The Northwestern Consolidated School District of Shelby County, Indiana (NWCSD), is a rural district with nearly 1,500 students in three schools. As of the 2012—13 school year, the district as a whole was underperforming, receiving a C-grade from the Indiana Department of Education. Triton Central High School was listed as a D-grade school.
In response, district leadership, including Superintendent Dr. Shane Robbins, turned their sights toward technology with the goal of putting a device in every student's hand to create a truly blended learning environment.
“We had a variety of initiatives and a vision of being a 1:1 computing district," reported Robbins. "We needed a solution that would tie together our overall goal of elevating all of our buildings to A status, as well as the district as a whole.”
Adopting a 1:1 strategy was only part of the process. NWCSD also needed to find the right education technology partners to provide the interactive learning content, reporting insight, and flexibility that students and teachers need to make lasting learning gains.
As a part of the 1:1 initiative, every elementary student in NWCSD has access to an iPad® at school. The middle and high school students are issued Chromebook™ notebook computers that can be used at school and taken home. In addition, NWCSD selected programs that provide content and practice that address individual students' needs.
“After we went 1:1, we turned to Edmentum to provide tools and digital resources for all of our teachers and students,” explained Robbins. Those resources include Plato Courseware for all of the content classes, Study Island for test preparation, Reading Eggs to improve literacy in the lower grades, and EdOptions Academy for credit advancement, recovery, electives, and summer school.
“Edmentum’s Plato Courseware has given Triton Central High School the ability to become a true blended learning environment where differentiation and creativity became normal best practices in the classroom,” said Robbins. “And Study Island allows us to have an individual learning plan for each one of our students. This plan is designed to meet them at their learning levels and allows us the tools to offer better differentiation in our classrooms.”
Edmentum’s solutions have exceeded NWCSD’s expectations by making learning personalized, engaging, and effective. “The varied resources available have assisted our teachers in maximizing the usage of our 1:1 computing environment,” said Robbins. Teachers now have more flexibility to differentiate instruction and monitor progress in true blended learning classrooms.
“The students really enjoy having a class discussion over a given lesson and then allowing them to review the lesson on their own and take the practice test questions,” added Triton Central Specialist Bryan Graham.
Perhaps in no other situation does NWCSD’s blended learning model pay off more than during winter weather season. The district is one of 29 approved by the state to call for “eLearning days,” where students can still receive instruction online while at home during a snow day. “Programs like Study Island and Plato [Courseware] have both been outstanding when it comes to eLearning days. It’s like having an instructor there with you at home! The teachers can go online, assign, and then monitor where the students are relating to the lessons,” Graham said.
NWCSD had a bold vision in 2012 to leverage technology in an effort to help every school in the district achieve an A rating from the state. In just two school years, that goal has been realized. All three NWCSD schools, and the district as a whole, earned A grades from the Indiana Department of Education in 2013—14.
In English language arts, the district has gained nearly seven percentage points, with 83.3 percent of students reaching proficiency in 2013—14. The district has been historically stronger in math, but even there, it has gained nearly 8 percentage points with 90.2 percent of students considered proficient. In both measures, the students are now outpacing the state average by more than five percent.
In addition, Triton CentralMiddle School was recognized as a national School toWatch® by the Indiana Middle Level Education Association (IMLEA), and Triton Central High School was designated a Four Star School by the Indiana Department of Education.
Superintendent Robbins credits the district's partnership with Edmentum as a major reason why the 1:1 program has experienced such success in a relatively short period. “We firmly believe our abilities to provide our students with instant feedback and increased engagement—things we receive from Edmentum—have been instrumental in our academic growth,” said Robbins.
District leadership is confident that as more teachers become comfortable with their blended learning opportunities and start leveraging their Edmentum products in more creative ways, they have the opportunity to help every single student who walks through their doors—and even those who can’t, because they are snowed in.
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