Muhlenberg North Middle School, in rural western Kentucky, experienced difficulty in transitioning to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Under the previous Kentucky state standards, the school had been consistently making Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) and reaching 70 percent proficiency. However, after CCSS implementation and the start of the accompanying Kentucky Performance Rating for Educational Progress (K-PREP) testing during the 2011–12 school year, Muhlenberg North found itself in the 38th percentile ranking statewide and was classified as “needs improvement” by the Kentucky Department of Education.
The school needed a way to gain insight into which students would struggle on the new CCSS tests so that it could remediate as necessary. The earlier that these students could be identified, the greater the chances of their success in the intervention program.
All of the schools in the Muhlenberg County School System had already been using Study Island in a limited capacity for several years. In response to its low test scores, Muhlenberg North Middle School decided to expand its usage in order to take advantage of the program’s K-PREP preparation and progress monitoring capabilities that are designed to measure student achievement gains.
“Students take the diagnostic test early in the school year so we can see strengths and weaknesses in relation to the standards,” reported Muhlenberg North curriculum specialist Kelly Melton. “From there, instruction is given, and assignments are completed in Study Island. Then the post test is given to check for growth. It also indicates the student’s level of proficiency. Study Island has been amazingly accurate with its prediction of proficiency level in regard to K-PREP scores.”
The turnaround for Muhlenberg North since its “Needs Improvement” days is nothing short of impressive. The school was unaccepting at being ranked in the 38th percentile for proficiency statewide in the first year of K-PREP testing. After expanding its use of Study Island for the 2012–13 school year, Muhlenberg North reached the 56th percentile. It was still classified as “Needs Improvement”, but it was also recognized by the label of “Progressing.” By the close of the 2013–14 school year, it had reached the 86th percentile statewide and was only 0.7 proficiency points away from the top “Distinguished” classification.
One of Muhlenberg North’s science teachers, Carlos Tatum, kept track of Study Island’s proficiency scores in comparison to what his students actually scored on K-PREP tests. In 2012–13, the system projected that 80 percent of his students would achieve proficiency. When testing was over, 77 percent actually did, and the program had been successful in identifying those students who were most at risk. In 2013–14, Study Island’s projections were again only 4 percent away from the final K-PREP results.
“I believe Study Island has helped us find the weak spots and allowed us to focus on those areas required to see growth in our students,” explained Melton. “I know that the diagnostic test/posttest is extremely accurate. They have been spot on each year we have done the analysis. Our school has seen growth over the past few years, and I believe that our teachers will say that Study Island has helped them prepare our students for the future.”
The testing landscape is always in a state of flux. Being able to accurately make data predictions put Muhlenberg North Middle School steps ahead of other schools in the state, enabling it to target instruction in order to achieve a remarkable turnaround in just two school years. The school will continue to put its faith in Study Island in an effort to become a top middle school in the state of Kentucky.
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