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Simplifying Response to Intervention in Detroit, MI

Simplifying Response to Intervention in Detroit, MI
School Name and Location: 
Cornerstone Schools
The Challenge: 

In 20 years, Cornerstone Schools’ Nevada Street Campus has become one of the premier private school options for parents in Detroit. Serving students from pre-K to 11th grade (and adding 12th grade in 2014), most classes operate one to two grade levels ahead of Stanford Achievement Test expectations. 95 percent of students graduate high school, with 91 percent attending post-secondary schooling.

These excellent results do not come easily. Students are expected to receive an individualized approach to their education and need to be remediated quickly if they fall behind. Being a private school system, Cornerstone is more nimble in its curriculum to meet the needs of its students and parents. Cornerstone needed a solution that could provide an individualized approach for its students.

How They Did it: 

More than 10 years ago, Cornerstone partnered with Edmentum Assessments to provide students with individual learning paths in every grade and class, as well as benchmarking and progress analysis to inform the teachers' instruction. "We are a data-driven school, and the testing gives each student and teacher a complete skills analysis of their strengths and needs based upon the skills that need to be mastered by the end of this school year," explained Linda Phillips, Cornerstone's individualized learning coordinator.

Once the pretesting is complete, students in grades 1—8 spend two 45-minute sessions per week in the computer lab with prescriptive content addressing identified deficiencies in math and reading. The high schoolers have their own laptops with prescriptive content available to them, but they also spend one session per week in the lab for their general coursework. Phillips meets with the high school teachers once a week to align their lessons and grades with the results reported by Edmentum Assessments.

In addition, Phillips makes the lab available after school to students who need extra support. Phillips said, ”For the past five years, I have been having ‘Open Lab Tuesdays' after school. This is limited to the first 25 students who sign up to attend. Last year, I did this on Monday and Tuesday, so we were able to have 50 students work an additional hour each week. I still had a waiting list of 15 students for the year.”

According to Phillips, “This integrated use of technology enhances what the classroom teachers are doing every day to differentiate instruction for students. The software provides immediate feedback to students using an interactive tutorial, guided practice, and mastery tests at each skill level.”

Success: 

Using this blended learning program, Cornerstone is dramatically outpacing the state averages on the statewide Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP) test—by double, in some classes. In addition, Cornerstone was rated the number one school in Detroit for the 2013—2014 year according to Excellent Schools Detroit, which reviews Detroit schools annually and produces a scorecard that measures school quality. The students have a hunger to improve, and the teachers and other staff make themselves available to facilitate that need with the help of Edmentum Assessments.

"As a data-driven school, Edmentum's programs have assisted us by providing robust, individualized data in real-time that helps us meet our students' needs," said President and CEO Ernestine Sanders. "What we have been able to ascertain is that by fully integrating the Edmentum programs, our students are making measurable gains inside the classroom and on standardized tests."

More impressive are the individual stories of students who dramatically altered their educational trajectory in a short period of time. Phillips does not hesitate to share those stories: “I had a student at the end of her 6th grade year who did not pass the MEAP, scoring a level 3 low on the MEAP. This was an improvement from a 4 high on the MEAP from the year before [scores are classified in descending order on the MEAP, with levels 1 and 2 considered passing]. Using Edmentum Assessments, she had progressed from not passing MEAP at the beginning of the year, even with improvement, to being two years and four months above grade level in math at the end of the year.”

Phillips said, “I watched another student who was targeted for math remediation start to master two or three modules per class as we neared the end of the first 10 weeks of school. Average module mastery at Cornerstone is one per class period. She, too, had learned to like the success. Her true measures came during end-of-year testing when her standard math was at PHS. Yes, that is ‘Post High School’ level in 7th grade.”

The Future: 

As Cornerstone Schools adds a 12th grade class to its campus, along with more course options for its demanding student population, the school knows now that its long history of success with Edmentum Assessments will continue to help it distance itself from the other public and private schools in the Detroit area.

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