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Sebeka (MN) Elementary School

/Academy Interventions

Download PDF version of this articleLike many schools across Minnesota, educators at the Sebeka School District were faced with an important decision — how best to utilize funds available from the Minnesota Microsoft settlement. Many software intervention solutions were investigated and considered. Based on first-year results, Superintendent Dave Fjeldheim is certainly convinced they made the correct decision in adding AutoSkills’s Academy of READING and Academy of MATH to their curriculum.

The school district implemented both programs in September 2006 — concentrating their efforts on reaching students in grades 2-4 and offering the tools on a less-structured basis to younger and older students. Using the powerful assessment tools included with the AutoSkill software, educators at Sebeka established a baseline through pre-testing in September, additional interim testing in January and end-of-the-year testing in May. The gains made by the students were remarkable.

“At this point, our teachers are very satisfied with both Academy of READING and Academy of MATH. Both programs will definitely continue to be a part of our curriculum moving forward.”
Dave Fjeldheim, Superintendent

Many 2nd graders at Sebeka tested below their grade level in both math and reading in September. By the end of the school year, those students had, at the very least, caught up to their grade level and in many cases advanced their math and reading skills by several grade levels. In fact, the average gain in math was 2.6 grade levels and in reading the average gain was 2.2 grade levels.

“Across the board, our teachers were most impressed with Academy of READING and Academy of MATH,” Fjeldheim said. “The testing numbers certainly show the effectiveness of adding the programs to our curriculum.”

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.

“It’s exciting to see my students captivated by the programs,” 3rd grade teacher Jenny Lillquist said. “They’re motivated to learn new skills and absolutely cannot wait to get back to the computer lab.”

“Academy of READING and Academy of MATH have been great for Sebeka,” 1st grade teacher Kari Carlson said. “It offers individualized instruction at a level our students understand. It not only helps struggling students, but allows many students to excel and actually test out of their reading grade level. Our next challenge will be to keep up with our second graders who are now reading at a fourth grade level.”

In addition to providing a benchmark for student proficiency, AutoSkill’s assessment and placement feature also allows educators to more easily identify those students that might be in need of additional academic assistance. As part of Sebeka’s “Targeted Services” program, struggling students attended an after school program two days per week — spending an additional 45 minutes per week on the Academy or READING and Academy of MATH. Again, the results were outstanding — seven of nine 2nd graders placed in “Targeted Services” made gains of at least two grade levels in reading and all made significant gains in both reading and math.

“The gains by our students in reading and math are great,” Fjeldheim said. “But another thing I like about the programs — especially Academy of MATH — is that kids get introduced to concepts in the program before they are introduced in the classroom. Our teachers are finding that they are able to move through their regular curriculum must faster because kids have already been exposed to many of the ideas.”