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Accelerating Learning Recovery in New Salem, North Dakota

Accelerating Learning Recovery in New Salem, North Dakota

Prairie View Elementary School of New Salem-Almont School District serves 165 elementary students in the small New Salem, North Dakota, community. Recently, I had the pleasure of connecting with Principal Lauren Bennett to learn how educators and students alike are forging a new path toward academic growth in partnership with Edmentum.

“We knew, going into this year, we were going to have a lot of challenges and learning gaps,” remarked Mrs. Bennett. “We really needed to hit it hard with some intervention that was good for all kids.”

Unsurprisingly, this story is all too familiar nationwide. In a schoolyear crippled by learning disruptions, accelerating learning recovery has become the reigning theme.

How It Started

“We were home from, obviously, March until August [2020], and so that was a big drop in education,” reflected Mrs. Bennett. “We knew we needed something. We really liked Edmentum, a company that we had already worked with, so we were really excited.”

Prairie View Elementary became one of many North Dakota schools implementing Edmentum Exact Path, a K–12 diagnostic-driven individualized instruction program, in the 2020–21 academic year. Exact Path has been provided at no cost by the governor’s office of North Dakota and the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction for all North Dakota students through September 30, 2021.

“Our Title I program is who started using it first,” commented Mrs. Bennett. “A couple of times a week, [students needing intervention services] would go on for reading or math, and our Title I teacher really liked what she saw.”

Favorite features and functionality for Mrs. Bennett and her teachers centered around the user-friendly nature of Exact Path. The depth of the instruction, variety of practice, and inability for students to just buzz through without first demonstrating mastery were also elements that quickly stood out.

“Any question I had [about the program] was always answered right away,” remarked Mrs. Bennett. “And, as far as getting all our [student] information in there, it was really nice. It was already in there, so that was really great.”

Flexible professional development and training opportunities have also been an important element for educators looking to increase their Exact Path knowledge. In addition to synchronous learning options, Edmentum offers many North Dakota–specific on-demand training sessions for easy consumption.

“We’re a very small district,” noted Mrs. Bennett. “A lot of us are coaches or bus drivers. It’s definitely not like you’re a classroom teacher and that’s your only role. So, it is really tough to be able to say, ‘OK, we need an hour and a half of your time after school.’ That can be very difficult, so I like this flexibility.”

How It’s Going

In mid-January staff meetings, conversations turned to extending the program’s reach to a schoolwide implementation for all students. Prairie View Elementary offers daily “WIN (What I Need)” time in every classroom, and teachers are always looking for new intervention ideas for struggling students, as well as acceleration opportunities for highflyers.

“It’s not like, ‘Oh, here’s another paper to do’ or like, ‘Let me find something additional to take up some of your time’ but [Exact Path] is something worthwhile that they’re actually going to get something from,” shared Mrs. Bennett.

Additionally, using Exact Path with all students makes regular assessments and progress monitoring actionable. Students at Prairie View Elementary School complete NWEA® MAP® GROWTH™ assessments three times a year, and an integration with Exact Path means that each student can receive a tailored instructional path based directly on those scores.

“I really liked that Exact Path worked with MAP, because we really dive deep with test scores,” commented Mrs. Bennett. “We don’t take the test and then never look at it again. Exact Path allows that intervention based on their test score, putting students where they need to be.”

Those connection points seem to be paying off according to Mrs. Bennett: “We’re seeing our [NWEA MAP Growth] test scores go up, which is amazing, so we know what we’re doing is working. And some of that definitely has to do with the interventions we’re using.”

Assessment data indicate that the future is bright for elementary students in New Salem, North Dakota, and a partnership with Edmentum is offering one powerful tool to the school’s instructional toolbox.

“It’s very difficult to be able to tailor many kids with many different interventions,” concluded Mrs. Bennett. “Teachers are just working so much and are absolutely amazing, and it’s incredibly helpful to be able to have one part of that being taken care of. We feel very lucky to have something that will do that [differentiation] for us.”

The exciting happenings in New Salem-Almont School District represent just one of many success stories being uncovered in the great state of North Dakota. Read about implementations in Fargo Public Schools, Lidgerwood Public School, and Ashley Public school here. If you're a North Dakota educator that has yet to take advantage of free access that is available through September 2021, you can sign up to get started now!

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Madison Michell

Madison Michell has been a member of the Edmentum team since 2014 and currently serves as a Marketing Manager. As a former Kindergarten and 3rd grade teacher during her time as a Teach For America corps member, she believes education truly has the power to transform lives. She is passionate about connecting educators with online programs, best practices, and research that improve teaching and learning for today's students.