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Fast Facts About Momenta
Barbara Gardner and Ed Moscovitch founded Momenta (formerly called the Bay State Reading Institute, or BSRI) in 2005 because they knew that the best way to improve schools is to provide teachers and principals with ongoing support and education in their classrooms and buildings.
Each year Momenta partners with over 50 elementary and middle schools across Massachusetts, producing benefits in many areas: improving MCAS scores for low-income students at a much faster rate than the state average, improved state accountability levels, improved school culture and greater collaboration among staff, and better educational leadership from principals.
How Momenta Radically Improves Outcomes for Students
A 2018 report from The Rennie Center of Education Research & Policy in Boston explains how schools radically improve their outcomes through partnering with Momenta.
The report found that, with Momenta’s support, teachers gained “a better understanding of how to differentiate instruction and use data to guide their teaching.” Through new classroom practices modeled by Momenta coaches and the schools’ reading coaches, teachers saw improved teamwork, a school-wide culture of collaboration, and increased collegiality across teams. Teachers began to set higher expectations for themselves and their students, “regardless of background, disability, language, etc.” and learned to tailor instruction to individual student needs.
One of the schools in the study, the Keverian School in Everett, which has partnered with Momenta for five years, moved from Level 3 to Level 1 in the Massachusetts accountability system, and saw improvements in student engagement, behavior, skills and confidence. Teachers at all three schools in the Rennie study reported that, “students are more confident and independent at self-managing their own learning.” Additionally, the report states that “the Momenta model has particularly helped the English Language Learner students,” and the schools “have seen similar results with students with special needs.”
The Rennie Center report details three elements of the Momenta approach that were crucial in quickly and effectively improving the culture of the school and its student success: coaching, use of individual student assessment data to inform instruction, and school-wide collaboration.
Jen Poulos, Rennie Center Associate Director, attributes the success in the Everett Schools to strong school leadership, district-level buy-in and clear strategic direction and goals. And she stresses, “Driving change in school takes hard work - and it takes hard work that takes a number of years. In Everett there was support for the model at both district and the school level, but that alone did not get the work done. It took a lot of hard work from teachers and it took a lot of years to stick.”
But the effort brings results, says Poulos. “As teachers begin to have more time and resources to work with each other, fine-tune their practice, use data to change their expectations about student work, teachers become more invested or become re-invested and hold each other accountable, as well as their students accountable for progress.” From there, Poulos says, “Following that teacher culture piece, comes the Holy Grail: the change in student performance we saw at Keverian School as part of this study.”
John Obremski was the Keverian principal who first brought Momenta into the school and is now principal at the Lafayette School which was also part of the Rennie study. He saw the need for change, and the significant transformation Momenta brought to his schools, “At what point do you decide, are we going to change what we do and instruct every kid individually, or are we going to just do a stand-and-deliver model and hope that the kids learn. That’s really not what we can do in this day and age, when we have kids from all over the world, we have kids with all different needs, whether they are high needs, or low needs. The differentiated instruction model, the curriculum supports that BSRI proscribes, is the only model we should be using.”
Michelle Rooney, Title 1 Coordinator for Everett Public Schools, was the first reading coach at Keverian, a new position the Momenta model required for successful implementation. She has seen the benefit of the hard work and commitment the entire staff made to their students. “Change is possible over time. It’s amazing what we did at Keverian. So much change can occur in just one building with the right curriculum, staff and administration supporting you. It’s exciting that students can learn more than we ever thought they could. We’re an example of that. It’s been a great experience for us.”
Massachusetts State Senator Sal DiDomenico has seen the impact firsthand, “I can tell you that through the work of Momenta, and the dedicated work of teachers and administrators buying into this program, the Keverian School became a Level 1 school. I give a lot of credit to this program. Every school they have gone into has seen a dramatic increase in scores, they have changed the culture and teaching in schools, analyze data in different way, working collaboratively with principals, superintendents, teachers – from top to bottom everybody’s involved.”
Findings of this report have strong implications for many struggling schools across Massachusetts, as the Rennie study points out, “as more schools and districts around the commonwealth welcome diverse student bodies with a variety of learning needs, it will be important to consider how to adopt a unified strategy for promoting improvement in teacher practice and student success.”
Momenta co-founder Ed Moscovitch points out that in its partner- schools, “Teachers are saying kids are doing things they never thought possible. It’s a change in the culture of the school – when teachers feel safe to take risks and the principal has their backs, when they see what children are capable of, they begin to carefully analyze and share data, visit each other’s classrooms, plan together, and help each other make sure every single child is succeeding.”