Turning around a decline in school-wide math assessment scores
After math scores on state-mandated testing at Kerrick Elementary School in Louisville, Kentucky, dropped for two consecutive years in a row, administrators at this Title I School knew they needed help. New math standards ignited a shift in pedagogy for teachers, who needed support on blending new math practices into their instruction to better help their students develop deeper understanding of math concepts. At the same time, a quarter of Kerrick’s student population is considered transient. This year alone, approximately 100 of the school’s 400 students transferred in or out of the school. What educators noticed is that many of the students transferring into the school, even those considered on grade-level, exhibited gaps in their learning. To make strides in closing these gaps, school administrators recognized that teachers needed to have insight into what those learning gaps are for each student.
Personalized learning solution aligned to their math curriculum
After a thorough review of digital curriculum resources, administrators at Kerrick selected DreamBox Learning Math because it aligned tightly to their approach to teaching math. At Kerrick, math is taught using a C-S-A model, which includes using concrete, semi-concrete, and abstract examples of mathematical processes and concepts. Additionally, they rely on EngageNY (Eureka) and My Math as supports when needed. Goal Clarity Coach Gina Finnell Ziegler observed that DreamBox Learning has similar examples and uses the same visual representations that are comfortable and known to her students. “We find that DreamBox is the most clear-cut way to learn, and teach these [math] concepts— children and teachers are seeing them right in DreamBox versus having to search in the text book,” she says. Ziegler determined that DreamBox Learning could easily narrow in on the gaps, providing teachers with real-time feedback that they could use to enhance students’ math performance. Ziegler knew they needed a program that could identify gaps and help teachers “re-teach” some missed or lapsed skills, while enriching overall learning. “It fit really well with what we were already doing,” says Ziegler.
Blended learning in all math classrooms
DreamBox was initially intended only for math intervention students who required additional assistance, but because it was so easy to blend into different teaching models, it quickly became a key element in all of Kerrick’s K–5 classrooms. Some teachers use it as part of a math workshop rotation, and others use it consistently every day in whole-class instruction for 20- to 30-minute intervals. DreamBox has empowered teachers to more accurately monitor student learning while providing useful feedback to promote growth. It has helped to identify strengths and weaknesses, and to uncover target areas that need work, and then work through those weaknesses. “DreamBox gives us another piece of information to use with our students to determine their instructional needs and to have discussions about how we can differentiate our Tier 1 students while supporting our Tier 2 and Tier 3 students,” Ziegler adds.
Significant increase in math learning outcomes
After using DreamBox for just one year, Kerrick Elementary’s third-, fourth-, and fifth-grade students showed tremendous gains on their statewide exams in May, with 69 percent improving by one performance level. Between the 2014–15 and 2015–16 school years, the fourth-grade cohort experienced a 24.2 percentage point learning gain, and the fifth-grade cohort experienced a 26.1 percentage gain. These gains outpaced the statewide gains of 3.1 percentage points and 6.5 percentage points respectively. In addition, nearly half (49%) of Kerrick’s students entering the third grade during the 2015–16 year tested proficient or distinguished on the state math exam. “We were blown away by the growth. To have that many students increase their performance level was fantastic,” says Ziegler. “Even more important is the math foundation DreamBox is helping to lay: Nearly half of third-graders (49%) tested proficient or distinguished in math.”