Identifying struggling students is rarely a problem for educators — most have at least a mental list of kids who are unfortunately falling behind. Identifying what the best course of action for those students is where the challenge is often found. For the School District of Janesville, that prescribed action included the intervention solutions Academy of READING and Academy of MATH.
As an educator at the district level, Rod Montanye was instrumental in implementing Academy of READING and Academy of MATH in five of the district’s elementary schools. Concentrating mainly on grades 3-5 for the initial implementation, the intervention solutions were added to the curriculum in January 2007. Most of the district’s schools used 35-minute sessions three times per week through the remainder of the school year. District-wide pre- and post-testing confirmed the success of the programs.
Rod Montanye, Math Coordinator & Professional Development Coordinator
One third-party assessment Janesville used to evaluate the AutoSkill implementation was the Northwest Evaluation Association’s (NWEA) Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test. Students in the Academy of READING groups met 66% of the district’s learning target growth goal and the Academy of MATH groups met 69% of the district’s learning target growth goal. The district compared the AutoSkill groups with similar comparison groups within the district, and they found that those groups only met 33% of their learning target growth goal for reading and math.
“I have learning support teachers telling me they’ve never seen the types of growth and gains from an intervention solution like the ones we’re seeing with Academy of READING and Academy of MATH,” Montanye said.
Academy of Reading delivers big gains
One district school in particular — Adams Elementary — posted remarkable gains in both reading and math. Using Academy of READING and Academy of MATH five days a week in 30-45 minute sessions, students achieved average improvement of 1.7 grade levels in reading and an overall MAP RIT gain of 14.6 points. In math, students gained 1.4 grade levels on average and posted overall MAP RIT gains of 16.3 points. All this improvement came after just one semester with the programs.
“The programs have certainly been a success for our students,” Adams Elementary Principal Catherine Grant said. “One of the most striking findings related to the Academy of READING was the confidence it gave certain students as they continued to earn trophies and improve their skills.”
Academy of READING and Academy of MATH build fluency in foundation skills for elementary, middle, and high schools — as well as English Language Learners (ELLs), Title 1 and special education students. The dynamic intervention engine adapts training to each student’s needs, accelerating where mastery is demonstrated and providing more practice and review when students are struggling. The programs also feature age-appropriate environments and content, including training questions, buddy characters, and positive feedback elements, helping students of all ages achieve success.
The award-winning Academy of READING helps at-risk students build fluency in reading foundation skills in five core areas defined by the National Reading Panel. Using a unique intervention approach that incorporates automaticity, the program delivers an adaptive, individualized training experience for each student.
The Academy of MATH develops computational fluency in math foundation skills in 10 areas that align to NCTM standards. Using a unique intervention approach, the program delivers an adaptive, individualized training experience for each student.
“We are getting very good results,” Montanye said. “We certainly feel very good about what has been achieved so far.”
As it generally is in the public school environment, how best to utilize monetary resources for new expenditures is always a concern. Any intervention solution must be evaluated with regards to its cost-effectiveness.
“The programs are just so efficient,” Montanye said. “Not only in initial cost, but also in professional development and the time on task needed to see real gains.”
Many schools in the district were already utilizing another reading intervention solution — Fast ForWord®. Things changed quickly with the introduction of the Academy of READING. According to Montanye, students at schools already using Fast ForWord “pretty much just worked with Academy of READING” after it was added to the curriculum.
“The first thing we noticed was how much less time on task students needed with the Academy of READING versus what we had been using (Fast ForWord),” Montanye said. “We saw similar results between the two — except Fast ForWord was used the entire year and we used Academy of READING for just one semester. I’m extremely anxious to see what we can do with a full year!”