A Winning Combination! Cayce Elementary + Edmentum Exact Path
A Winning Combination! Cayce Elementary + Edmentum Exact Path
This spring, Edmentum organized an Exact Path Skills Challenge Contest for our South Carolina educators, and following month one, we’re excited to announce our champion school and share best practices from their stellar implementation! Cayce Elementary School, located outside of Columbia, South Carolina, may be putting the finishing touches on its first year as an Edmentum partner and Exact Path program user, but don’t be fooled—the school’s implementation took off with a bang and keeps going strong through the end of the 2018–19 school year! As our official April Challenge winner, 922 participating students mastered 3,772 Exact Path skills in just 30 days. Recently, I had the chance to speak with Assistant Principal Allyson Stoy Long to learn more about how students and educators are using the program to personalize learning and support academic growth.
Months before Edmentum began the Exact Path Skills Challenge, Cayce Elementary was just beginning its Exact Path implementation. What goals were you trying to meet when you entered into a partnership with Edmentum?
Ms. Stoy Long: We definitely needed some type of digital platform that was individualized and personalized for our students, just from the standpoint of there's such a wide range [of student abilities] within each class. For example, I have a 3rd grade class that had a student who couldn't recognize all 26 letters and then students in that same class reading on a 7th grade reading level.
For the teacher to meet that wide range of needs, we desperately needed something that was going to meet each student where they were and then allow our teachers to pull purposeful small groups. What we were observing when we first started in August, before we really implemented Edmentum, was that we were doing small-group instruction, but every small group was getting the same instruction.
Edmentum has allowed us to give them that digital piece where the teacher can pull out: “These are three [students] who needed help with two-column addition, and these are my three [students] who were still on single-column edition. These are my three who've got it, so I'm just going to give them extra time to extend their learning.”
Where did you begin your implementation? How have you seen that grow and develop thus far?
Ms. Stoy Long: Well, the first thing was having Eddie Crosby come in and do the training, and he did a wonderful job, and our teachers bought right into it. As soon as he started explaining how to use it, that was a game-changer. I'm telling you that the day he came, if people came to him for planning at like 9:30 AM by 2:00 PM, their kids were already logging minutes, and so they were all sold on it. We set the expectation that there was going to be 30 minutes a week of intentional time on Exact Path, and so my instructional facilitators pull me a report, and then we just followed steps of accountability.
Rather than leveraging the adaptive diagnostic assessment that Exact Path offers, you’ve elected to use your existing Renaissance® Star® assessment data to auto-create learning paths for students. Why was it important that Exact Path offered other assessment integrations?
Ms. Stoy Long: The whole district [uses Star assessments] three times a year. It's also a big driving piece as far as our RTI and intervention planning goes. But, the thing we have seen—is it's very closely aligned to the SC Ready scores, so when our students who are testing take [Star] at the beginning of April, we're able to predict where we think they're going to score on SC Ready and use it for last-minute intervention.
We purchased the licenses for kindergarten through 5th [grade]. This year, we've really focused on 1st through 5th in the implementation process, mainly because our kindergartners don't take [Renaissance] Star [assessments] until the winter. But, because we've experienced such success with Exact Path, next year, we're going to start our kindergarteners where they go ahead and take it from the get-go so that they can do Exact Path the whole year.
Before, during, and after the Edmentum Exact Path Skills Challenge contest, how do you keep your students engaged in the program?
Ms. Stoy Long: We did a huge thing in February and March where each student had an individual goal, a class goal, a grade-level goal, and a school-level goal. If we met the school-level goal, we had a dance party in the hallway. If we met the grade-level goal, it was a movie. Then, students who met individual goals, got to throw at the dunk tank, and I was in the dunk tank one day. If their class met their goal, they got time on a bounce house. We had goal-tracking sheets and graphs all throughout the building. Setting some of those [incentives] really helped motivate our students. It is seeing the data, the students understanding the data, and knowing what they're working towards.
What success have you experienced thus far by using Exact Path?
Ms. Stoy Long: I think we are definitely seeing achievement growth in the fact that it is really difficult when you are teaching students in a classroom on a variety of levels, where you're giving them exactly what they need by logging the minutes in Edmentum. But, more than that, it's giving our teachers a platform for differentiated instruction. If you look at [John] Hattie’s research, effective differentiated instruction is one of your higher items on that zone of impact, and so we are giving teachers a roadmap for how to meet each group of students where they need to be.
As our big April winner, how will you be celebrating?
Ms. Stoy Long: Well, we went back and forth on how we were going to spend our pizza money [from Edmentum], but our plan is we are going to have a pizza party for our top trophy winners throughout the building with our principal. They'll get to eat pizza outside and play on the playground, shoot basketball, etc. That will be for our top trophy winners, and our teacher whose students earned the most trophies will also be receiving a small gift card. Because, while it's certainly the success of the student, it's the teacher's management and encouragement that was guiding that success.
As for what’s next for Cayce Elementary, the school has already set a goal to become Edmentum’s May Exact Path Skills Challenge winner too! We can’t wait to watch and see if that happens. If you’re interested in learning more about creating engaging learning environments for your students using Exact Path, check out our blog post: Trophies, Challenges, and Trackers, Oh My: Engaging Students in Exact Path.