The School District of Sheboygan Falls, outside of Sheboygan, Wisconsin, is a small district of three schools and nearly 1,800 students. Recently, Sheboygan Falls Middle School was placed on the state of Wisconsin’s “Title I Focus School” list for achievement gaps in two subgroups of students in math. The list requires the school to adopt certain support for all students, including response to intervention (RTI).
“As part of our Focus School identification, we needed to identify those students who were at risk of not graduating on time with their grade-level peers based on a number of qualifying factors, including attendance, discipline, enrollment, and Wisconsin Student Assessment System (WSAS),” said Sheboygan Falls Middle School principal Meloney Markofski. “We then were required to implement interventions to meet those students’ individual, and oftentimes, multiple needs, and provide evidence to the state as to how we are striving to meet those needs.” Sheboygan Falls needed a partner with those abilities and more.
“The district relies on NWEA™MAP® (Northwest Evaluation Association’s Measures of Academic Progress) assessments as one tool to identify students’ individual strengths and areas of need, both for regular classroom instructional planning, as well as part of our intervention identification,” said Laura Fiorini, RTI and enrichment specialist at Sheboygan Falls Middle School. “In the summer of 2014, we were seeking to identify research-based options for use in our Falcon Time interventions and were excited to add Study Island to our programming.We liked that Study Island and the NWEA were able to partner to support our efforts in meeting all student’s needs.”
Although, initially, the main goal was to support RTI in the middle school, Sheboygan Falls started finding other uses for Edmentum products across the district, including in the elementary school. “[Study Island] will be used as a ‘MorningMath’ intervention for students who are currently on our ‘watch list’ (scored below established percentiles on district measures) to give them an extra dose of math,” said Margie Reiter, RTI teacher at Sheboygan Falls Elementary School. “It will also be used as an enrichment tool for our challenge-level students who are working at an advanced pace for their grade.”
“At the middle school, the use of Edmentum programs has evolved over the years.We have utilized Plato [Courseware] for independent study, credit recovery, as well as for unique homebound situations,” said Fiorini. “We have used [Edmentum] Accucess to support re-teaching, as well as allowing students to explore studies beyond grade level.”
The high school also brought its own set of circumstances to bear. Along with the school’s credit recovery needs,Wisconsin is a state that requires students to take the ACT® as a graduation requirement. “[Edmentum] Accucess has been implemented in our math department to both remediate and accelerate students,” said Janis Jarosch, counselor at Sheboygan Falls High School. “Now that all students are required to participate in ACT, we also want to delve into the ACT components in Plato Courseware.”
By partnering with Edmentum, students were able to take ownership of their learning and truly take responsibility of their educational futures. “It’s crucial for the staff to monitor student progress but at the same time hold high expectations for students,” said Mary Lofy, the district’s director of curriculum and instruction.
As a Focus School, the emphasis of Sheboygan Falls Middle School’s data study was moving students closer to their personal achievement goals through intervention. At the beginning of the 2014–15 school year, 16 students were identified as being at risk. Over the year, 15 of them improved their personal RIT (Rasch Unit) scores according to the school’s internal NWEA MAP data analysis reports. Four students met the required growth goals, allowing them to emerge from intervention altogether. Overall, the school was able to meet and exceed both of the major goals set for it by the state.
At the elementary school, 25 students were identified for intervention. By the end of the 2014–15 school year, eight were able to exit the program. At the high school, students in the credit recovery system boasted an 80 percent completion percentage.
Perhaps the most valuable aspect of the Sheboygan Falls blended learning program is the data it yields.
“We found it very helpful that our RTI team has dedicated time to analyze data when identifying students for our interventions, as well as in working with classroom teachers and interventionists to ensure students are provided the appropriate content in their individualized learning paths,” said Fiorini.
Once the staff of Sheboygan Falls School District got a taste of how blended learning could bolster its RTI efforts, it started thinking about ways for the program to expand. In addition to increasing their use of Plato Courseware and Edmentum Assessments to support the unique needs of various special populations, Sheboygan Falls also sought out educators who were experienced using Study Island, to help mentor other staff as they built the program into all classrooms.
“With just one year of Study Island use under our belt, we recognize the capacity it has for all of teachers and students use, beyond just our ‘Falcon Time,'” said Fiorini. “Content teachers have begun to utilize resources from the Teacher Toolkit to support their universal classroom instruction, as well as to individualize assignments for our students performing above grade level. We are in the process of training our entire staff to use the many Study Island program features in all of our classrooms.”
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