Smaller schools can find it challenging to provide remediation services for students who are falling behind the pace of their classmates. With limited resources and instructional time to dedicate to students’ individual needs, Blue River Valley Junior-Senior High School in rural New Castle, Indiana, started searching for a solution.
The school, which serves just under 300 students, took on the challenge of carving out dedicated time for remediation early on. What it lacked, however, was a means to identify a student’s learning gaps in order to make the most efficient use of that time.
“We needed a tool to provide the data and feedback to help inform our decision-making as we regrouped our students and provided targeted individualized instruction,” said Blue River Valley Junior/Senior High School principal Adam Perdue. “With Study Island, we could do both whole-group and individualized instruction.”
How They Did It
Blue River Valley Junior-Senior High School’s remediation strategy is centered around what it calls Targeted Assistance Time (TAT), a block of 45 minutes built into four school days per week. During that time, all students receive targeted instruction in either math or language arts depending on their needs. Every three weeks, students are regrouped based on the data provided by Study Island. Math and English departments have identified “power standards” and prioritized those topics for students at each grade level.
“Teachers help students interface with content and practice using engaging, interactive lessons, pulling their resources and activities from Study Island,” explained Mr. Perdue. “Teachers utilize data from Study Island’s assessments and import data from NWEA’s Measures of Academic Progress to plan activities catered to student needs. After the three week assessment, students are regrouped as needed based on the data. Our data coach, teachers, and administration all have a voice as we discuss the needs of our students in collaboration data meetings.” At the end of each three-week period, the school celebrates the students’ success through a reward system based on Study Island’s Blue Ribbon mastery-tracking functionality.
In the 2015–16 school year, Blue River Valley Junior-Senior High School raised the letter grade it received from the state for the first time since 2010—from a C to a B. Its ongoing NWEA™ MAP® assessment data continues to improve, and Mr. Perdue believes it’s only a matter of time before Blue River Valley Junior-Senior High School is an A school.
“We continue to strive to be the best school in our area, and Study Island has been a great resource for our students and teachers,” said Mr. Perdue. “Our school letter grade went up when a lot of schools went down.”
The district is currently investigating expanding the use of Study Island to the elementary school’s 5th and 6th grade students in order to better prepare learners for the rigors of the promotion to Blue River Valley Junior-Senior High School.