A school makes the grade, one student at a time
Educators at Sweetwater High School in National City, Calif., found themselves in a bind a few years ago. The school had been designated a "Program Improvement" institution under the No Child Left Behind Act, so changes had to be made.
Sweetwater had set up special prep classes for the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE), but there was a problem. The courses weren't flexible enough to permit instruction tailored to students' individual needs, so results on the critical state assessment were spotty. Frustrated, high school officials turned to the print and electronic series Measuring Up? and Measuring Up ePath? from Peoples Education?, a firm in Saddle Brook, N.J., that markets the ePath Knowledge? suite to reinforce learning skills and testing prowess.
"We hoped the ePath assessment results would help us figure out specific deficiencies and proficiencies of each student," said Art Lopez, the school's CAHSEE Intervention and Technology teacher.
As part of the Measuring Up?and ePath programs, the school initiated CAHSEE intervention classes in English language arts and math for juniors and seniors who had failed the exam. At the beginning of the program, students took a practice test that mimicked the CAHSEE to a 'T'—right down to the exam's look, format and length. Those results identified student weaknesses and allowed instructors to select individualized Measuring Up? print lessons to shore up knowledge and proficiency.
"The practice test results gave instructors focal points of what to attack for intervention," Lopez said. "Giving struggling students the information about what they do and don't know helps them feel motivated, less overwhelmed and excited to learn."
With ePath, tests can be designed and taken on any computer. Teachers can create their own QuickTests that hone in on areas that students find difficult, or they can choose from a database that includes thousands of questions tied to state standards. The program generates Personal Prescriptive Path Reports for each student that identifies specific "worktext" lessons. Those instructional building blocks help guide a student from basic comprehension to higher-order problem-solving skills.
This fall, Peoples Education? will debut worktexts in English language arts and math that embrace Common Core State Standards, a set of shared goals and expectations for student mastery of educational materials and concepts in grades K-12.
At Sweetwater, students showed rapid improvement in test scores once they adopted the tailored approach of Measuring Up? and ePath Knowledge?. Teachers were able to track progress through targeted spot tests, which allowed quick feedback and remedial instruction. At the end of the intervention program, another practice test was administered that allowed instructors to conduct some last-minute tune-ups for struggling students. It also demonstrated how well others had absorbed lessons.
"Students have said that the program, the practice tests and the worktexts gave them the confidence to pass the CAHSEE," said Ricardo del Rio, Sweetwater's alternative education program manager.
Measuring Up? and ePath helped Sweetwater pass a critical test, too. After two years of using the program, the school was able to shed the Program Improvement label.
"Measuring Up? and ePath Knowledge?, in the hands of our wonderful teachers, have contributed to our success," said Sweetwater Principal Wesley Braddock.
For more information about Peoples Education's products, visit www.epathknowledge.com.