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What Happens When 13% of the Student Population Being Identified as Gifted Is Not Good Enough?

What Happens When 13% of the Student Population Being Identified as Gifted Is Not Good Enough?

As the back-to-school season inches closer, educators are setting academic goals and preparing for the incoming class of students. And, in today’s classrooms, a huge part of that preparation is all about the data. The expectation is that, from the beginning of the school year until the end, students demonstrate a full year of academic growth and often even more than that for those students performing below grade level.

We, the Chads, also known as Chad Schoolcraft and Chad Sabo, have been working with schools across northern Ohio as a team for three years so far. In that time, Edmentum has expanded its digital portfolio to offer innovative solutions that target both growth and proficiency. Specifically, our K–12 program, Exact Path, is designed to foster growth, and it has the ability to use current diagnostic scores (from either NWEA™ MAP®, Renaissance® Star®, or Edmentum’s own diagnostic assessment) to create an adaptive pathway targeted to each student’s exact learning needs, providing all the instruction and support that all students need to succeed.

When we began working with Elizabeth Andrachik and Lisa Whelan at St. Angela Merici School in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Cleveland, Ohio, we stumbled upon two highly motivated principals, who had a highly motivated staff who fostered a love of learning. As we spoke with this dynamic duo, it was surprisingly hard to find any significant issues that they were facing. When you think about how schools operate, there are typically some areas of concern that they are looking to address. So, what were they looking to accomplish? That is when Elizabeth told us that they have 13 percent of their students identified as gifted and talented! Scratching our heads as to how this could possibly be a problem, we listened closely.

As we heard more about their unique story, it became very clear that Elizabeth and Lisa had only one thing on their mind. Where they were was not good enough. They wanted even more children hitting the high notes and expected the students who were already there to still go up another octave. They needed a program that could meet each student’s exact learning needs. The challenge they had for us was to do this without disrupting the current success, but rather, enhancing their results even more.

Their implementation kicked off at the beginning of the 2018-19 school year, in time to start making inroads prior to winter 2019 testing. Now that the team at St. Angela Merici School is implementing Exact Path with fidelity, the school is finding that its student performance scores are up even more! When looking at performance for the gifted and talented student population, across the board, winter and spring NWEA MAP scores are up year over year in Grades 1–8 math and reading.

Start by taking a closer look at the math data below. In all grades except for 2nd, scores were higher in the winter of 2019 than they were in the winter of the previous year—often by nearly 10 points. Similarly, spring year-over-year scores rose for every grade level.

If we switch gears to look at reading, you’ll see that a similar story unfolds. In every single grade level, winter 2019 scores are higher than winter 2018, and the same is true for spring 2019 as compared to spring 2018. In many cases, students’ winter 2019 scores are higher than the previous classes final spring 2018 scores—a tremendous achievement that sets the pace for positively trending growth year over year.

Data aside, Elizabeth and Lisa also quickly recognized that, while Exact Path reached each student at his or her level, it was also an all-in-one teacher resource. Long gone are the days of searching through a binder for a worksheet or having to create test questions for a particular skill. Everything is laid out in one complete program, serving as a digital workbook of resources and content for teacher-led instruction and intervention in addition to a student-led individualized instructional pathway.

One might expect Edmentum to take credit for all the success these students have experienced, but it is quite the opposite. You see, Exact Path is a tool to identify needs and automatically provide a personalized learning pathway for each student in math, reading, and language arts. But, it is through the thoughtful implementation driven by educators to monitor progress, analyze NWEA MAP results, auto-group students by skill strengths and weaknesses, create motivational challenges, and utilize the open-ended ability to search for any needed additional materials that the success of the program stems.

So, would you believe that the next question the principals had for the Chads was: What can we do next?

It’s true. Even with so much success, there is still much that they can do to continue to grow and raise the bar for their students. The ability to consult with both Elizabeth and Lisa has been truly rewarding, and it will be awesome to see them utilize best practices in digital learning to help support their teachers and students.

St. Angela Merici School is a perfect example of what a motivated and dedicated group of administrators and teachers can accomplish with the right set of tools and a thoughtful plan of attack. You too can enhance your student performance results by partnering with a dedicated team who is committed to providing proven resources to your school, which can expand your horizons both now and in the future.

Finally, we would like to offer a big thank you to all of our hard-working schools! We appreciate each and every one of you and look forward to helping you enhance your results too!