Going Above and Beyond in All Elementary Grades in Fortville, Indiana
Going Above and Beyond in All Elementary Grades in Fortville, Indiana
Fortville Elementary School, Mt. Vernon Community School Corporation
Fortville Elementary School is located in Hancock County, Indiana, just east of Indianapolis, a primarily rural area surrounded by farm land that continues to grow with each passing year. With a student population ranging across many socioeconomic classes, some students who live in million-dollar homes while others come from government-subsidized housing.
“That creates a lot of gaps in terms of our students, and then creates big needs for our teachers to fill, and that can be tricky when you’re trying to teach students based on different entry levels and all their different experiences,” said Fortville Elementary School Principal Stacy Muffler.
To address these challenges, school leaders searched for digital content that could reinforce classroom learning and allow students to practice skills, while supporting student growth. Fortville Elementary students were already using the NWEA™ MAP® Growth™ for interim assessment, so it was important that whatever was put in place could leverage that data to drive learning forward.
In 2015, Mt. Vernon Community School Corporation, the district that includes Fortville Elementary, started partnering with Edmentum to provide a plethora of learning options for K–12 students. At Fortville Elementary, that program makeup started with implementing both Study Island, Edmentum’s K–12 practice and formative assessment program, and Reading Eggs, Edmentum’s foundational literacy program. In 2017, Fortville Elementary also introduced Exact Path, Edmentum’s K–12 adaptive diagnostic and individualized instruction solution. Study Island, as well as Exact Path, offers NWEA integrations used in all K–5 Fortville Elementary classrooms so that learning is driven by MAP Growth assessment scores. Additionally, Reading Eggs plays an important role in K–2 classrooms for phonemic awareness and phonics instruction.
“That NWEA path—the ability of that to sync with Edmentum—is what makes it personalized for us as a district,” remarked Mrs. Muffler. “That makes it meaningful. We’ll use the Study Island component for more of the assessment and the proficiency side of it, but we’re using Exact Path for growth.”
Mrs. Muffler is also the first to acknowledge that each classroom and grade level has found a unique way to employ technology such that it meets their students’ needs and teaching style.
“A lot of our classrooms have blended instruction, so you’ll see maybe a lot of whole-group mini lessons and then small-group teaching and teachers using Exact Path during that time,” remarked Mrs. Muffler. “Or, maybe students are working independently on Exact Path. So, you’ll see that in a blended classroom and maybe even sometimes on an eLearning day or as meaningful homework—sending home lessons on that for students to practice at home.”
Kindergarten teacher Courtney Munsell begins the year with her students working in Reading Eggs to introduce and reinforce letters and sounds. When students begin to develop essential skills in these areas, she introduces Exact Path for a richer personalized learning experience.
“Reading Eggs and Exact Path have been so beneficial, just in the way that they related to the kiddos,” said Mrs. Munsell. “They’re very engaging as far as colors, videos, characters. They don’t even realize that they’re learning. They think they’re playing, and that’s been great too.”
Similarly, with Study Island, the implementation takes on different forms in various classrooms.
“Our 4th grade uses Study Island for RTI,” stated Mrs. Muffler. “Every three or four weeks, [teachers are] going back, using unit assessments to reassess students and their proficiency on what was just taught, and that’s how [teachers are] guiding remediation and flexible grouping.”
Nikki Privett, Fortville Elementary 5th grade teacher, uses Study Island for the learning paths that are created using the NWEA MAP Link integration but also appreciates being able to toggle between that content and on-grade-level practice in alignment with her scope and sequence. Then, toward the end of the school year, when all the curriculum has been taught, she turns to the program to help answer: ‘Who is still struggling with a specific skill?’ and then adjusts her instruction accordingly.
“During [student] data meetings, we talk about: ‘What is your lowest strand?’ and ‘What are you doing to focus your attention on beefing up that portion of your [NWEA] score?’” remarked Mrs. Privett. “And, Study Island is a piece of that. We track their data throughout the year.”
Fortville Elementary teachers have also created a Study Island wall in their school, where students can move their assigned character according to the number of Blue Ribbons earned, Study Island’s metric for standards mastery.
“We’ve been celebrating with students,” said Mrs. Muffler. “They’ll get their name up on the wall. We’ll move that. We’ll celebrate on Twitter when students reach their 100th Blue Ribbon. So, we really try to incentivize our students and make it fun for them.”
Success starts at the individual student level, with students and educators recognizing the learning gains made every day with the help of technology.
“I feel like the one-to-one [technology] has been phenomenal in that, there’s so much information at their fingertips, kids can go as far as they want to go and as far as I want them to go,” said Mrs. Privett. “It gives them so many opportunities to be able to go beyond what maybe my lesson plan is and do far more than I would have been capable of doing as one human in a group of 20-some kids.”
Fortville Elementary teachers are not only feeling the learning gains inside their classrooms but also seeing them reflected on test day.
“We’ve seen growth in NWEA, so we see more and more students meeting their projected growth from beginning of the year to middle of the year in NWEA,” said Mrs. Muffler.
With her 5th grade students in particular, Mrs. Privett added, “And then, with the tracking of the data, kids have been so happy to see, ‘Hey, my NWEA score went up. And look, it’s because I worked on my lowest strand.’ I’ve watched kids’ faces light up when they get that final NWEA score of the year and see how far they’ve come. I really feel think their exposure on Study Island is part of what helps them get there.”
Similarly, Study Island has been a powerful tool as early as kindergarten to help prepare students for future high-stakes testing experiences.
“I know in the past when we didn’t have Study Island, they’d get to the NWEA [MAP Growth Assessment], and they would have no idea what it was,” commented Mrs. Munsell. “They’ve never taken a test or even answered questions on an iPad or device. So, I think that’s been the most valuable tool for us, just that introduction piece, and showing them what it’s like and that relationship to NWEA.”
Ultimately, the state of Indiana is recognizing the good work that schools across Mt. Vernon Community School Corporation are doing.
“All three elementaries have jumped a letter grade, and our state gives each school a letter grade,” noted Mrs. Muffler. “In our performance, we’ve had one school go from a D to an A. Another one from a C to an A. Another from a C to a B. And, so we’ve had three consistent years of improved scores and grades from the [Indiana Department of Education], and one of the big, consistent factors is our use of Edmentum.”
All three elementaries have jumped a letter grade, and our state gives each school a letter grade. In our performance, we’ve had one school go from a D to an A. Another one from a C to an A. Another from a C to a B. And, so we’ve had three consistent years of improved scores and grades from the [Indiana Department of Education], and one of the big, consistent factors is our use of Edmentum.