Learning By Doing

10-15-19 MECC Rewriting Our Story 12.jpgIn 2016, Marshall ISD committed to a renewed focus on early childhood education as a key cornerstone in the district’s academic turnaround efforts. This focus was based on three key areas: creating an environment that is conducive to fun, yet rigorous, hands-on literacy material; train teachers appropriately with the material; and to understand the purpose of building a community via care and logical consequences.

Since that time, MISD’s early childhood education program -- first at Washington Early Childhood Center and now, as of 2019, at Marshall Early Childhood Center -- has implemented a wide-ranging pre-kindergarten curriculum titled “Learning by Doing.” This new curriculum and approach to early childhood education has begun to produce phenomenal growth in students as they prepare to enter kindergarten.

The Learning By Doing program provides teachers with the training needed to understand concepts, create intentional lessons, present lessons in a meaningful manner that involves students’ interest while systematically presenting lessons that are integrated with literacy concepts. This intentional and methodical framework allows young students to engage and master literacy concepts in a simple to complex manner. There is a repetition of how lessons are presented, yet new literacy concepts are introduced so that students are able to master concepts at their own pace. Students are exposed to three letter sounds a day for ten days. Each day brings a new literacy concept and indirect integration of other content areas such as mathematics.

The 2018-2019 school year, the third under the Learning by Doing program as well as the final half-day format at Washington Early Childhood Center, saw tremendous gains. Data from the year’s benchmarks also show a tremendous increase in learning and overall reading skills in our pre-kindergarten students. Students tested early in the year in Rapid Vocabulary tested at 59 percent in the first benchmark, but tested at 80 percent in the third and final benchmark of the year, an increase of 21 points.

In Syllabication, students tested at 22 percent at the beginning of the year but improved to 72 percent, an increase of 50 points, after another year in the Learning By Doing curriculum. In Shape Naming, students began the year at 45 percent but improved to 82 percent, a 37-point jump, by the end of the year. By any standard of measurement, that is an impressive school year in terms of student achievement and learning at our early childhood campus.

MISD expects these impressive gains to only grow considering the fact that in 2019-2020, with the move to the old South Marshall Elementary campus, the district is able to expand to a full-day early childhood school rather than the old half-day format at the former WECC.
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