The motto for Salem (Indiana) Community Schools is “Leading Students to Success” — and through the use of the Academy of READING® and Academy of MATH®, they are targeting the students who need the most help to experience academic success.
Educators at Salem began using the Academy of READING and Academy of MATH in the fall of 2009 with special education and Title1 students. Dr. Jackie Arnold, Director of Assessment and Program Improvements, was instrumental in the district-wide implementation of this new software.
Dr. Jackie Arnold, Director of Assessment and Program Improvements
“We’re using the Academy of READING in all four buildings in our district — teachers are utilizing the program in four classes at the high school, six classes at the middle school and eight classes at the elementary schools,” said Arnold. “So about 100 students, many with mild handicaps, are participating in the program and we are seeing amazing jumps in achievement!”
The Academy of READING offers a structured and sequential training program that targets skills essential for proficient reading. The four main activities include: phonemic awareness; sound symbol association; phonics and decoding; and comprehension. These skills are trained to a level of mastery that includes automaticity to ensure robust and permanent skills development.
“All the teachers were immediately impressed with the Academy of READING, because our biggest success has been with our students who need the most help,” said Arnold. “A lot of these teachers have been teaching a long time and aren’t really tech-savvy; but they are excited about what this is doing for the students. And they are eager to learn more about the Academy of READING.”
With the Academy of READING, educators can identify and target the gaps of at-risk learners. Students get intensive instruction and practice on the building blocks of reading fluency while the platform’s patented technology adapts to their unique learning patterns.
“I think it really allows us to individualize the instruction for exactly what each child needs for exactly when they need it, which is very hard to do,” said Arnold. “Instead of one size fits all, the Academy of READING and Academy of MATH are really customizable. I would recommend the Academy of READING because of the depth of what it can do. There is so much here. It is accessible to the students and the presentations are engaging for students.”
With age-appropriate content, interfaces and graphical elements, the Academy of READING creates an optimal learning environment for students from K-12. Students start on “easier” material and work through content, celebrating success at every step along the way.
“What I really like about the Academy of READING is that it’s not a superficial program — it is not just fun and games and it hits right at reading,” said Arnold. “That is key to success in math, social studies, science, any subject really — the literacy needs to be there. We had huge weaknesses with literacy in some of our students, but the program is getting them at the reading levels where they need to be.”
Thousands of at-risk K-12 students use the Academy of READING to build fluency in foundation skills. Students achieve significant and permanent gains through a patented, research-based instructional model that builds strong roots in literacy and motivational learning.
“Our students are already improving, and you can tell they are feeling more confident,” said Arnold. “I think with the Academy of READING, we can help our students achieve more academically — and also in real life.”
Classroom results show students achieving permanent reading gains in as little as 10 hours of time on task. At Salem, the average student gained one whole grade level in just two months on the program.
“Our teachers are really seeing benefits of Academy of READING — they loved the training and appreciate that it is easy to use and keep records,” said Arnold. “We plan on keeping this as part of curriculum and hopefully expand so more students can take advantage of these programs.”
One of Dr. Arnold’s colleagues, Melinda Hypes, uses both the Academy of READING and Academy of MATH with her special education students at least four days a week for 20 minutes on each program.
“I believe that the Academy of READING and Academy of MATH are helping my students and will continue to help them in the future,” said Hypes. “Of course, my students do not make gains as quickly as ‘regular ed’ students, but I am happy with the progress that I have seen — in math I had one student raise her score one whole grade level.”
With the Academy of READING, Hypes also had a student raise his score two complete levels and another student raised her score three complete levels. She is thankful for the availability of both programs.
Another special education teacher at Salem, Becky Schamber, has her students work with the Academy of MATH for about an hour per week. Schamber post-tested her students after only two months of usage and found that, on average, her class increased their math skills one whole grade level.
“I am very pleased with the program,” said Schamber. “I give thanks to those administrators who had the foresight to make the programs and the hardware available for my special needs students.”