New FIP Resource Available for Science Teachers

For those who have been interested in more science FIP resources, good news! The Creating Clear Learning Targets in Science module is now available through the Ohio Portal. Check it out on our Creating Clear Learning Targets page.

By completing this module, learners will have the opportunity to practice creating clear learning targets using Ohio science standards. This module includes examples from all grade levels. 

If you’re looking for more science resources, check out the FIP in Action in Science Grade 8 module as well.



Beyond the Rainbow: Understanding Each Child through Effective Skill Analysis

Laura M. Schnebelen, Principal of John Burroughs Elementary, reflects on her staff's use of skills analysis to move beyond basic categorization of students.

Several years ago, my staff and I began to implement Ohio's School Improvement Process. This includes following the 5-step process:

1. Collect and chart pre-data
2. Analyze data for trends
3. Determine adult change in practice
4. Implement those changes with fidelity 
5. Analyze post-data to determine effectiveness of instruction

The process has provided a framework for discussions and encouraged collaboration between staff. In fact, I look forward to starting my days with grade-level TBT meetings; not because we are efficient in moving through the process but because my staff's conversations are so student-centered and rich in thought. So, how has this process evolved to be so meaningful? When I reflect back, one of the most influential ideas was moving "beyond the rainbow". 

A pivotal step in implementing the 5-step process is organizing student achievement. In many cases, this means separating students into four categories:
o    far below (red)
o    just below (yellow)
o    at (green)
o    above (blue)

Based on the level of achievement, students groups are provided specific instruction. But what about a student scoring in the "red" group who already has the skills, but misunderstands specific vocabulary (knows how to model multiplication, but understood “product” to mean adding and forgets the meaning of “array”)? How about the student scoring in the "green" who can also model multiplication, but does not understand the relationship between multiplication and division? By simply grouping student achievement into ‘rainbow’ categories, we, as teachers, may overlook gaping holes in a student's understanding. We may also underestimate our students' understanding.

As we transitioned to Ohio's New Learning Standards, my staff recognized that each standard is packed full of information and student expectations. We also recognized that meeting parts of the standard does not mean "mastery" of the standard. As a way of addressing both the robust nature of the standards and the need to guarantee student understanding of its entirety, my staff has developed a basic skill analysis system. Take, for example, 4.OA.4

4. Find all factor pairs for a whole number in the range 1–100. Recognize that a whole number is a multiple of each of its factors. Determine whether a given whole number in the range 1–100 is a multiple of a given one-digit number. Determine whether a given whole number in the range 1–100 is prime or composite.

This one standard requires students to find factors within 100, recognize and determine multiples and understand the concept of prime and composite numbers. Simply categorizing students by color may, very well, miss the true understanding each child has about each component of the standard. Using a skill analysis, though, allows the teacher to truly analyze understanding and misconceptions for each student.  See below for the skill analysis of 4.OA.4.

Use of a skill analysis has made my staff more attuned to our students' learning strengths and obstacles. The greater impact, though, has been on how instruction is delivered. Traditional small-group lessons reflect the same students (4-5 at the table) being taught in a linear fashion. Use of the skill analysis has provided framework for flexible, intentional grouping. Instead of organizing guided reading or guided math instruction based on "level", my staff has begun organizing by skill. This allows them to instruct students on what they need, build perfunctory skills if necessary and extend understanding when appropriate. As shown in the example, the skill analysis can then be used to document mastery during core instruction, and to determine who needs reteaching of a specific skill during post-assessment.

So what makes me look forward to TBT meetings, so much? It's not moving through the five steps, nor is it discussing student achievement trends. It is seeing my staff rethink our instruction, grow and stretch ourselves to better meet the needs of our students. Using this simple skill analysis has provided the setting for my staff to do just that. 

FIP Video of the Week

FIP in a Blended Classroom

Step inside Mrs. Spillman's classroom as students use technology to take ownership of their learning and create space for timely and effective feedback.


  • What components of FIP did you hear Mrs. Spillman describe as she was talking about the math software?
  • What example of student ownership of learning did Kim describe?
  • How does this math program complement Mrs. Spillman’s instruction?


  • How do you embed all the components of FIP into your classroom?
  • How do your students see and reflect on their individual progress?


  • How will you incorporate a blended approach to enhance learning in your classroom with technology? Without technology?
  • If you have an opportunity to evaluate software for instructional use, what aspects would you look for in the software?

*The Ohio Department of Education and Battelle for Kids do not endorse specific vendor software, as seen in this video. There are no strategic relationships involved in the production of this video.

Reflections from a “Most Effective” Teacher (Part 1): Value-Added Ratings and FIP

Kate Kennedy, a 6th grade English language arts teacher at Evening Street Elementary in Worthington, reflects on strategies that helped her and her students to improve.

Last year I was a bit miffed to learn I was an "average" teacher under the state value-added teacher ratings. However, I got over myself, and got busy, and now I'm thrilled to see that my efforts paid off. My latest value-added teacher report names me as a "most effective" teacher, which places me in the top 10% of all teachers in my subject and grade level across Ohio. 

Now, I don’t think tests even come close to measuring everything I teach in a year, and I do think our children are over-assessed in general, but tests are still important. After all, I want my students to be college and career ready, and I also want to make sure they’re able to compete on high-stakes assessments such as the SAT, ACT, and GRE. But how much are my students growing? That’s what really matters to me.

So, how did I grow from average to most effective in just one school year? There’s no magic formula, but I did make a number of data-driven, instructional decisions last year. I believe these impacted how much my children learned, and thus, how much they grew. Nothing I did was rocket science exactly, but I did have to push myself to try some new things. Let's talk about the first strategy I implemented.

FIP and Value-Added: How One Feeds the Other

I have been using formative instructional practices, with varying degrees of success, for all of my teaching career. This is now my seventh year of full-time teaching, and I really appreciate the information value-added provides. While it is used for my evaluation--and I know this puts a bad taste in a lot of people’s mouths--I use it formatively. That is, I examine which groups of children grew and which did not. Last year I discovered that my highest performing children were growing the most, but my children in the middle were growing less than I would like. So I made some changes, and here’s what happened:

I really was able to produce more growth with my middle kids and I still produced decent growth with my highest students, but unfortunately not as much as the previous year. So this year I’ll be working even harder towards great growth with ALL my kids. 

I know some teachers who never even open their value-added reports, because they don’t think they’re valid, and I think that’s a shame. They give you one piece of additional information that can show you where you are strongest, while bringing to light any areas of weakness you may have. Honestly, I’m not sure I would've made the changes that I did were it not for my value-added report. It was an alert that I needed to step up my game and try some new things, and those efforts are paying off.

Stay tuned for more reflections from Kate in Part 2.

FIP Video of the Week

Checking for Understanding

Mrs. Thomas shows how she takes a quick, formative check for understanding in her classroom.


  • When is it appropriate to do a quick check for understanding?
  • Why can a formative check be more effective than a graded quiz?
  • How does Mrs. Thomas respond when students miss the correct answer?


  • How do you conduct quick checks for understanding in your own class?
  • How do you respond to students when you see that they do not understand?
  • If you have an Intervention Specialist in your classroom, what role do they play in the FIP process?


  • How will you determine when quick checks are appropriate and when they are not?
  • How will you ensure that students receive feedback after quick checks?


Enroll in the Foundations of FIP modules.

FIP Resources Will Remain Available

Strong Implementation, Capacity Building, and Sustainability Planning Ensure FIP Will Not Go Away!

Over the last four years, the Ohio Department of Education and Battelle for Kids have created a wide-range of tools and services that help educators improve their use of formative instructional practices (FIP). I’m pleased to share that these professional learning resources will continue to be available to all Ohio educators—for free—for the foreseeable future.

While many LEAs have begun their journey to implement FIP, there are others who have not yet engaged or have not had the implementation support they need to build capacity around FIP with fidelity. Ohio’s commitment to keep the FIP resources available means LEAs can continue to focus on implementation, capacity-building, and sustainability planning well into the future.

Need a reminder of what to tools are available to support your FIP journey? 

  • 44 online modules focused on helping educators integrate Ohio’s new content standards with sound standards-driven, student-focused FIP
  • Related FIP Facilitation Guides designed to drive strong team-based learning, transfer knowledge into practice and support adult blended learning
  • A robust and high quality video library currently has nearly 50 videos of Ohio educators engaged in exemplary practice
  • A team of well-trained regional FIP specialists to train and support teachers and leaders in the field
  • An online file room for school leaders with resources to support sustainable FIP implementation.
  • Crosswalks to show connections to other pressing and related processes including OTES, OPES, OIP and the Third Grade Reading Guarantee (this resource is called “FIP Your RIMP” and is under the “Literacy Instruction Toolkit” tab, page 31).
  • Social media networks and The FIP Your School Ohio Blog provide thought leadership and avenues of communication for learners across Ohio and beyond.
  • Tools to meet the needs of special populations such as gifted education, special education, and ELL education 
  • Access for higher education to FIP modules and resources

This extensive project took a systems-approach to professional learning which, as of March 2015, has resulted in:

  • Nearly 250,000 enrollments in FIP courses
  • 42,000 staff enrolled in at least one course
  • More than 135,000 courses completed to date
  • Nearly 4,300 schools have enrolled staff
  • Over 7,000 course enrollments in Higher Education across 112 faculty members

All your effort is making a difference in teaching and learning for students.

The FIP video library is one source of evidence that formative instructional practices are making a difference in rural, suburban, and urban areas in our state. Watch the videos to see how educators are putting formative instructional practices to use in the classroom. 

Remember, the FIP Your School effort is about re-focusing on excellent teaching that encourages student learning—something that will always be a priority. The FIP resources are there to help you and your students on this journey.