School Board Doubles Math Learning for Grade 4 Students

Results at a Glance

During the first year using DreamBox Learning® Math grade 4 students experienced nearly a year and a half of growth within the curriculum—followed by two years of growth during the second year. Students are not only better able to connect learning concepts to real-world concepts, but parents are also more engaged in their child’s learning at school and at home.

Fast Facts

  • Grades K–12
  • 86 Elementary Schools

DreamBox Implementation

  • Focuses on grade 4 students and connecting parents with math learning
  • Supports a rotational Blended Learning model, as well as whole group, and small group instruction
  • Requires usage at home
The ideas of adaptive learning and comprehensive differentiation are based in research and complement the latest strategies that we’re adopting in our district, like manipulatives and blended learning. DreamBox Learning Math is adapting all the time, so it complements our teachers’ methods.
Terri Blackwell,

Principal of School Programs,
Halton District School Board

Extends Learning Beyond the Classroom

Challenge

Improve math proficiency by building a strong conceptual foundation

Recognizing that building a strong conceptual foundation was necessary to increase grade 6 math proficiency, the district focused its efforts two years earlier—on grade 4 math—adopting research-based practices and increasing opportunities for deeper learning that align with the districts vision for personalized, adaptive instruction.

“Research in math instruction points toward a need to personalize learning and differentiate instruction,” remarks Terri Blackwell, Principal of School Programs in the Halton District School Board. “To do this effectively, we needed to create an inclusive culture that supports our students, our teachers, and our parents.” The challenge, however, is creating a scalable, sustainable way to:

  • Provide opportunities for teachers to develop new strategies for teaching conceptual understanding of mathematical concepts
  • Extend math learning beyond the school day by engaging parents in student learning

Solution

Translate online teaching and learning strategies to classroom instruction

“To achieve our goal, we realized that we needed to add a digital component to our curriculum that aligned with the district’s instructional vision,” Blackwell explains. “Halton is increasing the emphasis on integrating teaching strategies that focus on using number sense and conceptual understanding. For example, students often work on mental math problems in their head through strategies learned via manipulatives.”

Halton chose DreamBox Learning Math, which is aligned to the Ontario Curriculum Expectations, as the online adaptive learning solution for the district and the primary means of engaging students virtually in sense-making math experiences. Adaptive learning is key in any blended learning strategy, but especially in the rotation model that Halton employs. During the school day, students move between whole group instruction and independent work in DreamBox, which adapts to their specific instructional needs whether they require additional support or are ready to accelerate.

Increase family engagement

Ease of use and access via the web across multiple devices means students can continue to play DreamBox at home, also serving as a springboard to generate more engagement from the families in the district.

Parents not only receive regular automatic email updates from DreamBox regarding their child’s learning progress, they also participate in frequent parent seminars hosted by Blackwell, where she explains the district’s overall math strategy and how DreamBox fits into their goals for the students. “It’s important to provide information to parents in how DreamBox supports the Board’s Math Plan, as well as the connections with the instructional strategies that teachers are using in the classroom. We have also provided this learning in a webcast to differentiate ways of engaging our parents,” Blackwell offers.

The school board recently surveyed families about the new direction in math instruction. The majority of parents said their students were using DreamBox for at least 30-60 minutes per week at home, and most noted that their child’s confidence in math is improving.

Results

24/7 learning that puts strategic goals within reach

Halton quickly realized the benefits of creating a greater school-to-home connection for their students. Within the first year of incorporating DreamBox, grade 4 students experienced nearly a year and a half of growth within the DreamBox curriculum. The momentum continued during the second year with students experiencing over two years of growth.

“With DreamBox Math the way students learn concepts and the way teachers teach them has improved, in that the models students use in DreamBox are the models teachers use to represent student thinking.” says Blackwell.

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The scaled score growth from Fall 2016 to Spring 2017 of students in Grades 1–7 who completed at least five DreamBox lessons per week was 97 percent higher than the STAR growth of student who didn’t use DreamBox. Furthermore, approximately 80 percent of Fayette County’s K–5 math teachers are now fully and consistently on board with small group instruction and DreamBox. Most educators confidently engage in routine, small group models using DreamBox as a key part of their rotation.
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Westport K–5 Elementary School

Driving Personalized Math Instruction in a Title I Focus School

In 2016, Westport achieved a 98 percent growth in student standards on DreamBox. In September 2016, 56 percent of students were working on first grade standards, and by October, 10 percent of that group had moved up to second grade standards. “Immediately we started seeing change,” says Dorsey. By the end of the year in May, only 5 percent of the population were still working on kindergarten standards. The school’s proficiency on an external District Standardized Assessment increased by 36 percent, the largest amount in several years. As Dorsey says, “We know that DreamBox is helping us bridge the gap to make significant growth for students.” Dorsey indicates, not only does it bridge the gap, but also assists with grade level expectations and growth.
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