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Connecting the Dots: Using LDC to Measure and Monitor Student Growth

October 11th, 2016
Note: We are pleased to welcome guest bloggers Carol Franks, Kelly Philbeck, and Rebecca Woosley from the Kentucky Department of Education.

When we think of measuring student growth, many times thoughts immediately go to an easily gathered, computerized assessment score. It’s quick. It’s easy. It’s somewhat comparable. Teachers across the state of Kentucky wanted another option. They wanted a true measure of their students’ work and their students’ progress. They wanted to be able to monitor their students throughout the year, authentically measure students’ growth, and adjust instruction to meet student needs. They wanted to actually see through the lens of their students’ work—where their students excel and where they struggle. They wanted something more meaningful—something the computerized score did not provide.  

To meet these needs, many of our Kentucky teachers asked about the possibility of using Literacy Design Collaborative (LDC) to measure and monitor student growth. They were successfully using LDC in their classrooms, and saw LDC modules, the LDC Mini-Task Library, and the Big Bank Task Template as authentic measures of how their students were progressing with extracting evidence from text, using evidence to build arguments, and organizing their thoughts in written communication—the enduring skills that made the work meaningful. Teachers wondered, if LDC is an effective framework in their classrooms, could it be an effective measure of their students’ growth?

Thus, began the process of creating the Kentucky Department of Education’s (KDE’s) LDC Student Growth Scenarios. These tools were designed to provide teachers with examples of how to use LDC as a measure and a monitoring system for student growth. By using an LDC teaching task as an assessment task, giving students a prompt for a cold write, and providing students 2-3 supporting texts to use for a cold read, teachers are able to identify and target specific areas of need for their students to grow. Together, with other formative assessments, teachers can gain a truer picture of their students’ abilities and set a baseline using the LDC mode-appropriate rubric.

Below are parallels to show how LDC matches Kentucky’s Student Growth Goal-Setting Process. As we describe this process, we will refer to our Fourth-Grade ELA SGG Scenario to illustrate each step of the Student Growth Process and how it can be applied with LDC. We will abbreviate some of the details in our blog, but the link to the scenario will provide additional clarifying details and examples of supporting tools.

Student Growth Process Step 1: Determine Needs

LDC: After identifying the Enduring Skills, decide on the appropriate measurement.

In our fourth-grade ELA scenario, Mrs. Turner starts her year with a new group of 24 students. She spends the first few weeks of school establishing and building relationships with her students so she can learn more about their interests and abilities. Along with getting to know her students on a personal level, Mrs. Turner also uses a variety of written and performance assessments to formatively assess her students’ reading, writing, speaking, and listening abilities. In addition to her own classroom assessments, Mrs. Turner wants to capture a comprehensive picture of her students’ current performance levels. To do this, she also analyzes her students’ assessment data from their latest state, district benchmark, and school-based common assessments.

After analyzing her students’ formative, interim, and summative assessment data, Mrs. Turner identifies a large gap between her students’ multiple choice/content knowledge and their written performance. When setting growth goals for her students, Mrs. Turner wants to address a measure that she can not only monitor quantitatively throughout the year, but is a tangible measure which will allow her to closely monitor her students’ progress and provide specific feedback.

Throughout the previous school year, Mrs. Turner participated in Literacy Design Collaborative workshops and used LDC tasks and modules in her classroom. Recently, she and her fellow teachers analyzed student work based on the LDC rubrics. Formatively assessing her students’ beginning-of-year writing, Mrs. Turner further determined that her students’ writing is an area in which they need to grow. While the majority of her students are able to organize their pieces and state a claim/opinion in their writing, they struggle with developing claims and controlling ideas with key details and reasons—an enduring skill she knows her students need to master.

Step 2: Create Specific Learning Goals Based on Pre-Assessment Data

LDC: Use the LDC task templates to create a classroom assessment as one part of the baseline data. This writing product is evidence of what the students can do independently.

After scoring and charting her student work, Mrs. Turner identifies two areas of the LDC rubric, reading/research and development, as areas in which her students need to grow and improve.

Mrs. Turner then makes specific connections between the enduring skills and her fourth-grade standards.

Focus Standards:  

  • RI.4.8  Explain how an author uses reasons and evidence to support particular points in a text.

  • RI.4.9  Integrate information from two texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.

  • W.4.1 Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons or information.

  • W.4.1.b.  Provide reasons that are supported by facts and details.

  • W.4.1.c.  Link opinions and reasons using words and phrases.

Establishing a Baseline: Mid/Late September

To set a baseline for her students, Mrs. Turner gives her students an LDC teaching task she and fellow grade-level teachers in her district created as a common baseline assessment. Mrs. Turner gives her students the task as a cold read/cold write to accurately establish a baseline of where her students are performing with their literacy skills.

Mrs. Turner created an on-demand like assessment using Task Template: A3:

Should recess time be extended in our school? After reading informational texts two different authors wrote on the pros and cons of extending recess time, write a speech present to our Site Based Decision Making Council in which you explain your opinion on whether or not we should extend recess time in our school, based upon the reasons and evidence provided by the authors. Support your opinion with evidence from the texts.

Mrs. Turner’s Student Growth Goal:

For the 2014-2015 school year, all students in my fourth-grade class will make measurable progress in supporting an opinion/claim with appropriate and credible details. All students will move up at least one level in the areas of Reading/Research and Development and 40% will achieve at least a 3 or higher level on the Reading/Research and Development scoring criteria of the 2-5 LDC Opinion Rubric and/or the 2-5 LDC Informational Rubric.

Step 3: Create and Implement Teaching and Learning Strategies

LDC: After analyzing classroom assessment results, use that data to inform module design—specifically Section 2: What Skills and Section 3: What Instruction?

Mrs. Turner designs modules and mini-tasks to teach throughout the year which will help her measure and monitor her students’ growth in reading/research and development. Each of these elements can be taught and measured through LDC argument/opinion tasks and informational tasks.  

Step 4: Monitor Student Progress through Ongoing Formative Assessment

LDC: Module implementation, formative assessment data will inform instructional decisions. Build in additional assessments for evidence of students’ abilities to independently apply learning.

Mrs. Turner teaches modules throughout the year and monitors students’ progress through those modules. Additionally, she formatively assesses and monitors student learning through the mini-tasks she intentionally places throughout her modules. She also uses mini-tasks relating to reading/research and development from the LDC CoreTools Mini-Task Library and from the Big Bank Task Collection in daily instruction to monitor student progress and to make instructional modifications based on students’ performance. (See Fourth-Grade SGG Scenario pages 5 and 6.)

Step 5: Determine Whether Students Achieved the Goals

LDC: Use a classroom assessment (LDC template task) for summative Student Growth Goal data for the enduring skill.

Mrs. Turner returns to the LDC rubric and administers another cold read/cold write using an LDC teaching task. She compares the data from her baseline assessment to students’ summative performance and to other progress monitoring data throughout the year.  


For Kentucky teachers, LDC provides a means of connecting the dots between instruction and monitoring student growth. LDC is the authentic framework for standards-based instruction, formative and summative assessments, and teacher effectiveness, naturally merging meaningful practice with powerful impact on student learning.

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