When Kiel Area School District (KASD) in Kiel, Wisconsin, received an Alternate Education Grant a few years ago, educator Steve Schmitz and Director of Pupil Services Dawn Mueller began looking for a cost-effective intervention tool that would fit with the Response to Intervention (RTI) model. And when they learned of the many benefits AutoSkill had to offer, they looked no further. In the fall of 2007, they began running an AutoSkill pilot project with KASD middle school students.
A total of 26 Academy of READING and seven Academy of MATH middle school students were part of the initial pilot program. After about three months, KASD educators were impressed with AutoSkill enough to purchase a district-wide license and extra AutoSkill training sessions for teachers. After the AutoSkill training, teachers at the elementary school level also used AutoSkill for struggling students.
Steve Schmitz, Educator
“I compared the AutoSkill students’ Spring 2008 target growth rate (their goal for 2008 MAP testing) with the actual Spring 2008 RIT growth,” said Schmitz. “Students who used the Academy of Reading had an average RIT growth of 8.7, and on average met 164% of their MAP target growth goal. Students that graduated from the Academy of Reading, that is, the students that completed all of their assigned skills in the program, had an average RIT growth of 12.6 , and on average met 233% of their MAP target growth goal. Academy of Math students had an average RIT growth of 7.9 meeting 107% of their MAP target growth goal average.”
The Academy of READING delivers an adaptive, individualized training experience for each student. The program uses a patented methodology with an adaptive intervention engine and motivational principles to help students build confidence and fluency in the foundation skills of reading.
“The AutoSkill pretest starts students at a level that is challenging but not overwhelming,” said Schmitz. “The students work at their own pace while receiving immediate and effective feedback from the AutoSkill Program and the supervising teacher.”
Student training programs are automatically assigned based on a placement test that provides a snapshot of each student’s reading abilities relative to their grade. From there, an adaptive intervention engine adjusts to students’ responses, accelerating training when mastery is demonstrated or reviewing concepts when needed. This way each student has an individualized plan for improvement, based on their skills and style of learning.
“AutoSkill seems to build student confidence. I have heard from other classroom teachers that many of the AutoSkill students have increased confidence in the traditional classroom setting,” said Schmitz. “I think because these students have experienced genuine success with math or reading in AutoSkill, they are more willing to participate in classroom discussions and are more optimistic about their academic abilities in general.”
Based on extensive research and proven in thousands of elementary, middle and high schools across the country, the award-winning AutoSkill software delivers a powerful intervention software solution that helps at-risk students achieve rapid, permanent gains in reading. The methodology incorporates instructional and behavioral principles to address skills development and learner motivation.
Schmitz believes that the primary reason why students have low achievement at school or fail to meet expectations on standardized assessments is lack of foundation skills in reading and math. He credits AutoSkill’s Academy of READING and Academy of MATH as the intervention solutions of choice to increase achievement for students below grade level in reading and math.
To test his theory, last year Schmitz gave the AutoSkill students an anonymous survey asking about their experiences with AutoSkill.
“79 percent of the AutoSkill students said they enjoyed working with the AutoSkill program,” said Schmitz. “While 86 percent of the AutoSkill students thought they were better at math and reading because they worked with AutoSkill.”
Schmitz noted that these students filled out the survey before they knew about their MAP score improvements. In other words, an overwhelming majority of AutoSkill students felt better about their math and reading skills without having to be told that they are better at math or reading.
“Their confidence in math or reading came mostly through their own reflection and self-awareness,” said Schmitz. “I think the AutoSkill program can be a very effective intervention for struggling students. However, AutoSkill is not a stand alone program.”
AutoSkill is committed to helping educators — teachers, principals and district administrators — help students establish the fundamental literacy skills and achieve permanent gains in both reading and math. Through the software’s individual assessment capability, AutoSkill allows struggling students to work independently on their critical skill gaps, allowing educators to concentrate their time and effort on students needing the most help. Using a three-step intervention methodology, the program delivers a dynamic individualized training experience for each student.
“The AutoSkill success is a combination of a great AutoSkill product, excellent educator training provided by Education Technology Partners, a very supportive administration, and professional educators who are open to new ideas and can differentiate well in their classrooms,” said Schmitz. “We are fortunate that all of these attributes can be found in the Kiel Area School District.”
The creators of the Academy of READING and Academy of MATH know that successful reading and math intervention programs require more than just great software. With little time and even fewer resources, busy educators need to quickly integrate technology into the classroom, help students become productive immediately, and generate rapid results.