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In Marlboro Township Public Schools, Student Success is Driven by the District’s Focus on Instructional Data
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Marlboro Township Public Schools (MTPS) had to select online learning programs that would make its hardware investment worthwhile. MTPS teachers were looking for technology tools that supported legitimate models for independent work, blended learning, and targeted instruction. Finally, MTPS administrators needed to access usage and performance data to help schools maximize gains and to demonstrate how programs were being used and what the effects were—the board of education and families would be scrutinizing outcomes.
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Case of Achievement: In Marlboro Township Public Schools, Student Success is Driven by the District’s Focus on Instructional Data

IMPLEMENTATION CONTEXT

Prioritizing Personalization for Instruction
Marlboro Township Public Schools (MTPS) is a suburban community school district in Monmouth County, New Jersey, comprising eight schools that serve grades PreK-8, with a large percentage of high-achieving students, deeply involved families, and an attentive and analytical Board of Education. From a pedagogical standpoint, the district strongly embraces the concept of personalized learning and believes that personalized learning makes it possible to address the diverse needs of all students.

Implementation of Achieve3000
NUMBER OF SCHOOLS: 7
GRADES: 3-8
ACTIVE USERS: 3,715
PARTICIPATING TEACHERS: 230
AVERAGE LEXILE READING
SCORE GAIN: 163(L)
MTPS had to select online learning programs that would make its hardware investment worthwhile. The best-fitting software would address New Jersey grade-level content standards in multiple subject areas, differentiate instruction to meet individual students’ needs, help students get ready for PARCC testing, offer anytime, anywhere learning access, and tie into established placement criteria for students in grades 3-8. MTPS teachers were looking for technology tools that supported legitimate models for independent work, blended learning, and targeted instruction. Finally, MTPS administrators needed to access usage and performance data to help schools maximize gains, and to demonstrate how programs were being used, and what the effects were—the Board of Education and families would be scrutinizing outcomes.

Making Sense of Data
To track progress toward improved outcomes and as part of a long-standing commitment to ensuring that processes were in place to leverage instructional data, MTPS created a digital dashboard that would help curriculum administrators monitor usage of the district’s digital tools.

desk illustration of a computer, hands, and books
In discussing their work with data at MTPS, Michael Ballone, director of curriculum and instruction, made an essential point: “Any online program gives you data. Generating data is not enough; we have to make sure that we have processes in place to do something with that data, making sure our data is used, and used well.”

Not every online program the district reviewed could support this level of commitment to data-driven and personalized instruction. Luckily, MTPS found one suitable solution in the Achieve3000 platform, which also fit closely with the district’s priorities and approach regarding literacy across the curriculum, and the new CCSS/PARCC landscape. Equally significant was students’ potential use of the platform for anytime, anywhere learning on their tablets or laptops, even for offline learning when an internet connection was unavailable.

With the Achieve3000 platform, data-driven, differentiated instruction is paramount. Each student’s unique traits, usage, and performance overlap to create a personalized learning and curriculum framework.

In reporting for MTPS administrators and teachers, the Achieve3000 platform’s validated forecasting tool utilized data from LevelSet online assessment® to predict how individual MTPS students might perform on the PARCC assessment in the spring. Classroom teachers and instructional leaders could search, organize, and assign topics based on instructional priorities, with the platform automating lesson suggestions based on specific student strengths and needs, and whether lessons have already been assigned by another teacher. The platform offered additional usage and performance reports to classroom teachers, as well as school and district administrators, at the student, class, school, and district level. “Making sense of data” occurred directly within the Achieve3000 platform, where data was linked directly to action, with clear, research-based goals for fidelity of usage and performance.

The district’s efforts were supported by an array of services provided by Achieve3000.
Achieve3000’s 5-Step Literacy Routine provided a flexible method that MTPS teachers could implement with independent work, direct instruction, blended learning, and flipped-classroom instructional models. Curriculum administrators were able to use the platform to help English language arts, social studies, and science teachers work cooperatively by parsing out topics to avoid instructional overlaps across subject areas, coordinating curricular pacing, and identifying gaps and opportunities.

A Lexile and Achievement Culture
Another factor that drove success with the MTPS implementation of Achieve3000 was the district and community’s embrace of the Lexile® reading level score as a highly meaningful measure. The district worked to embed a “Lexile culture” into the wider community, educating parents on the measure, and incorporating Lexile reading level grade bands from the CCSS into the placement criteria for social studies and ELA classes for grades 3-8.

Throughout the multiyear Achieve3000 implementation and the evaluation period, parents became progressively more engaged in student reading efforts. When given information about Lexile levels required for specific careers, both parents and students embraced the “real-world” impact of the Achieve3000 Literacy platform and recognized the direct value of their Achieve3000 efforts. This home-school connection was a key factor powering the impressive percentage of students who worked on Achieve3000 outside the classroom.

91 percent working outside their classrooms
In fact, the percentages and results are impressive across the board from the 2016-2017 evaluation of MTPS’s implementation of Achieve3000’s cloud-based literacy platform in seven district schools. According to usage data from the evaluation period, MTPS students completed 266,276 New Jersey-customized lessons during the 2016-2017 school year. Afterschool, weekend, holiday, and vacation logins to the platform totaled 72,339, with 91 percent of students working on Achieve3000 outside their classrooms.

In terms of performance, students completing two Achieve3000 activities per week, showed an average Lexile reading score gain of 191(L) during the evaluation period, and 91 percent of students exceeded their expected growth in reading. Superintendent Hibbs wrote recently, “We honestly could not be happier with the results our students demonstrate. …We currently utilize Achieve3000 in grades 3-8; it has become a part of our educational fabric. This fabric allows our teachers to differentiate and reach all levels of learners, improving reading instruction and results.”

Throughout the multiyear, Achieve3000 Literacy implementation and the evaluation period, parents became progressively more engaged in student reading efforts.
This fabric was woven and strengthened by many educators at MTPS. Recognizing that regular student usage was necessary for achieving significant results, MTPS curriculum administrators leveraged their digital tools dashboard to monitor how often each student used Achieve3000, as well as areas where teachers spent the most time.

The district’s efforts were supported by an array of services provided by Achieve3000. In partnership with the district and based on schools’ identified goals and priorities, Achieve3000 created a comprehensive implementation plan that would help MTPS’s struggling, on-level and above-level students, obtain strong literacy growth. Achieve3000’s experts in literacy, differentiation, and instructional technology designed and delivered customized professional learning sessions for teachers and administrators. Modules for principals focused on literacy leadership, while classroom teachers worked on best practices for blended learning with a focus on immediate, actionable results, and addressing teachers’ diverse needs based on real-time data.

Key Takeaways
As evidenced by MTPS LevelSet data, and as a direct result of the district’s implementation and use of the Achieve3000 platform during the 2016-2017 school year, MTPS students significantly exceeded their expected Lexile growth, and almost 800 more students were on track for college and career readiness. This success demonstrates that:

  • Giving teachers and administrators access to forecasting analyses and proven fidelity of implementation benchmarks, empowers them to be more precise in prioritizing vital aspects of instruction, which, in turn, leads to enhanced student achievement and a more defined path to college and career readiness for all students.
  • Appropriately embedding a single measure like the Lexile reading score into district and community culture, and providing an effective tool for increasing that score, leads to broad acceptance and a more successful implementation.