AKS-CQI model supports all students, helps close gaps

AKS-CQI model supports all students, helps close gaps

A student’s K–12 education is a little like a skyscraper. Knowledge and skills mastered in early grades make up the foundation. Let’s say the penthouse is the student’s highest academic potential. But how does the “construction crew” help a student build from the ground floor to their highest potential? How about… an architect’s vision, a blueprint and working plans, top-flight personnel, a solid start, regular reviews of the “building specs,” and changes or enhancements to the plans, if needed.

The eight steps of the AKS-CQI model
In an eight-step approach, teachers and administrators at a school work together to make plans, look for areas that need adjustment, reinforce and enhance skills, and use goodresearch for decisionmaking. Here are the eight research-based instructional steps included in the
AKS-CQI model, which school teams follow by grade level or by subject area:

1. Data Analysis: Analyze data for strengths and weaknesses.
2. Calendar Development: Develop a yearlong calendar, targeting weakest areas.
3. AKS Target Time: Teach short, daily intensive lessons on the target AKS, following the calendar.
4. Assessment: Administer short tests on the target AKS.
5. Intervention: Provide immediate reteaching of the AKS that wasn’t mastered, or
6. Extension: Provide immediate enrichment for students who mastered the AKS.
7. Maintenance: Review and reteach targeted AKS throughout the year.
8. Monitoring: Meet regularly as teachers and administrators to discuss student progress on target AKS and needed instructional changes to help students learn.
That’s a pretty good description of Gwinnett County Public Schools’ efforts toward closing the achievement gap on its way to becoming a system of world-class schools. And the Academic Knowledge and Skills-Continuous Quality Improvement (AKS-CQI) Model can be an important tool for the “crews” of educators and administrators around GCPS, dedicated to helping all students reach their academic potential.

Putting it all together at the local school
Bethesda ES is one of several Title I schools to fully implement the AKS-CQI model in all grades, focusing on mathematics and language arts. Bethesda teachers say the model helps students become more flexible learners as they adapt to different teachers and teaching styles during enrichment and reteaching activities, and the model encourages teacher flexibility as well as they revise, revisit, and reflect on the curriculum and targeted AKS. Principal Nancy Morrison says the school continues to meet adequate yearly progress (AYP) goals while extending areas of strength. “At Bethesda ES, implementation of the AKS-CQI model has brought a clear focus and vision of the academic goals our students need to achieve to be successful learners,” says Ms. Morrison. “Analyzing data to identify strengths and weaknesses in the core areas of instruction provides valuable insight to staff members as they collaborate to prioritize curriculum and focus on lessons designed to close the achievement gap.”

For Summerour MS, another Title I school, all teachers are involved in implementing the AKS-CQI model in all grades, focusing on mathematics and language arts. Content-area teachers, as well as connection teachers, are assigned a group of students. Each week the students are given a mini-assessment to determine their progress on the AKS. Students are then assigned to either an intervention or an enrichment class. Principal Dana Pugh says, “Implementing this model gives the school a common focus, helps the students set academic goals, and allows teachers to work collaboratively on improving student performance.”

At South Gwinnett HS, a monthly AKS-CQI Study Day gives teachers of the same course— say, all the Algebra I teachers or all of the World History teachers— an opportunity for common planning time. With the busy calendar of a typical high school, it can be hard for colleagues to plan together, says Principal Berry Simmons. “Using the model, our teachers have a set time to collaborate, working together on improving student achievement.” Common assessments and mid-term exams focus on students’ grasp of content material. In 2003–04, South Gwinnett HS implemented the model for math courses and has seen improved achievement across the board. This year, science and social studies teachers are using the AKS-CQI steps and are looking to Gateway and graduation test results to affirm their work. Language arts will implement AKS-CQI in 2005–06.
"The AKS-CQI model gives us a framework for instruction. The model is all about good instruction, collaboration, pinpointing strengths and weaknesses, and focusing instructional time and strategies accordingly."

--Carolyn Coleman, coordinator of AKS Continuous Improvement

AKS-CQI support offered
At the system level, a broad range of activities and resources support schools using the AKS-CQI model. The AKS-Continuous Improvement Office, working with the curriculum offices, provides grade- and subject-specific resources online in intranet databases, including Model Instructional Calendars, Model Target Calendars, and mini-assessments tied to the AKS in the target calendars. Other resources include Model Lesson Plans and Models of Interventions and Extensions Lesson Plans.

“One misconception is that the AKS-CQI model only addresses the needs of students weak in the targeted areas,” says Tricia Kennedy, executive director for Curriculum and Instruction. “In reality, the model not only focuses on closing the achievement gap for students who need intervention, but also provides adjustment of instruction for students who excel academically, providing them with a deeper and expanded understanding of grade-level concepts. It’s a framework for instruction that can be used for any school, any student, to improve student learning.”

And so, layer after layer of learning is laid down as educators help children build upon their academic successes or lay a firmer foundation with targeted AKS. Student learning needs are reframed as instructional plans are checked and rechecked against expectations. With hard work, committed staff, and focus, Gwinnett schools use the AKS-CQI model to prepare students to reach their potential and that top-floor educational experience.