Terri Bradshaw is the Secondary Literacy Coach (6–12) for Blount County Schools In Tennessee. For this Q&A, Terri spoke with CommonLit’s Director of School Partnerships, Rob Fleisher. Terri explains why her team adopted CommonLit’s reading program, why they trust CommonLit’s benchmark assessments, and what it has been like to work with CommonLit’s team.
Rob Fleisher (Director of School Partnerships at CommonLit): How did teachers in your district use CommonLit before this school year?
Terri Bradshaw (Secondary Literacy Coach at Blount County Schools, Tennessee): Before this school year, we used it a lot like a textbook because we don’t have textbooks. So, we were looking for high-quality reading passages with assessment capability for each of the texts, and I used it a lot to build the curriculum text selections that we use. I often describe it as a “textbook on steroids” since it has so many features. We have also used the book pairings feature to assist us in blending a novel with informational text.
Rob: What can you share about the quality of CommonLit’s Benchmark Assessments?
Terri: I think that the assessments have been excellent: the questions are high-quality, the way that the distractors are written are top notch as far as item writing goes, the quality of the text, the features in the text for the standards that you’re assessing are very clear. The standards assessed are prominent features in the text. They are very high quality. The feedback that I get from the teachers is that they are very high quality.
Rob: How has your team been able to utilize the data from CommonLit’s Benchmark Assessments this school year?
Terri: We do a lot of analysis in our district. We’ll take a look at not only how we did in a class or grade level in terms of mastery, we also look at the student averages, and then we break it down by the standards. Finally, we see how the kids are doing on each standard.
The CommonLit team responded to our request for individual student reports which are really helpful because we have data chats with the students individually. The kids look at the standards they did well on, the standards they need more work on, and then they set a target. The reports that your team sent to us have been really helpful for having these individual data chats.
Rob: How has your team used CommonLit’s digital library and benchmark assessments in tandem to support student learning this school year?
Terri: When we see that there is a standard that a whole class didn’t do well on, we’ll go into CommonLit looking for a text and use the feature of filtering by standard, and we’ll find a text that we don’t use in our curriculum. After we’ve done some reteaching, then we’ll go back and we’ll use that CommonLit text to see how students do on that standard.
The reports that you have on the free side of the program are very helpful because the teachers and students can see exactly how they are doing with a particular question or standard. We do a lot of error analysis, and we have students look at what is the correct answer and why, but also look at what are the distractors and why they are wrong. This helps them in their ability to discern responses, think about the standard, and think about what the question is asking.
Rob: Often, folks are somewhat reluctant to roll-out a new technology tool. Can you talk a bit about what it’s been like to work with the CommonLit team on the roll-out of assessments this school year?
Terri: That’s been one of the brighter sides of working with your team. The teachers tell me that if they have any issues, they just shoot you an email, and in 3 minutes they get a response. We haven’t had many issues. Our schools are 1 to 1 on computers, so they have the devices, and we use Clever, so it’s been easy.
Rob: What has it been like to work with members of CommonLit’s team?
Terri: The CommonLit team has been amazing, really. When I’ve sent you feedback about the types of data reports that we need for data chats, you responded, built those reports right away and we used them with the students. The data spreadsheets are well organized and easy to use.
You have been more than helpful. The response time has been really fast for any technical questions or ideas about new features.
Bring CommonLit’s Benchmark Assessments to Your District
At CommonLit, we believe that schools and districts deserve access to the best assessments.
Click here to learn more about CommonLit’s District Solutions. To connect directly with me or another member of our School Partnerships Team, send an email to Partnerships@CommonLit.org