Study Guide

Field 108: School Building Leader Part 2
Sample Selected-Response Items

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Competency 0002
Family & Community Engagement

Use the information below to answer the five questions that follow.

Mr. G is the new school building leader at Willowbrook Elementary School, a suburban school that enrolls approximately 470 students in grades K–5. Willowbrook is known for a high level of family involvement and for its strong focus on foundational skills. Most teachers at Willowbrook are rated effective or highly effective, and students generally perform at or above district and state averages. Student performance remained strong as Willowbrook implemented a new, district-adopted curriculum aligned to the New York State Common Core Learning Standards last year.

Several years ago, the previous school building leader at Willowbrook established a partnership with the undergraduate teacher education program at a local college. College students enrolled in sections of an upper-level reading instruction course are assigned to serve at Willowbrook as tutors for students who are struggling readers. The college tutors each spend four hours per week tutoring at Willowbrook as a course requirement. Several college faculty members teach sections of the reading instruction course on a rotating basis. Most faculty who teach this course do not meet with Willowbrook staff. Instead, a faculty coordinator at the college meets with administrators and the English Language Arts (ELA) coordinator at the school at the beginning of each school year and on an as-needed basis as the year proceeds.

The Everyone Reads tutoring program was embraced by Willowbrook's staff and by the school community when it began, and the tutoring sessions yielded improvements in reading achievement for Willowbrook students who participated. Now entering its fifth year, the program provides tutoring in reading to approximately 75 students. During his first weeks at Willowbrook, Mr. G met with the parents/guardians of 23 students who participate in the program. These parents/guardians were unanimous in their support for the program, stating that their children have better attitudes toward reading and show greater confidence in their reading abilities as a result of tutoring. Parents/guardians of students in grades 3 through 5 also noted that their children spend two to three hours more per week reading at home than they did before they began participating in the program.

In initial meetings with school staff, however, Mr. G learned that teacher support for the program has declined somewhat. Individual teachers expressed concern that energy for the program has been flagging and that college faculty do not seem as engaged with the program as they had been at the outset. Mr. G hopes to strengthen Willowbrook's partnership with the college's undergraduate teacher education program and reinvigorate staff support for the Everyone Reads program. He reviewed formative assessment data related to literacy skills, as well as the results from an annual teacher survey regarding the program. In addition, he read a letter to the college faculty coordinator written by Ms. R, the previous school building leader at Willowbrook, at the end of the program's first year.

Document 1

Willowbrook Elementary School
Fourth Quarter Formative Assessment Results for Literacy Skills,
Grades 1 through 5

(percentage of students answering more than 65% of formative assessment items correctly)

Document 2

Willowbrook Elementary School
Survey of Teachers with Students Participating in
the Everyone Reads Tutoring Program

* 88% of eligible teachers responded
** 94% of eligible teachers responded

Document 3

Letter to the College Faculty Coordinator from the Previous School Building Leader

Dear Professor K,

Please accept my congratulations on a very successful first year for the Everyone Reads tutoring program. Willowbrook's students have benefited greatly from the college's involvement in our school community.

Over the course of the year, 22 college tutors made regular visits to Willowbrook, and 72 of our students across several grade levels received one-on-one tutoring. The results, I'm pleased to say, were outstanding. Students were excited about working with the tutors, and all showed gains in reading. The collaborative efforts of the college's faculty and students were well received by our staff. The program enjoyed the enthusiastic support of parents/guardians and the entire school community. All in all, we accomplished a great deal, of which we should be proud.

As we reflect on this past year and move toward the next, we are excited about exploring some of the ideas for program expansion that you and other faculty at the college have suggested. My teachers are particularly interested in your idea about having college faculty who are involved in the Everyone Reads program lead professional development activities at our school. The inclusion of the professional development link would no doubt be very useful for exposing teachers to current research and best practices in the field of reading instruction. We are also interested in pursuing your idea of increasing opportunities for our teachers to consult with college faculty on reading instruction that is effective and appropriate for all of their students. Opportunities such as these would provide excellent support for school staff and would help sustain the strong relationship we all enjoyed in this first year.

Please share my congratulations with your colleagues. We are very appreciative of all of your efforts, and of the efforts of your students.

Best regards,

Ms. R
Principal
Willowbrook Elementary School

1. Mr. G is planning an initial meeting with the current college faculty coordinator for the Everyone Reads tutoring program. Based on the information provided, Mr. G should give most attention to which issue at the meeting?

  1. improving the college faculty's responsiveness to Willowbrook staff
  2. increasing the tutors' knowledge of Willowbrook's current curriculum
  3. exploring formative assessment data for Willowbrook students
  4. identifying additional strategies for teaching reading at Willowbrook
Answer
Correct Response: B. This item requires examinees to apply knowledge of skills and strategies for building productive partnerships with institutions of higher education to meet school needs. The scenario indicates that Willowbrook implemented a new curriculum last year that is aligned to the New York State Common Core Learning Standards. Meanwhile, last year's survey of teachers with students participating in the Everyone Reads tutoring program (Document 2) indicates that only 45 percent of teacher respondents agreed or strongly agreed that the tutors assigned to their classes were familiar with the school's current ELA curriculum. To be fully effective in their work with students who are struggling readers, the tutors need to understand and know how to apply the school's new ELA curriculum. Therefore, when meeting with the college faculty coordinator for the Everyone Reads tutoring program, Mr. G's most immediate concern should be the issue of increasing the tutors' knowledge of relevant aspects of the school's new ELA curriculum.

2. Mr. G plans to share school data with college faculty involved in the Everyone Reads tutoring program in order to encourage their engagement in further program planning. Which modification to the data shown would best serve this purpose?

  1. providing formative assessment results for each year since the program began, rather than for selected years only
  2. organizing the teacher survey data to more clearly indicate areas of significant teacher concern
  3. breaking out the formative assessment results for program participants versus nonparticipants
  4. including with the teacher survey data information regarding the specific tutors who worked in each classroom
Answer
Correct Response: C. This item requires examinees to apply knowledge of strategies for engaging the community to support planning and implementation of change. Mr. G could best engage relevant college faculty in further planning for the Everyone Reads tutoring program by providing them with data highlighting specific ways in which the program has been more and less successful in improving students' reading performance over time. The formative assessment data provided in Document 1 is for all students at the school, so the effects of the tutoring program on those students participating in it are difficult or impossible to discern. These data would be far more helpful to the college faculty if they were broken out in ways that distinguish the performance of student participants in the program versus nonparticipants. Such data would allow the college faculty to identify specific program strengths and needs and clarify those areas requiring change in order to be more successful.

3. Based on the information provided, Mr. G can best leverage which area of strength in order to reinvigorate teacher support at Willowbrook for the Everyone Reads tutoring program?

  1. gains in student performance in literacy skills since the program was implemented
  2. the potential interest of college faculty in providing teachers with professional development activities related to the program
  3. the percentage of teachers reporting positive classroom experiences with tutors
  4. reports from parents/guardians about the program's positive impact on children's attitudes about and time spent in reading
Answer
Correct Response: D. This item requires examinees to apply knowledge of strategies for engaging families to support the implementation of change. The scenario indicates that teacher support for the Everyone Reads tutoring program is declining. Available formative assessment data suggest that benefits of the program in terms of improved student test performance may have flattened out in the last couple of years. However, the striking level of family support the program enjoys can be used to reinvigorate teacher support for the program. As they learn about reports from many parents/guardians that the program continues to have positive effects on the attitudes of participating students about reading and, most notably, on the amount of time these students spend reading outside of school, teachers will be more likely to support strengthening the program.

4. Which action taken by Mr. G would likely be most helpful for promoting the effectiveness and vitality of the Everyone Reads tutoring program moving forward?

  1. Establish a system to ensure regular, ongoing communication between the school and college faculty.
  2. Provide college faculty with formative and state assessment results in reading as the results become available.
  3. Invite college faculty to conference with teachers and tutors periodically throughout each semester.
  4. Put in place procedures for individual teachers to contact college faculty as tutor-related issues arise in their classrooms.
Answer
Correct Response: A. This item requires examinees to apply knowledge of effective communication systems between the school and outside stakeholders. A partnership between a school and an outside organization benefits from regular, ongoing communication to help ensure that the needs and expectations of both entities are being met and that any issues that arise can be dealt with promptly and in a mutually acceptable way. The scenario states that meetings between school and college staff occur infrequently and, when they do occur, involve only a small number of school staff and one college faculty coordinator. Given declining faculty support for the program and increasing concerns about various aspects of the program, establishing a system for regular, ongoing communication between the school and college faculty, such as weekly conference calls or monthly meetings, would be one important way of promoting the program's effectiveness and vitality moving forward.

5. Over the next several years, Mr. G's highest priority for strengthening Willowbrook's partnership with the college's undergraduate teacher education program should be

  1. ensuring that the college's undergraduate teacher education students are adequately prepared to serve as tutors
  2. expanding opportunities for Willowbrook staff to work directly with the college's undergraduate teacher education faculty
  3. evaluating the extent to which the partnership with the college continues to support the goal of improving student success
  4. encouraging Willowbrook teachers to pursue professional development related to reading at the college campus
Answer
Correct Response: B. This item requires examinees to apply knowledge of skills and strategies for building productive partnerships with institutions of higher education to meet school needs. The teacher survey indicates that many teachers whose students participate in the program believe they would benefit from opportunities to collaborate with and learn from college faculty, an idea discussed in the previous building leader's letter to the college's faculty coordinator for the program. Moreover, many teachers are experiencing program-related issues that could be addressed through opportunities to interact with their partners at the college, and many would like to see more communication with and responsiveness by the college. Therefore, an important priority for Mr. G in working to strengthen the school-college partnership should be to expand opportunities for school staff to work directly with the college's undergraduate teacher education faculty.

Competency 0003
Operational Systems, Data Systems, and Legal Guidelines to Support Achievement of School Goals

6. A middle school building leader is determining whether to search a student's backpack for a possible illegal substance. Which statement describes the minimum requirement for moving forward with the search?

  1. The student gives verbal permission to conduct the search.
  2. A reasonable suspicion exists that the student is violating the law.
  3. The student has been observed committing an illegal action.
  4. The search is conducted in the presence of the student's parents/guardians.
Answer
Correct Response: B. This item requires examinees to apply knowledge of laws related to student rights. The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees individuals the right to be free from unreasonable searches. In the case of New Jersey v. T.L.O., 469 U.S. 325 (1985), the Supreme Court ruled that school officials have a right to search students based only on "reasonable suspicion," a less rigorous standard than "probable cause," which generally applies to searches outside of a school environment. Therefore, in the situation described, the minimum requirement for a building leader to move forward with a search of a student's backpack is the existence of a reasonable suspicion that the student is violating the law by being in possession of an illegal substance.