Atlanta Charter School Closes Learning Gaps, Puts Students on Path to Success With AIMSweb From Pearson

5/29/2012 12:00:00 AM

Innovative Assessment and Data Management System Is “Key Piece” to Successful RTI Initiative

ATLANTA – May 29, 2012At Charles R. Drew Charter School in urban Atlanta, teachers hit the ground running on the first day of each school year, addressing gaps uncovered in data from the previous school year, using AIMSweb® – Pearson’s web-based assessment and data-management system. By the fall benchmark, they’re seeing a significant payoff: The majority of their students are already caught up and prepared for the learning challenges of the upcoming school year.

Three years ago, school leaders adopted AIMSweb after a search for an easy and effective way to access data to make instructional decisions, to see which students needed interventions and where, and to monitor progress. Designed for students in kindergarten through eighth grade, AIMSweb provides multiple assessments to universally screen and progress-monitor basic academic skills in reading, writing and math.

“AIMSweb is really efficient,” said Drew Charter School first-grade teacher Alicia Pagan, whose class is primarily made up of students who are in need of intervention. “We’re not wasting time – not ours and not the children’s – that could be spent on learning.”

Throughout the school year, she monitors her students’ progress, adding and subtracting interventions in response to frequent, brief AIMSweb assessments. By the end of the year, typically 90 percent of her students have reached proficiency.

Now in its eleventh year, Drew Charter School was Atlanta’s first charter school and serves nearly 900 students, 97 percent of whom are African American. In the face of a socioeconomically struggling community – 83 percent qualify for free or reduced lunch – students are outpacing their peers across the state. Last August, the school was awarded Race to the Top funding to create one of Georgia’s first STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) schools. 

Nicole Tuttle, Drew Charter School literacy coach, attributes the school’s success to the focus on personalized learning for each student. At the center of this effort is a Response to Intervention (RTI) initiative that addresses the needs of students who have barriers to learning. “I believe AIMSweb is the key piece,” she said. “We have a common language around data, across grade levels, and it’s efficient. And we can pull numerous helpful reports, even comparing our data with national norms.”

“Drew Charter School’s experience illustrates the success that schools across the country realize when they use AIMSweb to create personal learning paths for their students,” said Carol Watson, president, Pearson’s Clinical Assessment business. “When teachers have the data showing exactly how students are progressing right at their fingertips, they are able to make the most of every minute of the school day to ensure that all students are on the path to success in school, college and career.”

Tuttle has witnessed a transformation in managing assessment data since the AIMSweb implementation, she said. “All of our teachers own the data now, so they’re fully aware of what’s going on with each student,” she explained. “They generate reports and talk in data terms now – it’s not just, ‘This child is not doing well.’ They know exactly where the deficits and gains are.”

For parents of students undergoing weekly progress monitoring, teachers provide monthly reports detailing progress, as well as ways to reinforce learning at home. “I can show them exactly where their child needs to improve to be successful,” said Pagan. “It’s always gratifying when they tell me that they’re seeing progress – when I hear, ‘She was just sounding out letters, but now she can read a book to me.’”

For more information about AIMSweb, go to http://www.aimsweb.com.

About Pearson
Pearson, the world’s leading learning company, has global reach and market-leading businesses in education, business information and consumer publishing (NYSE: PSO). For more information, visit www.pearsonassessments.com.

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