Reading and Writing: An Antidote for STAAR Remediation

About this session

After years of unsuccessful attempts to pass the English STAAR tests and years of required remediation, what runs through a student’s head? “What is the use?” The question is, when are schools going to look at the instructional delivery of reading and writing through the lens of a student?

“Reading and Writing for Life” is a course that will center around skills necessary for a successful future beyond high school. The course will also work towards building student confidence and encouraging student autonomy. The course will be designed to give students options to read adolescent and culturally responsive novels, poems, and current digital or print media that spark the students’ interest; whether it be sports, fashion and people, or just simply the comics. Students will be given opportunities to write their personal narratives, to craft arguments regarding current issues, and debate issues that center around their lives and communities. These activities will center on the reading and writing standards needed to pass the English I and II STAAR tests, but it will not be the “drill and kill” classes that students find themselves trapped in. The activities are designed to promote student growth beyond simply passing a test.

Taylor Farmilette, teacher at Lamar Consolidated High School
Steve Amstutz, Director of Measuring What Matters at the Institute for Research and Reform in Education; Lecturer in Educational Leadership at Rice University
Catherine Horn, Moores Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies and Executive Director of the Institute for Educational Policy Research and Evaluation at the University of Houston
Grace Magnoni, teacher at Blue Hills Regional Technical School


Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021
6:00 PM CT
Live Webinar
Rice Education

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Presented By Taylor Farmilette, Steve Amstutz, Catherine Horn and Grace Magnoni

Taylor Farmilette has spent her entire teaching career with Title I students, first as a college and career counselor, and then as a high school English teacher. She has taught high school ELA for the last 6 years, working with general education, remedial, and inclusion classes. She is currently the head coach for the girls soccer coach for Lamar Consolidated High School.

Steve Amstutz began his career serving children in education as a 5th grade teacher in Houston, Texas. He served as a principal for 20 years at both elementary and secondary schools. During those years, he founded Liberty High School an alternative school designed specifically to meet the challenges faced by older, immigrant students, and DiscoverU, a non-profit providing novel learning experiences beyond the high school classroom that expand students’ aspirations and develop the confidence and skills essential for college success. Since 2013, Steve has worked as Director of Measuring What Matters at the Institute for Research and Reform in Education supporting school improvement initiatives in urban and rural school districts across the country. He is a lecturer in the educational leadership program at Rice University.

Catherine Horn is Moores Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies and Executive Director of the Institute for Educational Policy Research and Evaluation at the University of Houston. She is also the Director for the Center for Research and Advancement of Teacher Education and for the University of Houston Education Research Center. Dr. Horn, who received her PhD from Boston College, focuses on the systemic influences of secondary and postsecondary assessment and related policies on the learning trajectories of students, particularly those traditionally underserved by the education and social sectors. Prior to joining the University of Houston, she worked as Research Associate for The Civil Rights Project at Harvard University; Senior Research Associate for the Center for the Study of Testing, Evaluation and Educational Policy’s National Board on Educational Testing and Public Policy at Boston College; and a teacher at Jefferson Davis High School in the Houston Independent School District.

Grace Magnoni graduated from the Rice M.A.T. program in 2013. She began her career teaching English Language Arts in Fort Bend ISD. Since 2016, she has been an English instructor at Blue Hills Regional Technical School just south of Boston, Massachusetts. As an academic teacher in a Title I vocational school, Grace serves a diverse student population in terms of race, socioeconomic status, and support needs. She practices student-centered, culturally responsive teaching by fostering a collaborative classroom culture and by centering student voices. In addition to teaching, Grace is a cofounder of the Blue Hills Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee and the sponsor for the school’s student-led Multicultural Coalition.

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