Our Latest Rock Star: Mare Island Technology Academy

Wednesday, June 3, 2015 -- Scott Sterling

The Mare Island Technology (MIT) Academy was Vallejo, California’s first charter program, encompassing a middle school with 450 students and a high school with 400. Both schools’ curricula are fast paced, problem based, and rooted in technology. Some aspects even call for cross-curricular work between math and science and among the humanities. Not only does the program have high technology expectations for any software with which they work but also flexibility is a key demand.

MIT Academy partnered with Study Island back in 2009 to provide enrichment and remediation in the middle school classrooms. Plato Courseware has since been added as a credit recovery solution in the high school. This year, both schools were honored with the California Gold Ribbon Schools Award, were recognized as Title I Academic Achieving Schools, and made a nearly 100-point Academic Performance Index (API) increase since starting with Study Island.

MIT Academy director Matt Smith shares how the middle and high schools approach learning differently and how Study Island and Plato Courseware have fit into that approach.

What were some of your primary concerns when looking for software providers?

Mr. Smith: We needed standards-based software that differentiated to student needs at whatever level they were, while engaging them at the same time. It also had to be flexible and run well with a minimum of maintenance. While we were considering our options, I heard from a superintendent I asked for advice, “If you want to raise your API by 30 points in a year, get Study Island.”

What are some of the more unique ways that you are using Edmentum products at the Academy?

Mr. Smith: We use Study Island for tier 1 RTI instruction at the 6–10 levels as well as in tiers 2 and 3 interventions. The flexibility of the software allows us to instantly differentiate content, so our strong-skilled students can press on, while those students who need remediation can work on their own level.

In addition, we spend the first two weeks of the second high school semester using Study Island for intensive preparation for the CAHSEE [California High School Exit Exam], using the math and English models. In the high school, it’s also used as enrichment for students who want to complete one of our technology pathway programs in digital art, robotics, game design, or programming.

And what do the students think?

Mr. Smith: At various times, we have had groups of students obsessed with earning blue ribbons and competing at the statewide level [through Study Island’s engagement platform]. It’s a win-win: fun for the kids and a great learning experience to boot!

For more on how the Mare Island Technology Academy laid the groundwork for continued success with Study Island and Plato Courseware, check out the whole success story.