Students Raise STAAR Scores in English with NoRedInk
In 2018-19, Wylie ISD earned an overall grade of an “A” from the Texas Education Agency based on student achievement, school progress, and closing achievement gaps. The district performs exceptionally well in preparing students for success in school and after high school, and it continues to strive to improve learning for each student. Writing instruction is a key part of that.
“Writing is always a focus. We wanted to provide more tools, especially technology tools, to truly individualize instruction and meet students where they are. That’s why we chose NoRedInk,” said Stephen Davis, Ed.D., executive director of secondary curriculum for Wylie ISD, a fast-growing school system located 24 miles northeast of metropolitan Dallas.
“We had been using textbooks and teacher-created materials,” said Tedra Ault, the high school ELAR learning specialist for Wylie ISD. “With NoRedInk, teachers can now provide practice that meets the needs of each student, instead of having everybody practice the same thing at the same time.”
Differentiating instruction to address writing gaps
Wylie ISD began using NoRedInk Premium in 2017-18 after several teachers shared how much they and their students enjoyed using the free version of the curriculum. NoRedInk Premium provides a complete, adaptive writing curriculum for students in grades 6-12. In Wylie ISD, it is used in grades 7-12 in every middle school and high school.
“Some students come to high school struggling with writing skills and the writing process in general,” said Ashley Loyd, an ELAR teacher at Wylie East High School. “NoRedInk helps us fill in the gaps.”
NoRedInk’s online curriculum includes diagnostic tools and assessments, targeted skills practice, a writing platform that guides students through the drafting and revision process, and instructional resources for teachers. Wylie ISD teachers use these materials and the platform’s live tracking capabilities to prioritize instruction and intervene to meet students’ needs.
“With NoRedInk, I can see strengths and weaknesses for the whole class and individuals,” said Loyd. “I can then target those skills and assign practice for on-the-spot remediation.”
Providing immediate feedback for faster progress
NoRedInk’s mastery-based assignments require Wylie ISD students to demonstrate understanding of a skill before advancing. According to Loyd, this approach saves time for both students and teachers.
“Students want to know if they’re right before they move to the next step. With NoRedInk, they know immediately if they’re on the right track. This gives them the confidence to move forward so they can progress faster,” said Loyd.
Building stronger writers
Wylie ISD teachers guide students through the writing and revision process using several of NoRedInk’s writing features, including Quick Writes, Guided Drafts, Self Review, and Peer Review.
“Once students have mastered the practice, they immediately go to a written assignment to apply and reinforce those skills,” said Loyd.
“NoRedInk is helping us build stronger writers,” said Ault. “Before, when students would do assignments on paper, teachers would take them home, grade them, and get them back to students, but by then they had moved on to something else. With NoRedInk, students get immediate feedback, and the teacher can spend time with students who are struggling the most. This takes stress off of students because they know they’ll get the help they need. That’s why we’ve seen growth on the STAAR.”
Aligning instruction with standards
NoRedInk’s standards filters allow Wylie ISD teachers to align their instruction with the TEKS. “NoRedInk helps students prepare for the STAAR end-of-course assessments in English. It helps them with composition, revision, and editing,” said Ault.
“It also builds and reinforces the skills that will benefit them on the SAT and ACT,” said Loyd.
Improving performance on STAAR end-of-course (EOC) assessment for English I
Since Wylie ISD implemented NoRedInk in 2017, students have achieved measurable gains on the STAAR EOC assessment for English I (see Appendix A).
Gains for all students
“On the STAAR end-of-course assessment for English I, all students’ scores—especially in our special programs—grew tremendously in the first two years of using NoRedInk. The number of students going from ‘Did Not Meet’ to ‘Meets’ or ‘Masters Grade Level’ exceeded our expectations,” said Loyd.
“In 2017, our average percent score for all students was almost 70 percent, with around 75 percent of students at ‘Approaches Grade Level.’ In 2018, after the first year of implementing NoRedInk, our average percent score was almost 73 percent, with over 81 percent of students at ‘Approaches Grade Level,’ almost 70 percent at ‘Meets,’ and over 14 percent at ‘Masters.’ In 2019, not only did our student population grow by 124 students, but more students scored at ‘Approaches’ and ‘Meets,’ and we almost doubled the number of students at ‘Masters Grade Level,’” she continued.
Gains for economically disadvantaged students
From 2018 to 2019, the number of economically disadvantaged students at “Masters Grade Level” more than doubled—jumping from 5.38 percent to 12.71 percent in just one year.
Gains for limited English proficient students
The number of LEP students at “Approaches Grade Level” increased by more than 50 percent, rising from 26.76 percent in 2018 to 40.59 percent in 2019. The percentage of LEP students at “Meets Grade Level” also grew from 12.68 percent to 16.83 percent.
Gains for students with disabilities
The number of students with disabilities at “Approaches Grade Level” increased by 20 percent, rising from 29.59 percent in 2018 to 35.54 percent in 2019. In addition, the percentage of students with disabilities at “Masters Grade Level” rose from 16.33 percent to 19.83 percent.
Increasing STAAR English I Written Composition ratings
Wylie ISD students achieved significant gains on the Written Composition component of the STAAR EOC assessment for English I (see Appendix B).
“Students’ writing scores have shown the most growth over the past two years, especially with our English language learners and students with disabilities,” said Loyd. “A lower number of students are scoring 0 to 4 on their essays and a higher number are scoring 5 to 8. They are not only able to edit and revise their writing, but they are writing at higher levels because of NoRedInk.”
Achieving growth on STAAR EOC assessment for English II
“We saw similar growth in English II,” said Loyd. “While the class of 2021 began their freshman year an average of 12 points behind the class before them, that gap was closed to less than one point by the end of their sophomore year. These students were the first to use NoRedInk both years. This proves the impact NoRedInk can have on all students with the right implementation. Students’ writing skills grew exponentially, and the students who saw the most improvement in English II were students with disabilities.”
Creating a successful partnership
“We’re now in year three of our implementation,” said Davis. “The folks at NoRedInk are good people. They’re very responsive and helpful. They’ve always been a good partner for us.”