Questions 1-4:

Background: Our Year 2 decision to require band for all 120 6th grade students at Taft Elementary School arose from our examination of STAR assessment data from Year 1. These data indicated that the 67 students in 6th-grade band in 2014-15 (then optional) demonstrated greater improvement in mathematics and reading than 6th graders not enrolled in band.

The Year 1 data also indicated that higher-performing students were choosing band, and lower-performing students were not. We did not have the data to know why this was taking place, but we thought we might have the remedy: make 6th-grade band mandatory. At the same time, we have continued to support music instruction in grades K-5 as well.
Here’s what we thought “success” would look like: Students will demonstrate knowledge of elements of music literacy, express positive comments about participation in music programs, attend school regularly and 95% of 6th graders will perform at 50th percentile and above in reading and mathematics.
We are looking for the following outcomes, using the following tools:
  1. Students will demonstrate fundamentals of music literacy including music notation, rhythm, count/note value and meter. Tools: Simple pre- and post-tests, given by individual teachers. Also, see the “Star Wars” theme video — many of these sixth grade students were absolute beginners in September.
  2. 6th-grade daily attendance rates in 2015-16 will show improvement over 2014-15 school year. Tool: Attendance data, still TBD for 15-16.
  3.  GEAR Up data and parent/student surveys will evidence positive experience with music. Tool: GEAR Up surveys and our own Survey Monkey survey, delivered in Fall 2015 and Fall 2016.
  4.  Music class retention rates for grades 7-12 in 2014-15 will improve over 2014-15. Tool: Band, choir attendance figures yet to come.
  5.  STAR formative assessments in reading and math for the entire 6th-grade class (who are enrolled in band) show growth over the 2015-16 school year that exceeds the 2014-15 assessment results of the 50% of 6th grade class (enrolled in band). Tool: STAR assessments, attached.
  6.  Student surveys & concert videos demonstrated positive engagement with music. Tool: 6th Grade Band Evaluation 06 2015, Attached, “Thank You Mr. Freel” video
  7. Smarter Balance test results (introduced recently) – anticipate improvement – unsure about interpretation at this time. Tool: Smarter Balance Year to Year comparisons available next year.

Throughout the course of the grant Lincoln County School district has used a Formative Assessment System Called STAR for the Renaissance Learning Company. This test all the students in both reading and mathematics and tracks their growth throughout the year. It also shows their percentile ranking of like students throughout the united states. The students take this test about six times a year to help monitor student growth and also to assist with planning student curriculum. Attached are the 6th-Grade average growth for the 2015-2016 school year. Two graphs one for reading and one for math (see attached). 6th Math 4-8-16 6th Reading 4-8-16

How will you use what you learned to inform your efforts next year?

Data from our 2014-15 academic year caused us to modify both the music programs offered (moved to required 6th grade band) and the content of those programs (emphasis on Music Literacy in grades K-6) for the current 2015-16 school year. We will continue to improve music programs and content for the 2016-17 school year based on year-end data.

We also learned the value of hands-on teachers, who brought our 6th graders up to speed on their instruments and in class behavior standards. In our third year, we will continue to support the district’s full-time staff with instructional assistants and musical volunteers.

Note: Post contributors were Project Lead Christine Tell, Evaluation Coordinator Niki Price and Taft Elementary School principal Nick Lupo.