Achieving Outstanding Reading and Math Growth in San Diego, Texas
Achieving Outstanding Reading and Math Growth in San Diego, Texas
Collins-Parr Elementary, San Diego, Texas
Collins-Parr Elementary is located in the small South Texas town of San Diego. Over the last several years, Collins-Parr Elementary has received a state accountability rating of “Met Standard” from the Texas Education Agency (TEA), but the school has always sought to improve outcomes for its students, 80% of whom are economically disadvantaged.
In 2017, Collins-Parr Elementary won the competitive Texas Title I Priority Schools Grant (TTIPS), which is a four-year grant designed to help eligible schools substantially raise their achievement levels. One of the grant program activities is to purchase a math and reading program for early learning and response to intervention (RTI). Because Collins-Parr Elementary already used Reading Eggs, Edmentum’s learn-to-read program, with its small English language learner (ELL) population and the district’s high school used Courseware, Edmentum’s customizable course offerings for grades 6–12, the school began its search for a new program with Edmentum.
In the spring of 2017, Yvonne Muñoz, the TTIPS project director at Collins-Parr Elementary, and Graciela Pizzini, the former curriculum director and current assistant superintendent, began to evaluate Exact Path, Edmentum’s K–12 individualized learning solution.
“We got to see it live, and we got to play with it, and I was sold,” explained Mrs. Muñoz. “Since you all had reading, math, and language arts, it was perfect. I didn’t have to seek two different programs—one for reading, one for math. It was all in Exact Path.” After Mrs. Muñoz shared what she learned about Exact Path with Monica Perez, Collins-Parr Elementary principal, and the school’s teachers, Mrs. Perez decided to move forward with Exact Path.
Collins-Parr Elementary began its Exact Path implementation in the fall of 2017, and based on the guidelines of the grant, the school targeted the foundational grades, enrolling all kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grade students into the program. For 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades, those students who were lacking the skills that they would need to be successful on the Texas state assessment (STAAR), identified as tier 2 and 3 intervention students, were enrolled in the program.
“Once you take the [Exact Path] diagnostic, it puts you on a learning path that's prescribed just for you,” said Mrs. Muñoz. “Every student is on a different learning path. If a student in 4th grade is performing really low, they're going to be able to practice those skills at that level, whether it's kindergarten, 1st grade, [or] whatever it may be."
To see that the program was utilized sufficiently to effect positive change, teachers were expected to make sure that students used Exact Path for at least 20 minutes a day, with two days a week on math, two days a week on reading, and one day a week on language arts. The grant funding allowed the school to buy additional devices, which gave teachers increased flexibility in determining when they would build those 20-minute slots into their schedules. Once decided, they shared their scheduled Exact Path times with Mrs. Muñoz so that she could monitor program usage.
“I like that I can go in and I can view the usage per teacher. I monitor that just at a glance,” said Mrs. Muñoz. “It’s very easy to look at the reports to see the usage.”
While students receive individualized instruction from Exact Path, teachers use the data from the program to target specific skills in tutoring groups.
“I think what the teachers like about it is how they are able to monitor students’ skill performance. Once they click on a skill, it gives them additional resources to reinforce that skill. They don’t have to go look for other resources since it is all there for them. They are able to take the lesson plan that is provided and use it in small group instruction. The teachers were just amazed when I showed them this report because it gives them all of the information that they need.”
To motivate students to do their best on their learning paths, one teacher started encouraging students to call her over each time they finished a quiz. If students earned a score of 80% or higher, they would earn a ticket that they could use for the treasure box at the end of the week. This idea was shared across the campus, and many other teachers began implementing their own incentive plans as well. This additional form of motivation also paired nicely with the mastery trophies and teacher challenges already built-in to the digital interface to drive engagement.
In addition to using Exact Path at school, students are also encouraged to use the program at home. Collins-Parr Elementary allocated some of its grant funding to purchase tablets with built-in Internet service. Parents are able to check out the devices, complete with shortcuts to Exact Path and other learning resources, for their students to use at home. Mrs. Muñoz shows the parents how to use the tablets, and teachers send home the printable parent letters and login cards that are available within the program.
“I have heard some good comments from parents saying that it has helped their child with school,” Mrs. Muñoz relayed. “I had a mom approach me last year who told me that her son had done so well, and she was so thankful that I had to let her check out the tablet. . . . She said, ‘Oh my gosh, it helped my son so much because you let him take it home to practice Exact Path.’”
On the first Exact Path diagnostic assessment, only 36% of students were placing into curriculum on or above grade level, and by the second diagnostic, that number had risen to 55%. By the last diagnostic, the percentage of students working at or above grade level had grown to 79%, with the growth being even more pronounced in kindergarten, first, and second grades—the grades in which more students were using the program.
“If you compare our first diagnostic, then you go to the second, and then you go to the third diagnostic, you will see that we had huge gains from using the program,” explained Mrs. Muñoz. “We were able to decrease the numbers of students that were not on grade level by the end of the year—and drastically.”
“If you compare our first diagnostic, then you go to the second, and then you go to the third diagnostic, you will see that we had huge gains from using the program. We were able to decrease the numbers of students that were not on grade level by the end of the year—and drastically.”