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Dunklin R-5 (MO) School District

/Academy Interventions

Download PDF version of this articleNestled in the townships of Pevely and Herculaneum in the heart of Jefferson County, Missouri, the Dunklin R-5 School District embraces the motto, “Excellence expected, no excuses!” While students might occasionally attempt the classic “my dog ate my homework” excuse, after AutoSkill, no one in this district will be able to say they couldn’t read their assignments.

Known as one of Dunklin’s “BRAG” Coordinators — short for Black Cats Reach Academic Goals — Amanda Macke implemented AutoSkill’s Academy of READING® program at Herculaneum High School in January of 2007. More than 30 freshman students met after school three days a week. As a result, Macke has some first-semester results she and her “black cats” can brag about.

“I was surprised with some of the methods that AutoSkill used. I didn’t know if it would work and then — it did! That was really exciting — it turned out it was exactly what the students needed to succeed.”
Amanda Macke, Biology Teacher & BRAG Coordinator

Of the 30 freshmen enrolled in the program, STAR testing data was available for 22 students. Nearly half of the students increased their reading skills by at least one grade level after just one semester using Academy of READING. Several students made even larger gains, including:

  • Seven students improved more than two grade levels
  • Four students improved more than three grade levels

District administrators had initially presented the information to the Dunklin Board of Education in 2006 and requested funding for the AutoSkill program. After the board was confronted with the fact that many freshmen had received poor STAR results in reading and math, they approved the administration’s request to fund the program. The board was also interested in working toward achieving the literacy goals included in the district-wide Comprehensive School Improvement Plan (CSIP) which mandates that all students will read at reading level by 2008.

Thanks to the Academy of READING, Macke is confident that the Dunklin R-5 District is getting closer to that goal.

“The kids who are using it and actually putting time into it are improving their reading skills,” Macke said. “One student has gone from an 8.2 reading level to a 12.1 reading level (STAR) in just six months.”

Motivation plays a major role in the Academy of READING’s success in schools around the country. Educators find the program resources helpful in monitoring improvement, and the students at Herculaneum take great pride in keeping track of their accomplishments on the progress chart provided by AutoSkill.

“I was surprised with some of the methods that AutoSkill used, I didn’t know if it would work and then — it did! That was really exciting — it turned out it was exactly what the students needed to succeed. Even at the high school level, my students get excited when they put stickers on the progress chart,” said Macke.

Based on extensive research and proven in thousands of elementary, middle and high schools across the country, the award-winning Academy of READING 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 skill development and learner motivation.

At Herculaneum, their mission is to create a positive learning community that will prepare all the students to attain their highest level of achievement in becoming responsible, productive and caring citizens. The Academy of READING helps to fulfill that mission.

“We are pleased with the AutoSkill program at the high school. Our program is two fold in that we have time on AutoSkill program as well as time for students to work on homework,” said Andy Runzi, Principal at Herculaneum. “Our efforts are directed towards our freshman class and we have seen results regarding their reading level and their overall class work. Our attendance in this program has increased over the past year.”

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.

“When I first heard about the successful experience a neighboring district (De Soto) had, I wanted to see if it could work with our students. Now that we’ve been using it for almost a year, I would recommend the Academy of READING to another school,” Macke said. “I feel that it provides students an opportunity to work at their own pace and have an individualized program that meets their specific needs.”