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17% Increase in Math Proficiency

Results at a Glance

Between the 2013 and 2014 Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) testing period, Carlton enjoyed an increase of 17 percent in math proficiency school-wide. Twelve percent more students are now considered "advanced" under their measurement while 9 percent moved out of the "warning" category.

Carlton school improved math with personalized learning

Fast Facts

  • Low-income students: 70%
  • Students with disabilities: 19%
  • English Language Learners: 12%

DreamBox Implementation

  • Multi-age, ungraded classrooms
  • Continuous assessment required for student progress
  • Rotational model including 2 iPad carts
I don't know what we'd do without DreamBox. It fills our unique need better than anything else.
Teegan von Burn,

Assistant Principal,
Carlton Innovation School

Personalized learning powered by continuous formative assessment


Meeting the math learning needs of every student

Carlton Innovation School, sanctioned by Massachusetts through the Innovation Schools program, pushes the boundaries of the existing school model. Carlton, which supports an underserved segment of the city’s population, aims to transform the school into an incubator for fresh ideas in learning. How? By emphasizing a personalized approach to learning which is designed specifically to meet the individual needs of its diverse student body.

With its ungraded, multi-age learning environment, and instruction fueled by constant formative assessment, decisions about student progression at Carlton are determined by whether a student masters the appropriate standards set by the state rather than by grade or age. As this model demonstrates, students don’t learn in a straight line, and without support, teachers can’t hope to differentiate instruction for every student. The challenge that school administrators at Carlton faced was finding a partner who could not only provide a curriculum adaptive enough to meet the needs of each student, but could also provide teachers with insights to engage with students in more meaningful ways.


Building a bridge between data and actionable insights

After evaluating a number of digital math curriculum partners, Carlton selected DreamBox Learning. The curriculum stood out because it uses formative assessment embedded within and between lessons to create the optimal learning experience for every student, every time. The system doesn’t focus on age or grade level. Instead, DreamBox designs a custom path for students, monitoring whether he or she has mastered the objective, and providing support with varying strategies until mastery is achieved. “DreamBox’s approach is similar to a spider web,” says Teegan von Burn. “There are a multitude of ways for the student to progress, but they still end up at the same place—mastery of the assigned standard.”

Students use DreamBox for 20 minutes at a time, at least three times per week, while other students are receiving targeted in-person instruction in small groups. The strategy has been particularly effective during Carlton’s “success block,” which remediates struggling learners with a double dose of support.

The partnership, however, does not end with the student experience. Every piece of data collected by DreamBox is transformed into actionable insights available at a glance through the Insight Dashboards. The insights help educators know when to intervene and when to celebrate success so that they can differentiate classroom instruction more effectively, allowing them to create personalized learning experiences that engage, reach, and teach every student, every day.

“The wide range of learners in each classroom makes it difficult to know where each student is in their learning,” says von Burn. “To really be proactive in meeting all of our students’ needs we have access to data, but we also need to see quickly what that data means.” By looking at student and classroom reports in DreamBox, teachers can make in-the-moment decisions about whether they should stay the course or pivot instruction for each student.


Innovation leads to an increase in learning outcomes

Under Massachusetts Innovation program, Carlton has to meet or exceed strict learning goals in order to retain its status. Thanks in part to the work school administrators have done with DreamBox, Carlton has become a model of what Innovation schools can accomplish.

Between 2013 and 2014’s MCAS testing, Carlton enjoyed an increase of 17 percent in math proficiency school-wide. 12 percent more students are now considered “advanced” under their measurement while 9 percent moved out of the “warning” category.

According to the school’s leadership, DreamBox should get a lot of credit for that growth. “I don’t know what we’d do without it,” says von Burn. “It fills our unique need better than anything else.”

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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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