SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

March 14, 2014

Bentley teachers see hope, promise

(Continued)

During the turnaround, the school has dropped from the bottom 4 percent of schools statewide to the bottom 3 percent. That’s the wrong direction, according to Driscoll and Superintendent Stephen Russell.

Driscoll contends that the city should step in now to make changes rather than wait until next year and face a possible takeover by the state.

The Salem News sat down yesterday with two Bentley teachers, who contend the school should be given more time to prove itself, since this is only the second year of the turnaround, and really the first year that a new curriculum and teaching methods are fully in place.

“In September, we started something here that none of us has ever done before,” said Lisa Roy, a first-grade teacher. “We feel like we’ve just started the work.”

One of the biggest changes, the teachers said, is the use of data-driven instruction — using information from tests given during the school year by a consultant, The Achievement Network, to determine where students need help and how to improve instruction.

Teaching has changed dramatically, they say.

During a single class period, a teacher can address the entire class, work with a small group of students having trouble in a particular area, listen and watch as students demonstrate their mastery of a subject, and then re-teach something the children did not grasp, they said.

It is no longer enough to cover the material, they said. Teachers must know the strengths and weaknesses of every child and use multiple teaching strategies to make sure the students understand the subject.

During a typical week, teachers meet with fellow teachers, as well as specialists in English and math and outside consultants, to review test data, go over teaching strategies and create lessons. They often teach a class while being observed by administrators or consultants who offer suggestions for improving instruction.

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