Franklin Elementary, Wichita Public Schools — Kansas
Customized Interventions Close Reading Gaps for Struggling Low-Income and ELL-Elementary Students
English language learners (ELL) and early learners with low socioeconomic status typically enter the school system without the foundational literacy skills they need to become successful readers. As a result, many elementary schools are looking for Response to Intervention (RTI) tools that provide increasingly intensive interventions for struggling readers, frequent formative assessments, and high-quality, differentiated instruction that supports the multi-tiered intervention process.
At Franklin Elementary in Wichita, Kan., 89 percent of the students live in low-income households and almost a quarter of them are classified as ELLs. It was following the 2009–2010 academic year, when test results showed that only 57 percent of Franklin Elementary students scored at proficient or above on the state reading test, that school administrators decided they needed instructional and data support to drive a successful RTI model for improved reading outcomes. The elementary school began using Lexia Reading in 2011 as part of a 16-school pilot in the Wichita Public Schools district.
After approximately a year of using the reading program, the percentage of Franklin’s students scoring as proficient in reading rose considerably, to 64.9 percent. As a result of the improved literacy skills within Franklin Elementary and other schools piloting Lexia Reading, the district expanded the program to all of its 57 elementary schools during the 2012–13 school year.
Establishing Effective Intervention
At the beginning of the 2013 school year, Franklin Elementary joined other schools in Kansas in migrating to Lexia’s new program, Lexia Reading® Core5®, as part of the Kansas Reading Initiative (KRI), a two-year, state-funded pilot program in which elementary schools are able to access the new program at no cost. Lexia Reading Core5 enables students to address specific gaps in their learning across the six areas of reading: phonological awareness, phonics, structural analysis, automaticity, vocabulary, and comprehension for all abilities through grade five. “We use Lexia Reading Core5 for intervention across all grade levels,” said Heather Vincent, principal at Franklin Elementary. “We start by using the program’s auto placement feature, which starts each student at the proper skill level and creates a personalized learning path including the number of minutes a student should spend on the program to finish the year at grade level. Our schools’ KRI liaison, Shirley Crosby, has found this feature very valuable for getting students learning faster and obtaining on-grade level skills quicker.”
Students at Franklin Elementary are identified as needing intervention based on individual teacher recommendations and the results from Lexia’s proprietary technology found in its Assessment Without Testing® system. The system gathers norm-referenced performance data—without stopping the flow of instruction to administer a test—and adjusts each student’s learning path accordingly. Vincent and Crosby receive real-time reports on individual student progress toward mastery on rigorous state standards as well as reports indicating each student’s probability of meeting end-of-year, grade-level benchmarks.
The system also generates individualized action plans recommending structured lessons identifies the proper intensity of instruction necessary to improve student performance and meet grade-level benchmarks. Vincent added, “We reviewed the data from Lexia’s Assessment without Testing feature and it is closely aligned with the school’s mid-year AIMSweb® test scores for our Tier II and III students. Furthermore, the program connects these data to instruction and intervention strategies in real time. We’re very much a data-driven school, and the data doesn’t lie.”
Better Readers; Improved Test Results
The results that Franklin Elementary has realized in terms of student gains are notable. “It has helped ELL students so much; it’s been a real eye-opener for us,” said Crosby. “They’re gaining at two to three times the rate of native-speaking students.” Across all grades, students receiving reading intervention averaged a gain of 30 points on the winter 2014 test; while some students saw even greater gains. The largest was by a Tier II fifth grader who achieved a gain of 69 points on her reading test scores, going from a score of 109 on the fall 2013 test to one of 178 for the winter 2014 test. “Core5 does an exceptional job of closing and, in many cases, eliminating the gaps in knowledge and understanding,” Vincent said. “It’s excellent at getting kids to proficiency and beyond.”