Wilson Elementary has a demographic profile that, statistically speaking, may be less than optimal. Nearly half the students are eligible for free/reduced lunch, qualifying the school for the Title I program. A significant portion of the students are English language learners, to the point where the school is considered dual language. And yet, through the dedication and enthusiasm of its teachers and administrators, and with more than a decade of help from Study Island, Wilson Elementary is the highest performing Title I school in its district, with passing rates well above state and district averages.
When Wilson Elementary first investigated acquiring a supplemental educational program, it was looking for a solution with stringent alignment to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS), a rigorous curriculum, and the ability to address its significant Spanish-speaking population. The school was not looking for a replacement for its dedicated staff but rather a source of more targeted practice in math, reading, and science for its 3rd through 5th grade students—with all materials and tests available in Spanish. Study Island ticked all of those boxes more than ten years ago.
The school requires use of Study Island in the classroom as a supplement to the quality instruction that is already delivered. Additionally,Wilson Elementary has set up a dedicated computer lab that is made available by reservation. Because of the popularity of the program with the students, Study Island has also been made available for use at home. This usage equates to Wilson Elementary’s nearly 300 grade 3–5 students being responsible for over 6,000 hours on task over the course of the 2012–13 school year, answering nearly half a million questions correctly.
Wilson Elementary's principal, Audrey Staniszewski, credited motivation as the determining factor for why the students are so engaged with the program: “The students receive Blue Ribbons for meeting their goals.We set the goals, track them on posters in each classroom, and then go out of our way to celebrate with the students when they meet those goals.”
Over the past 10 years,Wilson Elementary has been rated Exemplary in state accountability ratings seven times. It is Denton Independent School District's highest performing Title I school and one of the district’s most consistent performers overall. According to its most recent NCLB report card, 95 percent of Wilson Elementary’s students met or exceeded standards in reading, while 93 percent did so in math. State averages are 88 percent and 84 percent, respectively.
Most notably, 94 percent of Wilson Elementary’s ELL students are meeting the standards in reading and language arts, a number almost unheard of in ELL education. The state average is 78 percent.
Staniszewski sees no reason to fix something that isn’t broken. Though Wilson Elementary is always looking for ways to improve, its partnership with Study Island will proceed just as it has for the past decade. But, she does have some advice for other schools looking to duplicate Wilson Elementary’s remarkable success: “It is not enough to buy the product, but set goals, enforce compliance, and celebrate results. Nothing replaces good initial instruction, but practice does make perfect!”
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