Difference-Making Technology in a High-Tech School in Vallejo, CA

Difference-Making Technology in a High-Tech School in Vallejo, CA
School Name and Location: 
Mare Island Technology Academy
The Challenge: 

The Mare Island Technology (MIT) Academy in Vallejo, California, was the Vallejo Unified School District’s first charter school, which opened in 1999. MIT Academy is split into two schools: a middle school with 450 students and a high school with 400 students.

In both schools, the academic focus is on advancing technology through a project-based curriculum designed to prepare students for college and careers. This novel approach, which truly reflects what students will be asked to do when their days at MIT Academy are over, can be challenging to implement with any online programs due to the flexibility required and the rigorous demands of a high-tech academy like MIT.

“We needed standards-based software that differentiated to student needs at whatever level they were at, while also engaging them,” explained MIT Academy director, Matt Smith. “It also had to be flexible and run well with minimum maintenance.”

During its consideration phase, Smith heard from a superintendent with whom he consulted. She said, “If you want to raise your API by 30 points in a year, get Study Island.” 

How They Did it: 

MIT Academy signed up with Study Island in 2009, which provided an enrichment and remediation technology partner. The academy also brought in Plato Courseware as a credit recovery solution for high school.

Beyond its initial implementation, MIT Academy found additional opportunities to utilize Edmentum’s Study Island and Plato Courseware solutions. “We spent the first two weeks of the second high school semester using Study Island for intensive preparation for the CAHSEE [California High School Exit Exam] using the math and English models,” said Smith. “The results have been spectacular.”

Study Island’s differentiation capabilities have been particularly transformative in the Academy’s Response to Intervention (RTI) structures, where it forms the backbone of the schools’ tier 2 and 3 interventions, as well as assists the classroom instructors with tier 1 students.

For Plato Courseware, Smith noted, “We use the program for students on both ends of the spectrum—credit recovery for the struggling high school students, as well as enrichment opportunities for students who want to complete an MIT Academy technology pathway.” Some of these technology pathways can also lead to state and industry certifications.


Not only are students supported on their way to colleges and careers, but MIT Academy has also received statewide attention for its performance and methodology. The academy’s middle school and high school were chosen for the California Gold Ribbon Schools Award for 2015, which honors outstanding, innovative schools throughout the state. Both schools also were recognized as Title I Academic Achieving Schools for 2014–15. The high school received an additional award for Exemplary Career Technical Education Program in 2015. MIT Academy met all of its Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) goals in 2014 and expects to do the same in 2015. The academy experienced a nearly 100-point Academic Performance Increase (API) increase in the five years since beginning with Study Island.

The Future: 

MIT Academy will continue to build on its success, owing much to the nimble curriculum and the Edmentum-powered technology that supports it.

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