Montana’s Wolf Point Students Get Results


July 10, 2013


Female student writing at her desk

Results just in from the Wolf Point School District in Montana show that Education Northwest’s technical assistance is helping to make a difference in improving student outcomes. The number of junior high students scoring below proficiency on the state assessment went down substantially during the time Education Northwest staff worked with Wolf Point teachers and administrators.

When 2011 data indicated a 76 percent “below-proficient” rate in mathematics for Wolf Point junior high school students on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation, the district turned to Education Northwest for classroom coaching for teachers and training for principals to help support effective instruction and student learning.

Our goal has been to shift the focus toward deliberately choosing what to teach based on the significance of the topic to the grade level and current student understanding and to make intentional efforts to develop relationships with students.
- Education Northwest’s Julie Peck

In a series of learning sessions with staff over the last two years, Peck has emphasized strategies to improve classroom discourse between students and between the class and the teacher to uncover student misunderstandings.

Data show that this assistance is paying off with students making remarkable progress. Over the two-year period (2011–2013), the overall percentage of seventh-graders scoring “novice” (below proficiency) on the Montana State Assessment went from 52 to 25 percent and the number of American Indian (AI) students scoring “novice” was reduced from 57 to 26 percent. In eighth grade, “novice” scores went from 42 to 30 percent overall and 50 to 33 percent for AI students. Also significant is the increase of seventh-graders scoring proficient or advanced: from 27 to 36 percent overall and 23 to 35 percent for AI students.

Wolf Point leaders realized that training in the 6+1 Trait® Model of Instruction & Assessment could also contribute to improved student proficiency while preparing students to meet the Common Core State Standards. The internationally renowned traits framework, which Education Northwest pioneered almost 30 years ago, provides a common language for teachers and students to communicate about the characteristics of writing and establishes a clear vision of what good writing looks like across multiple subjects. “We’ve made efforts to connect the emphasis on quality writing in mathematics with effective mathematics instruction,” Peck says.

Megan Helmer, a seventh-grade math teacher at Wolf Point, said she appreciated our hands-on approach to classroom coaching. “Julie spent a great deal of time in my classes helping individual students, modeling lessons, and observing” commented Helmer. “She has supplied me with limitless knowledge and resources applicable to my classes.”

Learn how we can help your school or district improve mathematics teaching and learning, increase writing proficiency across content areas, and prepare for the rigors of the Common Core.