In a classroom full of students with diverse needs, teachers are challenged to tailor instruction so every student learns. In a growing number of school districts, the answer to this challenge lies in sophisticated software systems that help individualize teaching by analyzing student performance - and then prescribing lessons that meet the student’s specific needs and learning styles.
What follows are the stories of three schools – one elementary, one middle and one high school. Although they are very different schools, they have one thing in common - all have found that targeted, standards-based instruction is an important factor in improving student learning and school performance. And all have used Classworks® comprehensive K-12 instructional software to drive those improvements.
Developed by Curriculum Advantage, Inc., Classworks provides individualized instruction in math, reading, language arts and science to bring at-risk students to grade level proficiency, accelerate learning for mainstream students, and help English learners build fluency. It offers educators more than 17,000 activities, drawn from 265 software titles, to customize instruction and increase performance.
George Y. Komure Elementary
Using Classworks, George Y. Komure Elementary in Stockton, Calif., improved its Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Program results, and made significant progress toward closing the achievement gap among economically disadvantaged students and English language learners (ELL).
At the K-8 school, all students work on Classworks one day a week in the computer lab, and targeted groups of struggling seventh and eighth grade students participate in Classworks electives every other day. The school also integrates Classworks into after school tutoring.
From 2008 to 2009, school-wide STAR proficiency levels increased from 35 to 41 percent in English language arts and from 41 to 49 percent in math. Economically disadvantaged students made gains as well, outpacing school-wide gains with an 8.5 percent increase in proficiency in math. ELL students posted double-digit gains, with proficiency levels increasing from 19 to 32 percent in language arts and from 39 to 54 percent in math. As a group, ELL students met Adequate Yearly Progress proficiency criteria for the first time in 2009.
“As our teachers became more focused on specific standards and making sure students were working specifically on their areas of need, we saw the benefits in student engagement and in test scores,” said Principal Jo Ella Allen.
Red Springs High School
After integrating Classworks into its Freshman Academy and achieving high growth in 2008-09, Red Springs High School was taken off North Carolina’s list of Low Performing high schools and named a School of Progress.
At the rural school, located in the southeastern corner of Robeson County, students work on Classworks in English I, algebra I and geometry. Teachers introduce concepts using the software during whole class instruction and then reinforce those concepts in the computer lab where students work on individualized learning paths. Classworks is also used in an after school program.
“When you can determine in a matter of minutes where each student is academically and individualize instruction — and when students are fully engaged in their learning — good things happen,” said Principal Dan Ryberg.
From 2008 to 2009, Red Springs High School increased its End-of-Course (EOC) test scores, with double-digit gains in proficiency in English I, algebra I and geometry. In English I, the percentage of students scoring at or above grade level rose from 45 to 57 percent. In algebra I, it increased from 41 to 58 percent. In geometry, it jumped from 53 to 71 percent. This success resulted in fewer dropouts, with the school-wide graduation rate soaring from 50 to 70 percent.
Northside Middle School
In addition to helping schools make rapid gains, Classworks helps schools sustain student growth over several years. Six years ago, Northside Middle School in Warner Robins, Ga. implemented Classworks to increase Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests (CRCT) scores for all students and close the achievement gap for every subgroup. At the Title I school, students work on Classworks in dedicated labs for language arts and math, in mini-labs in every classroom, and in an after school program.
Since 2004, Northside Middle School’s CRCT scores have increased for all students and subgroups. From 2004 to 2009, the percentage of students performing at or above the proficient level on the CRCT rose from 84 to 95 percent in reading/English language arts and from 76 to 86 percent in math. The percentage of economically disadvantaged students achieving proficiency jumped from 78 to 93 percent in reading/English language arts and from 71 to 83 percent in math. The percentage of African-American students achieving proficiency increased from 80 to 94 percent in reading/English language arts and from 68 to 81 percent in math. Special education students cut the achievement gap in half, as proficiency levels rose from 50 to 78 percent in reading/English language arts, and from 34 to 65 percent in math.
“We put our trust in Classworks six years ago, and it hasn’t let us down,” said Ed Mashburn, who served as principal from 2004 to 2009. “Our teachers integrated it more each year, our students are engaged and eager to learn with Classworks, and the scores just keep going up.”