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PERFORMANCE PYRAMID AND OHIO GRADUATION TEST PREPARATION

Practical Application of the Performance Pyramid for Teachers Preparing Students for the Ohio Graduation Tests in Urban Charter Schools Tonya K. Schauwecker Purdue University

PERFORMANCE PYRAMID AND OHIO GRADUATION TEST PREPARATION

Abstract This paper will apply Wedman and Grahams (2009) Performance Pyramid to students taking the 10th grade portion of the Ohio Graduation Test (OGTs). The effort is to provide teachers with solid examples of ways to improve performance on the OGTs in students attending schools with limited resources such as funding, technology, and classroom materials. The Performance Pyramid is a practical tool used most often by corporate organizations to facilitate change in company performance and is, based on the belief that, in order to accomplish something of significance, three factors must be in place: Vision, Resources, and Support System (Wedman sect.1 pg.2). Because charter schools must perform at a high level in order to meet State Indicators (OGT scores), Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP, progress for students in special populations), and Performance Index (weighted measure of achievement) and because many charter schools operate in areas of lower income status with limited resources, they often operate in the same manner as corporate organizations, thus needing to improve the performance of students and teachers. Keywords: Performance Pyramid, Human Performance Improvement (HPI), Ohio Graduation Test (OGTs), Charter Schools, Urban Schools

PERFORMANCE PYRAMID AND OHIO GRADUATION TEST PREPARATION

Practical Application of the Performance Pyramid for Teachers Preparing Students for the Ohio Graduation Tests in Urban Charter Schools The Ohio Graduation Tests (OGTs) were mandated as an assessment tool by the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) in 2001 and became a requirement in 2007. According to the Ohio Department of Education website, the Ohio Graduation Tests are, assessments aligned to Ohios Academic Content Standards in reading, mathematics, science, social studies and writing that students in high school must take to demonstrate proficiency before graduation from high school (ODE.state.oh.us/testing). In order for a student to pass, they must achieve a 400 on each section. In order for a school to meet the State Indicators, 75% of the students must reach the 400 point mark in each subject. OGT scores earned by 10th grade students, combined with Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) and Performance Index scores, designate a schools rating, which determine whether a school is effective enough to stay open or if it should close due to complete ineffectiveness. While most schools are grades P-12, many charter schools in Ohio are only grades 9-12, leaving one class of students (10th grade) to determine ratings through testing and one grade (12th grade) to determine graduation rates (AYP). Dr. John Wedman of the University of Missouri developed the Performance Pyramid (2010), as a systematic approach to improving overall performance in individuals in organizations. Wedman claims that in order for an organization to achieve performance advancement, it must have, vision, resources, and [a] support system (Wedman 1-2). Wedmans Performance Pyramid is a viable solution to the chaotic, stressful preparation schools undertake in order to prepare students for the high stakes standardized tests because it gives practical application examples to administrators and teachers, thereby lowering the chance that a

PERFORMANCE PYRAMID AND OHIO GRADUATION TEST PREPARATION

teacher will act unethically in order to achieve higher test scores and a charter school will have to close due to repeated academic emergency status. High Stakes Testing and Charter Schools For charter schools, the significance of improved performance on state and federally mandated high stakes standardized tests is far greater than that of public schools. Students, teachers, and administrators are held to a higher degree of accountability than in public schools. If a charter school does not meet Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) or does not reach the required designation (the minimum in Ohio is Academic Watch) by the Ohio Department of Education, that school can, and often does, lose its charter, forcing students and parents to find alternative schools or return to the public school system. In July 2011, the Ohio Revised Code changed the closure regulations for public charter schools. If a school that teaches grades ten through twelve receives a state designation of academic emergency two out of three years, the school will automatically close at the end of the school year in which it receives the designation for the second time (Klupinski, pg. 13). The state of Ohio combines multiple factors to give a school its designation rating, including OGT scores (State Indicators), Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) scores, and Value Added measures. If a student does not reach the 400 point minimum on the all five tests of the OGTs, they must continue taking the missed portions until they reach the 400 point mark or they do not graduate. Students have six chances to pass all five portions. In the event that a student faces not graduating because they did not pass a portion of the test, they can take advantage of alternative pathways, but the school still faces the penalties from a student not passing (A Guide to the Ohio Graduation Tests for Students and Families 2011). These demanding requirements have driven many schools, teachers, administrators, and

PERFORMANCE PYRAMID AND OHIO GRADUATION TEST PREPARATION

students to cheating on the standardized tests. A study by Amrein and Berliner (2002) found that the introduction of high stakes testing regimes was associated, in some cases, with increased student drop-out rates, inappropriate test preparation practices (up to and including cheating), and decreased teacher morale, leading to increased teacher defection from the profession. After officials discovered city-wide cheating in Atlanta Public Schools, The Atlanta JournalConstitution conducted an investigation of, 69,000 public schoolsand found high concentrations of suspect math or reading scores in school systems from coast to coast (2012). Cheating scandals such as these are the result of pressure placed upon individuals to perform at the state required minimum, pressures that would be alleviated with solid motivational and applicable performance enhancement tools such as the Performance Pyramid. The Performance Pyramid is illustrated in Figure 1

PERFORMANCE PYRAMID AND OHIO GRADUATION TEST PREPARATION

Charter School Environment, Teacher, and Student Perspectives: Identifying the Need for Application of the Performance Pyramid Because the Performance Pyramid was first constructed for corporations and not schools, it is important to clarify the organizational structure and atmosphere of urban charter schools in order to highlight the similarities in operation among these two identities as they relate to the Performance Pyramid. Corporations, parents, teachers, activists, or any person who feels they can make a school has the ability to open a charter school in the United States. These people are education reformers who champion change in the education system by opening charter schools. The corporation opens schools in a variety of settings, but most are in urban areas where the public school system has failed many students and parents are looking for change. Because charters (to be sure, charters are not the same as private schools that charge tuition; charters are tuition free schools) are not-for-profit, many operate in sub-standard buildings with outdated materials and little to no technological advances. In the film, Waiting for Superman (2010), charter school buildings and resources were compared to public schools less than five miles apart. Where public schools had indoor swimming pools and Smartboards, charter schools had holes in the ceiling and moldy drinking fountains. In addition to the lack of proper buildings, charter schools often lack basic teaching materials such as textbooks for every student. A popular charter high school in Toledo, Ohio does not purchase textbooks for every student. Instead, students in class share one text between three students or the teacher can choose not to use the text altogether. Because this charter school focuses mainly on math and science, the teachers in those departments have Starboards,

PERFORMANCE PYRAMID AND OHIO GRADUATION TEST PREPARATION

but still must create their own materials from gathered information from old textbooks or the Internet. Students at the charter school often compare their school to public schools in the same city district. Instead of having pride in their school, wearing school spirit t-shirts and having friendly arguments about which team is going to beat the other team at Friday nights football game, the students often support the public high school in their neighborhood. This lack of school pride and spirit can lead to a lack of motivation in the students to perform well in school and on standardized tests. Additionally, teachers become disgruntled and cynical regarding the everyday operations of the school and the capabilities of the students. When teachers are not provided with the basic necessities for educating a population of resentful, low-economic status students, they too lose motivation to perform at their best. Lacking adequate materials or seeing some departments favored over others causes stress and an unhealthy working environment. Applying the Pyramid As stated earlier, the Performance Pyramid works if the three most important parts of an organization work together: vision, resources, and support system. Within the support system are six facets that must be present, though do not have to operate in a hierarchy or particular order. These six facets are part of the Organizational Culture: Knowledge & Skill; Performance Capability; Motivation, Values, & Self Concept; Tools, Environment, & Processes; Expectation & Feedback; and Rewards, Recognition, & Incentives In addition, it is important to note that nothing from the Performance Pyramid works in a linear fashion. Many of the components will work simultaneously or a very different times. The process allows for quick assessment and change as well as long term assessment and change. In

PERFORMANCE PYRAMID AND OHIO GRADUATION TEST PREPARATION

the case of this application, use of the Performance Pyramid should take place at the beginning of the school year; however, it can also be applied later in the year as a rejuvenating effort to motivate teachers and students to success after a very long year of preparation. Vision, Mission, and Objectives Applying the HPI vision as part of the Performance Pyramid to charter schools operating methods and teacher goals will give teachers and administrators a clear and concise understanding of what their mission is, thereby facilitating improvement. Park and Ertmers study (2008) regarding application of Project Based Learning (PBL) in middle school classrooms found that there was often a discrepancy between what the teachers and the administrators believed the schools mission and the projects vision statement was, Interview data suggested that disparate visions among stakeholders was a major barrier to the effective implementation of PBL in this study (p. 9). The findings of this study are not different of the findings in any school or organizational setting, thus the need for simplified vision or mission statements that are clearly defined and ingrained into the organization strategies. With a more defined mission statement, students, parents, teachers, and administrators can work towards the goal of improving learning thereby also improving test scores. When a mission statement or schools vision is overly complicated, the core value of any school (to educate) is lost. For example, an Illinois schools mission statement available on the schools website is: The multi-ethnic community, parents, business partners, administrators, students, and staff work together to create an academic, physical, emotional, social, and safe environment where everyone can learn and respect one another.

PERFORMANCE PYRAMID AND OHIO GRADUATION TEST PREPARATION

We care about ourselves and others to create, support and maintain powerful, engaged learning in the Arts and Sciences. We dare to use innovative techniques to enhance life long [sic] learning through technology, the multiple intelligences, varied instructional strategies, and interdisciplinary units. We share our cultural backgrounds to nurture growth, responsibility, and productivity by celebrating our diversity within a positive school-wide atmosphere and by promoting sportsmanship, school spirit, and pride in ourselves through our daily studies and our educational accomplishments (Schools.wps60.org). However, the superintendents mission statement is entirely different: Educating students for the world of tomorrow is our top priority. Through mobilization of the entire community, we will challenge, teach and inspire our students. We will provide the resources to serve each of our students, expecting excellence from all involved. We will deliver an exciting education in a safe learning environment that celebrates our diversity and similarities in a spirit of unity and respect (Wps60.org/wpsd60). For example, a more streamlined mission statement that summarizes both mission statements could be: To instill a love of learning in students with solid problem solving skills that will enhance their lives and those around them now and into adulthood. Shortening or consolidating the above mission statements gives teachers and students a better understanding of what their roles are. The teachers will understand that they are to show students how enjoyable learning can be and to teach problem solving skills. Students understand that they are to enjoy learning and apply problem solving skills now and as adults in the greater community. They are

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supposed to learn how to keep learning and how to problem solve. These values will encompass many of the assets needed as adults and community members. In accord with the Park and Ertmer study and a major component of The Performance Pyramid, a schools clear and concise mission statement should be displayed prominently throughout the school so students and teachers can see what their mission is. Moreover, it should be repeated throughout the year during announcements, and printed on posters for display in classrooms. By doing this, all members of the school community will know what they are there to accomplish. In addition to the schools mission statement, it must also have clear objectives for teachers and students to follow. A charter schools main objective for 10th graders is to achieve 75% passing on the Ohio Graduation Tests. This is a clear objective with a measurable outcome for the school as a whole. Students also have a clear and measurable objective achieve a 400 or better on each portion of the OGTs. Furthermore, teachers should post the performance ranges in their classrooms to remind students of the score objective on a daily basis and give students a clear and defined goal for the tests. Telling students that they need to pass is not clearly defined. Instead, posters that exclaim, Get that 425! will encourage students with concrete goals. Resources Years of debate on the subject of whether or not funding and resources affect student achievement abound. From Resource Allocation to Improve Student Achievement (2004), one of the most important studies on resources and student achievement was conducted by Hedges, Laine and Greenwald, which concluded that the relationship between resource inputs and student outcomes was consistent, positive and further, could be used to frame educational policy. With

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the studys findings, and the research behind the Performance Pyramid saying that resources are an important part of success, schools must provide students and teachers with relevant resources. In order for a school to adequately prepare students for the OGTs, the resources should enhance student learning, productivity, engagement, and success. The OGT preparation resources available to schools and families range from costly computer software such as Study Island (an online Electronic Performance Support System) to free-to-print workbooks from the Ohio Department of Education website. Many schools use Study Island as an interactive study guide. Students are able to play games, take practice tests, and view or read tutorials based on their individual need. Teachers can see how long a student spent on each test section, how many ribbons a student achieved, and figure a students probability for OGT success. Study Island costs a school $49 per student for one grade level of preparation. Schools can also purchase district or school licenses that allow students to use the software throughout their education. The cost for licenses depends on the size of the school and the number of students (StudyIsland.com/help) In addition to software, there are a plethora of free guides and workbooks available throughout the Internet. These free printables usually focus on one subject from the OGTs and are often teacher created. The Ohio Department of Education has created a workbook for families to help students prepare before taking the tests and another for what to do if a student has not passed a portion of the tests. Various educational publishing and tutoring companies have created workbooks in all subject areas that schools or families can purchase through bookstores or online. According to Wedman & Graham (2010), while resources are drained to supply the organizational culture, the significant accomplishments of the organization will replenish the

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resources after attainment (http://needsassessment.missouri.edu). Schools therefore should allocate a significant amount of funding to purchase workbooks and software for test preparation. Teachers must take full advantage of free, online materials available to them, as well. In order to apply the Performance Pyramid, schools and teachers could choose to complete a number of options. For instance, if a school has purchased a Study Island license, teachers should request computer lab time at least once per week for students to practice weak areas. Teachers can offer extra credit, homework, or test grades for ribbon completion. Additionally, teachers should procure OGT preparation workbooks as an additional tool for classroom instruction. Choose one day of the week to practice a chapter or section and grade the sections so students can realize weak areas. Organizational Culture In order to create a culture of learning that will motivate students toward the significant accomplishment (passing the OGTs), teachers must apply and understand the six facets of the Organizational Culture. While the six facets do not need to happen in order or based on a hierarchy, the must all be present at the same time. Knowledge & Skill Teachers must teach the skills necessary for test success. These skills include test taking strategies and content area knowledge. In addition, there is foundational knowledge that students must have. The Ohio Department of Education has created a list of Performance Verbs that all students must understand and be able to apply in order to achieve success on all five subjects of the OGTs. At the beginning of the school year, teachers should break students into groups to define, in their own words, each of the performance verbs. After completing definitions, teachers should

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read the actual definitions to see if they match. Teachers can then instruct students to create visually appealing posters of the performance verbs to hang throughout the school, especially in every classroom. Teachers of all subjects should use the verbs to create short-answer and extended response questions on formative and summative assessments thereby helping to reinforce the knowledge into students long-term memory stores. Teachers should also begin practicing the foundations of each subject. The test does not change; the same foundations of each subject are on the test year after year. Wording changes, stories change, writing prompts change, but what is being asked does not change. For example, in English / Language Arts, teachers should review the five-paragraph essay, different types of essays, and figurative language devices, as these are always part of the Reading and Writing portions. Math teachers should not review basic functions, but instead instruct students on how to combine basic functions (pemdas and foil), a major component of the Math OGT. Science teachers must show students how to read every form of graph (bar, circle, line, 2-dimentional representations) and be sure students know the stages of cell division and what happens in various types of weather. Social Studies teachers need to show students how to apply terminology to United States current structures and the after effects of major world events. For example, teach students about the types of government structures because there will be a question where students will have to read about a government structure and then be able to identify which structure is taking place. Performance Capability Students need to be assessed early in the year to determine what knowledge sets need developing. If a student is in a particular situation where they have an Individual Education Program (IEP), they may lack certain skills or knowledge that will hinder their ability to perform

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well on the tests. Early assessment will let teachers know which skills individual students need help with, and which knowledge bases need addressed. Teachers should download, copy, and administer a released test from the ODE website available at: http://goo.gl/VfY0W (short url). For teachers with limited copying abilities, transferring test questions to overhead transparency sheets for projectors will work as well. Each of the released test materials include an answer guide and short-answer / extended response guide. Tools, Environment, & Processes The testing environment is a stringent, no-room-for-error box of stress. While it is not practical, nor advantageous, to run a classroom as if it were an OGT testing environment every day, it is important for students to feel comfortable with the tools, environment, and processes of testing day. Students should take multiple choice, short-answer, and extended response tests on a regular basis to familiarize them with the testing format. The more they are exposed to the testing environment, the more comfortable they will be during the real OGTs. Math and Science teachers should utilize the OGT calculators with practice test questions so students know the different functions and do not have to worry about simple calculator skills. Testing environments and procedures should be followed for all formative assessments throughout the year, with the formative assessments mirroring questions on the OGTs. Expectation & Feedback The expectation and feedback portion of the Performance Pyramid works with the vision, mission, and objectives portion. Students need to know what they are expected to learn with daily objectives clearly printed either on the board or on a sheet of paper. The objectives should

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be measurable with direct and timely feedback so they can track their progress. Students who do not know how well they are performing on certain tasks may put forth little effort in future tasks until they are sure of their earlier performances. At the beginning of class, teachers should explain that students are taking a portion of a practice test and that the expectation is for all students to act as if they are in a real testing environment. Upon completion of the practice test, teachers should grade tests out loud as a class so that students can ask questions and receive clarification on misconceptions. Students can be graded on participation and behavior instead of knowing the answers. Work through the questions so students know why each choice was or was not correct. Motivation, Values, & Self Concept In an urban setting, students do not always value education. Their parents may want them to succeed, but the realities of urban life often take over dreams for the future. Students become disgruntled quickly when they see other schools in close proximity with better facilities, better sports teams, better opportunity. This can lead to a lack of motivation and a poor selfconcept. In order for students to have internal motivation to perform well on the OGTs, thereby allowing them to successfully graduate from high school, they must come to the realization that they deserve and are capable of achievements beyond their urban, charter school setting. Teachers should highlight student achievement through summative assessments that give instant feedback. Asking students lower level questions with guaranteed correct answers will improve a students self-concept and motivate them intrinsically to perform well. Additionally, students who enjoy competition would do well by seeing their achievements posted in the classroom. For instance an OGT Leader Board poster with the names of students who scored the best out of a

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class would not only improve their value of learning and self-concept, but also increase entire class motivation to appear on the board. A student does not even have to pass the assessment, only perform better than others. Rewards, Recognition, & Incentives Students and teachers alike deserve recognition for achievements. Teachers at a charter school in Toledo, Ohio are paid a $1,000 bonus if their students achieve the 75% passing mark. While these external rewards are an added bonus to performing well, they should not take the place of instilling internal motivation values. Incentives such as special shirts, amusement park tickets, bonus points for core classes, uniform policy pass days, school parties, success bulletin boards, and other rewards and incentives should be offered to students and teachers for their hard work, although these motivational rewards should not outweigh the real reward of graduating with a diploma and having the ability to attend college or obtain a better paying job in the future. Significant Accomplishments The final stage of the Performance Pyramid is for the intended parties to achieve the intended significant accomplishments. In the case of the Ohio Graduation Tests, six weeks after the March testing date, students and school officials will know if the significant accomplishment was met. If 75% of students passed all five portions of the OGTs, the resources will be replenished, the rewards and incentives handed out, and the school will remain open for another year. Conclusion Application of the Performance Pyramid to urban charter school students taking the Ohio Graduation Test is not a perfect solution to testing needs. It will work because teachers can use

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the Pyramid as a starting ground - a working, moving process that transfers back and forth to come to a final end OGT success. What cannot change though is the availability of proper resources and a mission that is coherent and concise. If everyone knows what they are working for, the means to achieve that end can be found with a little ingenuity and thoughtfulness.

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References Barrier-Ferreira, J. (2008). Producing Commodities or Educating Children? Nurturing the Personal Growth of Students in the Face of Standardized Testing. Clearing House, 81(3), 138-140 Batiste, R.D., District Mission and Goals. (n.d.). Retrieved from: http://wps60.org/wpsd60/mission.php Dessoff, Alan (2011, April 04). High Stakes Cheating. District Administration, April 2011. Retrieved from http://www.districtadministration.com/article/high-stakes-cheating Finn, Chester E., Jr.; Manno, Bruno V.; Vanourek, Gregg. Charter Schools in Action : Renewing Public Education. Ewing, NJ, USA: Princeton University Press, 2000. p 15 Gray-Akyea, Stacey (2005, May). Resource Allocation to Improve Student Achievement. Saint Paul Public Schools. Retrieved from http://datacenter.spps.org/sites/2259653e-ffb3-45ba8fd6-04a024ecf7a4/uploads/Resource_Allocation_Issue_Brief__May_2005_.pdf Klupinski, S. (2012). The Ohio Charter Law Book. (p. 13). Columbus, OH: Retrieved from http://www.oapcs.org/files/u115/OAPCS_CLawGB_FINAL.pdf No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001, Pub. L. No. 107-110, 115, Stat. 1425 (2002). OGT Workbook (2004). Ohio Department of Education. Ohio Statewide Testing OGT Student Support. Manual download available at: http://ims.ode.state.oh.us/ODE/IMS/Assessment/ogt_workbook.asp Park, S. H., & Ertmer, P. A. (2008). Examining barriers in technology-enhanced problem-based learning: Using a performance support systems approach. British Journal of Educational Technology, 39(4), 631-643.

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Perry, J., Vogell, H., Judd, A., Pell, M.B. (2012, March 27). Cheating our children: Suspicious school test scores across the nation. Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved from http://www.ajc.com/news/news/cheating-our-children-suspicious-school-test-sco1/nQSTS/ Reiser, Robert A. & Dempsey, John V. (20012). Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology (3rd ed.). Boston, MA. Pearson Education, Inc. School Mission. Robert Abbott Middle School. (n.d.) Retrieved from: http://schools.wps60.org/abbott/mission.html Skoll, J. and Weyermann, D. (Producers), & Guggenheim, D. (Director). (2010). Waiting for Superman [Motion Picture]. United States: Paramount Vantage. Study Island. (n.d.). Retrieved from: http://studyisland.com/info University of Missouri. (2012) [Graphic illustration of the Performance Pyramid] Exploring the Performance Pyramid. Retrieved from: http://needsassessment.missouri.edu/ Wedman, John. (2010). Performance Pyramid: Needs Assessment Made Simple. Pdf. Manual download request available at http://needsassessment.missouri.edu/index.php.