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MetaMetrics State Partner Showcase: Alabama Department of Education

alabamaachieves.org

  • Number of students: 734,559
  • Number of teachers: 46,942
  • Number of school districts: 143
  • Number of schools: 1,474

Beginning with the spring 2021 administration of the Alabama Comprehensive Assessment Program (ACAP), the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) provided MetaMetrics’ Lexile® and Quantile® measures on individual student reports. ALSDE leaders knew prior to the statewide reporting of these measures that they had work ahead of them to ensure they are used effectively to help teachers, students and their families. As Assistant State Superintendent of Education for Student Learning Elisabeth David, Ed.D., said, “While the words Lexile and Quantile are not typically used in everyday conversations, we knew that we would need to provide some consistent communication and support to help make the connection to the use of the resources aligned to these scores.”

Continuing, she said, “What immediately captured my attention about reporting Lexile and Quantile scores was the wide variety of resources available to educators, students and families to support student learning through individualized tools based on the student’s Lexile and Quantile score. To make this opportunity become a reality, we needed a thoughtful implementation process to ensure that they were integrated into student learning environments and easily accessible. We also needed to make sure that all students and educators in Alabama had access to these resources, which made the statewide implementation a necessity.”

“When we began to roll out Lexile and Quantile measures, we first trained staff at the state level and then all of our regional support staff, including our regional in-service center directors. This allowed them to immediately begin to share what they had learned with district leadership and building-level teachers through job-embedded supports and training opportunities.”

Alabama has 11 regional in-service centers throughout the state, representing partnerships between K-12, higher education and ALSDE.

Bonnie Short, coordinator of the department’s Alabama Reading Initiative, emphasized the importance of this approach, “With any big rollout, we start with the state department specialists and the regional staff. If we can equip our regional staff who are working directly with building-based people, it helps so much because we can’t reach all schools at one time.”

 

"When we trained the state and regional in-service center staff, we were careful to emphasize that this is not a program. Lexile and Quantile measures are tools that are going to meet needs at many different levels for parents, students and teachers and with the career database on the Lexile and Quantile Hub, they have a direct connection to college and career readiness.”

—Assistant State Superintendent of Education for Student Learning Elisabeth David, Ed.D.

Sandy Ledwell, coordinator of the Alabama Math, Science and Technology Initiative, said, “While many of our regional staff were familiar with Lexiles, there was a bigger learning curve for Quantiles. The Lexile & Quantile Hub was so valuable for us because it aligns with standards and suggests activities and resources for using the measures. We also see great value in sharing the tools and resources on the Hub with families in the future.”

Alabama’s rollout of Lexile and Quantile measures wasn’t without challenges. They started their training for regional in-service center staff in March 2020, just as in-person learning abruptly ended. As Ledwell said, “We had planned face-to-face training in schools and districts, but then came the interruption of COVID-19. The good news was that we already had schools using Lexile and Quantile measures from classroom assessments so that leveled the playing field for us in some instances. However, we probably need to think about refresher training now.”

However, overall, the ALSDE team believes that they are off to a great start and that using Lexile and Quantile measures across the state supports their model of providing districts with a common language, free access to high-quality resources and training opportunities that align to their district-specific programs and initiatives.

Short said, “We help teachers  ‘unpack’ and teach the Alabama Course of Study standards and we are curriculum agnostic when we do that. We need to help teachers use what the district has provided and diagnose where that curriculum has gaps and find ways to fill those gaps when they find them. Lexile and Quantile measures really support us in that strategy.”

Davis concurred, “When I was a superintendent, we met with every single teacher at one of my schools to discover what was working, what was not working and what they needed to teach our state standards. I knew that if we weren’t putting high quality resources aligned to standards in the hands of teachers, we weren’t doing our jobs. However, as a state department of education, we are hands off with districts when it comes to prescribing curricula, selecting individual vendors, etc. We don’t endorse products and services. But what is so powerful about Lexile and Quantile measures is that it is almost a backwards approach. We provide districts with the scores and they look for products that help make those scores beneficial for supporting teaching and learning for each and every student across the state, no matter what zip code or school district they attend. The resources we provide to teachers, students and families support reading and math readiness, as well teaching and learning aligned to student readiness for college and careers.”

She concluded, “In simple terms, we are providing Alabama educators and families with a comprehensive set of resources to help in the classroom and at home at the click of a button and at no cost to the school, the district, or the family.”

This MetaMetrics and Alabama Case Study is also available to download and share as a pdf.

Next stop, Oklahoma

How do Lexile and Quantile measures support Alabama's year-round efforts?

The Alabama Summer Learning Challenge raises awareness of the summer learning loss epidemic and provides access to a variety of free resources, such as the Lexile Find a Book and Quantile Summer Math Challenge tools.

Learn More