Making gains in varied learning environments
Reaching every student, everywhere
The Christina School District in Delaware, comprised of both urban and suburban schools with a diverse group of learners, was interested in how technology could be used to improve their math instruction while still giving individual schools and teachers as much autonomy as possible. Adopting a blended learning strategy for math provided many opportunities for educators to integrate technology into their teaching.
They needed a rigorous, flexible, and personalized solution that would support their transition to the Common Core and provide the data needed to inform instruction, and a game-based environment that could engage their diverse student population. It also needed to be easy enough to use in multiple environments, including Response to Intervention (RtI) pullout classrooms, computer labs, classroom.
Data and instruction where it’s needed
Three of Christina’s elementary schools began a pilot with DreamBox in 2011, using the program mostly in a rotational model on classroom PCs and laptops. One school, Bancroft Elementary, made the system available to its before- and after-school programs while another, Brookside Elementary, allowed at-home access. The results were so encouraging that four other schools in the district recognized the need to bring DreamBox into their classrooms.
There is a considerable need for reporting to outside stakeholders, especially when working under a race to increase math proficiency in ELL specifically, moving from 13 percent of Grades 3–5 at standard to 50 percent proficient. Laura Brace, Elementary Math Curriculum Specialist for the district, leads their efforts in the effective use of student data to inform personalized learning plans for students and core instruction time. She attributes this increase in math achievement scores from the Race to the Top (RTTT) grant, and Christina’s teachers particularly liked the wealth of data that was made available to them. “The Common Core Standards Report,” said Shannon Freel, a teacher at Bancroft, “helps me to see exactly what areas the students are working on and passing. I can also see where they are having difficulty and spending more time. I use the data for small group time where I can focus on specific areas.”
Working in every situation teachers can dream up
District wide, six of Christina School District’s elementary schools are now using DreamBox—although each has chosen to use the system in a different way. For example, Leasure Elementary has found success using DreamBox as a pullout intervention for RtI Tier 2 and 3 struggling learners; Bancroft has made DreamBox a key piece of their summer program (Stubbs Elementary plans to follow suit this summer); and Oberle Elementary has shared DreamBox logins with local daycare providers and the Boys and Girls Club so students can spend additional time with DreamBox outside of school hours. However, all of the schools still have the rotational blended learning model available in their classrooms, making greater “DreamBox supports my teaching by ‘filling in gaps’ that [students] may have in knowledge,” said Christine Jimenez, a bilingual kindergarten teacher at Oberle. “Students come with a wide variety of skills and on vastly different levels. It also helps that I can give the students an interactive game aligned to the Common Core that I can have them do independently while I rotate teaching math in small, flexible groups.”
Progress Throughout the Year
Delaware assesses student achievement in both the fall and the spring, which makes learning gains especially visible, and among the schools that use DreamBox in the Christina School District, that growth is striking. Brookside, a suburban school, had only 17 percent of their Grade 3–5 students meeting expectation in math in the fall of 2012, but in the spring, that number had increased to 61 percent—an improvement of 43 percentage points! At Pulaski Elementary, a more urban school, only 6 percent of students were proficient at the beginning of the year, but by the end of the year, 43 percent were considered to be working at grade level. Oberle saw a 39 percent increase in math proficiency by ELL alone, moving from only 13 percent of Grades 3–5 at standard to 50 percent of students proficient.
“DreamBox has been instrumental in helping our teachers address gaps in conceptual understanding and maximizing instructional time in the classroom.”
—Laura Brace, Elementary Math Curriculum Specialist
Laura Brace, Elementary Math Curriculum Specialist for the district, leads their efforts in the effective use of student data to inform personalized learning plans for students and core instruction time. She attributes this increase in math achievement scores directly to DreamBox. “DreamBox has been instrumental in helping our teachers address gaps in conceptual understanding and maximizing instructional time in the classroom.”
Melissa Brady, an assistant principal in the district, sums up why DreamBox is spreading among the Christina schools. “I was a huge supporter of bringing DreamBox to Stubbs Elementary after seeing great success with it while I was assistant principal at Oberle last year. We saw a huge increase in our math scores in one year and the only thing we did differently was use DreamBox. Closing the achievement gap in math is a priority for our schools and I am excited to see the impact it will have on our students here.”
With the success of the Christina School District, it’s apparent that DreamBox can be a valuable partner for any school or district interested in changing their math culture, no matter how complex their needs.