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21st Century Students Require 21st Century Solutions in Yuma, AZ

21st Century Students Require 21st Century Solutions in Yuma, AZ
School Name and Location: 
Gila Vista Junior High School
The Challenge: 

Gila Vista Junior High School is ahead of the curve. Yuma, Arizona, where the school is located, has a significant farming population that changes with the seasons, as well as high unemployment. Its students are often on the move and have a lot of background knowledge gaps to fill due to their family's search for work. To address these needs, the school has chosen to be as flexible as possible, including offering summer and extended day programs. "We have a variety of learners at different grade levels," said Rusty Tyndall, the principal of Gila Vista. "Some need basic skill development, while others require individual intervention to fill gaps in their learning."

How They Did it: 

Because of the various programs Gila Vista offers or plans to offer, any supplemental solution it brings on board must be just as flexible as the school itself. So, when it came time to enlist the help of a math achievement and reading comprehension solution, the district adopted Plato Courseware. Three years ago, Gila Vista decided to make it available to its teachers and students because of its ability to engage the students through the tutorials, while it also offers a range of implementation scenarios.

For example, Plato Courseware is used in whole-class and small-group classroom settings. Individual prescriptions are prepared for each student that guide self-directed study with the program. The system is also used extensively in its own remediation elective course, at home for more self-directed practice, and in the summer and extended school day programs that the school offers.


In the three years since Gila Vista started using Plato Courseware, the school's rating from the state has improved from "Performing" to "Performing Plus," a reflection on the school's test scores and AYP. On average, scores for Gila Vista on Arizona's Instrument to Measure Standards (AIMS) test have improved four percentage points in reading and three percentage points in math.

Tyndall expected even more improvement during the 2013 testing cycle. "Benchmark results indicate that we have approximately 70 percent of our students meeting the standards. We began the year at 55 percent."

Anecdotally, Tyndall sees that the students are working harder on Plato Courseware than they would have in the old-fashioned manner. According to Tyndall, the students indicated that they are much more willing to attempt 40 math problems on the computer than with pencil and paper, and they feel that Plato Courseware's tutorials help them better understand math concepts.

The Future: 

The staff at Gila Vista is always busy coming up with new ways to engage and motivate its students. Whatever ideas the staff comes up with, it is confident that Plato Courseware technology will be there for support and to help fill in the background knowledge gaps with which too many of its students start junior high.

Tyndall said, "while there is rarely a single solution to student achievement gaps, it appears that utilzing technology to motivate and support student learning is one ticket that works."

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