indicator, she expects an improvement.
“The (students) were so engaged and eager to learn,” Bender said. “The coaching model has been very successful because the teachers are able to see a real-world experience.”
Connally Elementary School used a coach for its math teachers last year and expanded to include science classes this year, said Jennifer Marshall-Higgins, spokeswoman for Region 12. University High School and J.H. Hines Elementary also use the program, she said.
The program has almost doubled from the previous year, when 11 schools requested coaches for the 2013-14 school year. Thirty schools — with more coming in — requested coaches for the 2014-15 school year.