In many ways, Bilhartz Elementary in Dallas, Texas, can be thought of as a peek into the future of American education. The grade K-4 school houses a diverse student population in which many learners need special services and differentiated instruction. In the face of these shifting demographics, Bilhartz has found a way to not only exceed the expectations the state has set, but shatter them.
We talk with Bilhartz Principal Pamela Wilson to find out how they’ve turned around student achievement and earned the title of Edmentum’s latest Rock Star school.
What were you looking for when considering online resources for your students and what drew you to Edmentum and Study Island?
Ms. Wilson: I used the product in the past. At that campus, we also achieved double-digit gains in one year at a traditionally low performing campus under TAKS (Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills). We have a high low socio economic and limited English proficient [student] population. The self-paced environment was one of their greatest needs. We needed to be able to track student progress as well as individualize instruction for their specific weaknesses.
How do your blended learning strategies work?
Ms. Wilson: We have a morning tutoring program that uses Study Island, as well as station rotations within the classrooms. It also forms the backbone of our Virtual Summer Program, which seeks to combat the effects of summer learning loss.
Texas’s expectations for their schools are some of the most demanding in the country and are uniform for every school in the state. How did Bilhartz stack up last year?
Ms. Wilson: We beat the state’s expectation for student achievement by 12 percentage points, student progress by 19 percent, and closed performance gaps by 12 percent. We achieved double-digit gains year-over-year (2015 to 2016) in every student group and on every measure. Our growth rate was number one in the whole district. Also, 31 percent of our students qualified in postsecondary readiness when the state only required us to have 12 percent.
The ability to reach every learner, no matter their circumstances, will only become more critical for the nation’s schools. To learn more about the exciting things happening at Bilhartz Elementary, check out their full success story!