Superintendent’s Message: Community District 29


In an effort to close the achievement gap and to improve the instructional supports for English Language Learners (ENLs), Community School District 29 has been working in partnership with the Queens South Field Support Center (QSFSC) in an initiative to raise achievement for our English Language Learners. After reviewing the district ELL data with the QFSC, the leadership team brainstormed varied steps to improve the instruction for English Language Learners. Using Tony Frontier’s Five Levers to Improve Learning: How to Prioritize for Powerful Results, district leadership and the ELL Division at the QFSC plotted a series of steps to help advance the academic achievement of ELLs.  The following foci areas were established:

  1. Cross accountability and support between District 29 Superintendency and ENL Division at QFSC
  2. Adherence to Commissioner’s Regulations CR Part 154.2
  3. Use of data to progress monitor student linguistic and literacy development
  4. Instructional coherence and continuity
  5. Funding and resource use of ELL Supplemental Programs

The District selected Imagine Learning as a partner to provide supplemental literacy and language supports with assessment and instructional tools for all ENLs in our district.   As a result, every school in District 29 is currently using Imagine Learning to assist the work of our educators in this collaborative process.

Through strategic and collaborative professional development (PD) in partnership with the QSFSC, District 29 has provided resources and targeted professional development opportunities for our ENL teachers to employ instructional strategies from the works of Lily Wong Fillmore, Nonie Lesaux and Aida Walqui.  The goal of these sessions is to support stakeholders in utilizing and triangulating data to strengthen their core instruction.  The ultimate goal is the transference and use of data to plan purposeful individualized or small group instruction during the stand alone ENL block.

With the use of the Imagine Learning program, District 29 has launched initial trainings and administered a baseline beginning of the Year (BOY) Benchmark so initial data could be established for all ELLs in our district.  After reviewing the data, continuous professional development was conducted in collaboration with the QSFSC and Imagine Learning to build best practices and instructional strategies founded on research principles tailored to the needs of ELLs.  Building academic language, using tools to support composite competencies necessary for student success in the advanced literacies, and analyzing data to bring action into practice were core principles in the work of educators across District 29. Providing these resources has supported small group work and personalized instruction alongside in-school support via walk-throughs and on-site PD.

As noted in the chart above, Year to date, growth can be seen in District 29’s language and literacy benchmark results on Imagine Learning’s Benchmark assessment, which is administered three times a year.  The Beginning of the Year (BOY) and Middle of the Year (MOY) growth of 216 points on the Literacy Benchmark brings our district’s average literacy level from 1st grade (BOY score 879) to 2nd grade (MOY score 1095) across all ELL users.  Students grew an average of 209 points on the Language Benchmark, indicating gains made when students use the program effectively, teachers triangulate the data and adapt supplemental resources in order to complement core instruction. To date, the district has seen growth from the 570 point score on the BOY Language Benchmark, indicating Beginner level of language and growing to an average 779 language score, indicating Intermediate level for language.

Based on the interim success of this work, we have extrapolated the need to develop district wide common assessments across all grades in ELA and Mathematics.  Beginning September 2018, all schools in District 29 will use I-Ready benchmark and interim assessments to monitor and support progress towards meeting New York State standards.

Districtwide ENL Professional Learning facilitated by FSC

Students using Imagine Learning in stations 

“Planning for transformational change requires those implementing the change and those participating in the change to think differently about the nature of the work that they are doing.” Tony Frontier- Five Levers to Improve Learning: How to Prioritize for Powerful Results in Your School.

Post Author: Hakeem Mir

As a web developer, I am hopeful to capture all of the wonderful moments of our school district.