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LEARN Charter School (IL)

/Academy Interventions

Download PDF version of this articleCourtney Francis, Head of LEARN Charter School, knows that education builds upon a strong foundation in reading and math skills, but she wasn’t convinced that technology could be the instrument to aid in strengthening those skills. The literacy intervention software programs Academy of READING and Academy of MATH made her a believer.

In response to lagging Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) scores by her third and fourth grade students, Francis and her fellow educators at LEARN Charter began to investigate ways to improve student performance. One LEARN Charter board member — herself a former educator — was very familiar with AutoSkill’s literacy intervention solutions Academy of READING and Academy of MATH and the school opted to add the programs to their curriculum in February of 2007.

“I couldn’t believe how engaged the students were with the Academy of READING and Academy of MATH —they were so focused you could hear a pin drop.”
Courtney Francis, Head of School

“I must admit that I was skeptical — technology can sometimes be fluff,” Francis said. “But everything about the programs seemed to make sense, so we decided to implement them.”

The Academy of MATH and award-winning Academy of READING software helps students build foundational skills for elementary, middle, and high schools — as well as English Language Learners (ELLs), Title 1 and special education students. The software’s 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. Additionally, the programs feature age-appropriate environments and content, including: training questions, buddy characters and positive feedback elements that deliver an adaptive, personalized training experience for each student.

Despite a limited amount of time with the programs, student gains at LEARN Charter School have been noticeable.

“We knew those two groups (third and fourth grades) were in trouble — especially in reading,” Francis said. “Those two groups improved more than any other class. We credit that to the AutoSkill programs.”

As part of the implementation, LEARN developed a PM Learning Program —a mandatory after-school program for struggling students — that features Academy of READING and Academy of MATH. LEARN also established a “foundations” classroom that students rotate into on an as-needed basis.

“I couldn’t believe how engaged the students were with Academy of READING and Academy of MATH,” Francis said. They didn’t even notice I was in there (computer lab) — they were so focused you could hear a pin drop.”

Marked improvement in student performance at LEARN Charter School was apparent within the first semester of incorporating Academy of READING and Academy of MATH. Courtney Francis wanted results to prove that technology can play a role in improving student performance; the proof walks past her in the halls at LEARN every day.