While the need for intervention can be obvious to most educators, it’s much more difficult to find the appropriate intervention tools to meet your students’ varying needs. At Wright City (MO) Elementary School, Principal Juanita Deeker has found that the AutoSkill® Suite (which includes the Academy of READING® and Academy of MATH® programs) answers the extremely difficult question many educators face: “how can I help my struggling students?”
“When we went looking for an intervention program, we reviewed many other tools – we were looking for something different, that we weren’t already doing. Struggling students still need to learn the same things, but be exposed to them in a different way,” said Deeker. “The AutoSkill programs take a child from where they are and allow them to work at their own progression. At the elementary level we weren’t able to find a program that we liked any better. This program stood out above the others.”
The Academy Suite
K-12 schools and districts can improve achievement in at-risk students of all ages, using the only intervention software package for both reading and math. The AutoSkill Suite combines the latest generation of Academy of READING and Academy of MATH software to provide a proven, consistent, and individualized approach to building fluency in foundation skills. At Wright City, both programs have been used with great success with second, third and fourth graders.
Juanita Deeker, Principal
“One of my students scored “below basic” in math on his placement test in January of 2007. But by the time May rolled around, he went from 1.7 to 4.5. He was at the first grade level, now he’s at the fourth grade level,” Deeker said. “And thanks to the Academy of READING, this same student went up 2.9 reading levels. Somehow what was going on in the classroom wasn’t doing it for him, but with the Academy of READING and Academy of MATH, he was able to succeed.”
Administrators at Wright City coordinate with classroom teachers and the availability of the computer lab to give more than 75 struggling students individualized help. Wright City also offers students the chance to work with the AutoSkill Suite before or after school and during a summer school program. The after-school sessions are popular with the students, many of whom stay for extra sessions and often skip the “fun and games” part of the school’s program to work with the AutoSkill Suite.
“In my opinion, in order to have a successful program, you’ve got to get the staff involved — decisions are very much shared in our elementary school,” Deeker said. “Because when you pull a child out of the classroom, the teachers need to support the program and see the value in that. The AutoSkill Suite works.”
The developers of the AutoSkill Suite 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.
“We look for those kids who fall through the cracks, they don’t necessarily qualify for additional help, but they need additional help. Working with the Academy of READING and Academy of MATH really builds confidence in the students,” said Deeker. “The students really enjoy working with the AutoSkill Suite. I’ve got three or four students who intentionally will miss recess and stay inside working with The Suite to master their skills.”
For the second graders at Wright City, overall the class average was up 1.3 (some students had up to 3 levels of progress). And those scores will continue to improve if students stick with the program. Some students who stayed in the extra four weeks of summer school, increased that 1.3 gain to a 1.7 gain. The third grade gained 1.1 reading levels, and the fourth grade gained 1.7 reading levels.
“We also have used this with kids who are more advanced than their classmates. It’s more of an enrichment tool for them,” Deeker said. “One boy was a behavior problem because he was beyond where his peers were — this was something he could do that challenged him in a different way.”
The AutoSkill Suite is proven to deliver results for struggling students and occasionally the programs have surprising additional benefits — such as increased parental involvement.
“In addition to just data, we have found a lot of qualitative benefits of the AutoSkill Suite. Our parent involvement has increased greatly. The kids who are using this program are usually the kids who have trouble academically in school, so many times these parents don’t want to come up to school after hearing how their kids are struggling; they get frustrated and don’t want to be around,” said Deeker. “Now, the parents come in to pick their kids up, they come in to see what kids are doing. Now, they are involved in school and like visiting with the teachers. This new parent rapport has been a great bonus that we never even dreamed of!”
At Wright City, the teaching staff supports the AutoSkill Suite program fully. The Title 1 Director, Susie Busekrus, has been so impressed by the Academy of READING that even though she recently retired, she still comes in Monday-Thursday to help maintain the program.
“Another added bonus for the school is that whenever we have students stay after school or come to summer school the district receives extra funding because we get to count extra attendance as long as there’s a certified teacher there,” said Deeker. “And most of the kids really like the technology aspect of The Suite. Instead of paper and pencil, they get to experience the interaction with the technology — they love the puzzles, the kids are wild about it!”