S. Y. Jackson Elementary School, Albuquerque Public School District, NM
Data Drives Instruction at S. Y. Jackson Elementary
"We have learned to be exceedingly selective, and implement only those programs that are proven to accelerate student learning and save teachers time.”
- Jack Vermillion, Principal, S. Y. Jackson Elementary School, Albuquerque Public School District, NM
Tier 2 students at S. Y. Jackson Elementary School were struggling to achieve grade-level proficiency in literacy due to their skill gaps in phonics. Teachers were challenged to pinpoint which skills caused which students to struggle and how to design their lessons to meet the individual needs of each student.
Educators were using multiple intervention programs to try to support these students, but that made data collection and analysis difficult. It was impossible for them to measure the impact of their efforts accurately. Without specific data to drive their instruction, teachers were at a loss as to how to help every student within the limited time frame of the school day.
S. Y. Jackson Principal Jack Vermillion was determined to come up with a solution for his Tier 2 students and his teaching staff. “We needed a way for teachers to identify and help fill students’ literacy skill gaps to get them on grade level,” stated Vermillion. “That was paramount.”
It was important to Vermillion and his staff to find a solution that supported teachers as well as students. “We have learned to be exceedingly selective, and implement only those programs that are proven to accelerate student learning and save teachers time,” stated Vermillion. A faculty member at S. Y. Jackson brought Lexia Reading Core5® to Vermillion’s attention. He was impressed with how the program was developed to engage and motivate students with its game-like environment, accelerate learning for students who struggle, and equip teachers with detailed progress-monitoring data and scripted, targeted offline instructional materials. The program’s data would allow teachers to monitor each student’s progress, intervene with support when needed, and target their small group instruction appropriately. Based on these benefits, Vermillion decided to implement Core5 for his Tier 2 students in all K–4 classrooms.
Teachers and administrators at S. Y. Jackson quickly realized that the program’s rigorous scope and sequence and adaptive technology could help students of all skill levels. Teachers now use Core5 as both an intervention in weekly 45-minute sessions in the computer lab and as part of their English Language Arts programs.
Kindergarten and first-grade classes use the program with all of their students. Teachers in grades two through five use Core5 primarily for intervention. “I can see a marked improvement in specific literacy skills coming from first-graders entering second grade,” remarked S. Y. Jackson Second-grade Teacher Stacey Baumgartner, “and I know it’s because of the exposure they’ve had to Core5.”
Core5 data support Baumgartner’s observation. End-of-year results for 2016-2017 demonstrate impressive gains with the percent of students working in or above grade level in Core5 increasing substantially from 57% to 98% (see Figure 1).1
Teachers were thrilled with Core5’s data collection and analysis capabilities detailing a student’s proficiency or specifying where that student struggled. Core5’s progress monitoring data relieved them of the arduous and time-consuming chore of collecting and analyzing data themselves and delivered more accurate and actionable information.
The school now had a reliable resource that could help teachers target their small group instruction based on individual student data and deliver that instruction with scripted Lexia Lessons®. “For me, the best part of Core5 is how it pinpoints the precise skill that is causing a student difficulty. I could determine that on my own, but doing that for each of my twenty students takes time, especially since so many students struggle with multiple skills. Core5 saves me a tremendous amount of time by determining which skills each student needs help to master. I design my small group rotations based on Core5 data,” stated S. Y. Jackson Elementary School Kindergarten Teacher Bella Chandler.
Core5 has become a valuable, independent station in classroom literacy rotations. “My students move between working on letter/word recognition and handwriting with my aide; guided reading with me; and self-driven learning on Core5 using iPads,” commented Chandler. “Because of Core5’s explicit, systematic instruction, my kindergarten students can work on Core5 without help or redirection from me. It’s an independent station that’s providing real value to my students. As they are engaged on Core5, I can provide targeted instruction to those students who need it most.”
A Team Approach
“Our teachers work together to ensure student success,” stated Vermillion. “For example, K–2 teachers play an important role in preparing students for assessments in grades three through five. Teachers meet across grades and rely on Core5 grade-level data to identify any areas of whole class weakness. If found, they refocus their instruction to address this need. “Core5 improves both teacher effectiveness and student success,” stated Vermillion.
1Students meeting recommended usage (N=227) at least 50% of the time with at least 20 weeks of use between 8/18/2016–5/30/2017.