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The ‘Triple Threat’ Spurring 90% Reading Growth in New Jersey’s Pinelands Regional School District

The ‘Triple Threat’ Spurring 90% Reading Growth in New Jersey’s Pinelands Regional School District

No single technology program is the be-all and end-all in any school or classroom. Each one has different goals and a unique “digital ecosystem” to work within. The role of technology—and a strong digital ecosystem—is to fill educators’ toolboxes to help reach those goals. Success is achieved with a full toolbox put to use thoughtfully by skilled educators.

Such was the case at Pinelands Regional School District in New Jersey, which has found a unique “triple threat” blended learning approach that works for its junior high school English department. Instead of relying on a single online program to support reading and language arts instruction, teachers in the department leverage three different programs to fill three distinct needs—a core curriculum program for whole-group instruction, another for independent reading, and Study Island for targeted supplemental practice.

“I asked my teachers—tell me the student that did the most practice [with Study Island] . . . and those students had the highest grades on our standardized tests,” said Gina Frasca, the district’s secondary English/language arts director. “We actually had somebody that almost got a perfect score.”

But, to serve as effective practice for the foundational curriculum, Study Island needs to align with the skills being taught during instruction. After just recently implementing the district’s core curriculum program, Ms. Frasca and her team of teachers are working hard to pair whole-group instruction units with appropriate Study Island skills practice activities. Then, independent reading is used to reinforce those skills and to help students explore interests and build ownership over their learning.

Ms. Frasca reports that the students’ and teachers’ hard work is paying off:

“We get a score from 1 to 100 on growth [on the state’s accountability report,] and our growth for English language arts was a 90.90 percent growth.”

Looking to the future, Ms. Frasca is hoping to replicate the success of the triple threat approach for the 29 percent of district students receiving special education services for reading. These students get time to work in small groups with special education teachers, and Ms. Frasca is working to implement a similar three-pronged system of core instruction, independent reading, and skills practice. However, she wants to include an additional diagnostic component for more intensive, prescriptive remediation. Ms. Frasca and her team are currently in the process of evaluating several different solutions to fill this need, including Edmentum’s Exact Path.

No matter how Ms. Frasca and the Pinelands Regional School District team choose to move forward, their thoughtful design of an effective digital ecosystem is helping equip teachers with the tools they need to support every student’s success.

Interested in learning more about how other New Jersey educators are seeing real growth with Edmentum programs? Check out how Woodbridge Township School District is using Study Island to motivate students and surpass AYP goals!