U.S. Department of Education Race to the Top District (RTTT-D) Winner Enlarged City School District of Middletown Shows That Personalized Learning Works

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In first year of implementation, students see significant gains with students in blended learning reading classrooms on average exceeding their NWEA growth expectations by 50% (growing 1.5 years in a single year) and students in math blended classrooms on average exceeding the NWEA expected growth by 21% (growing 1.21 years in a single year). Students in blended classrooms also outperformed their peers in non-blended classrooms.

There was no way any of us were going to let this initiative fail. It was a year in which we all grew and succeeded.

The Enlarged City School District of Middletown is excited to announce that in its first year of implementing blended learning for students in grades K-5, students showed significant growth in both reading and math.

Students in blended learning classrooms performed better than both the expected NWEA growth as well as better than their peers. Students in blended reading classrooms on average exceeded their NWEA growth expectations by 50% (growing 1.5 years in a single year). Students in math blended classrooms on average exceeded the NWEA expected growth by 21% (growing 1.21 years in a single year.) Students in blended classrooms outperformed students in non-blended classrooms by 57% in reading and 26% in math.

“The numbers do not tell the whole story,” said Amy Creeden, Principal, Race to the Top District (RTTT-D) Grant. “What was equally amazing is the high level of commitment of the teachers and how diligently they worked to fundamentally change their instructional models.”

Led by Dr. Kenneth Eastwood, the Enlarged City School District of Middletown, which serves 7,200 students of which 74% are economically disadvantaged, won a RTTT-D grant to personalize learning in 2012 and implemented a blended learning program in K-5 classrooms starting in 2013, impacting 500 students. In its first year, 33 teachers opted in to the program, representing teachers with a wide variety of experience and tenure. The district plans to scale up their blended program grades K-8 over the next three years. In September, the District will have over 120 teachers, grades K-8, that are utilizing a blended learning approach.

The 33 teachers who opted in to blended learning collaborated with Amy Creeden and Education Elements, a nationally recognized personalized learning solution, to re-design the way they use time, space and data on a daily basis. With a basic “three station rotation model” as the foundation of their design, teachers and Ed Elements worked together to incorporate small group personalized instruction, student collaborative learning, and independent learning on adaptive digital content, including iReady, Dreambox, Lexia, Achieve3000 and MyOn. In September, the District will add TenMarks and iXL to their digital content library. Education Elements provided professional development to teachers and coaching to “Blended Learning Leads.”

In a survey of blended learning teachers, 100% of teachers agree or strongly agree that since starting blended learning, students are more engaged. 100% of teachers also agreed or strongly agreed that “teaching in a blended classroom helps me increase my effective instructional time”. As one teacher noted, “Blended learning has allowed me to give all my students what they need. This could be material that is below level or above. It also provides me with data that I can use to personalize instruction to meet individual student needs.” More than 75 teachers, inspired by the changes they see in their students, have opted to become blended teachers for this upcoming school year. In September, the program is expanding to include 6th through 8th grade ELA and mathematics teachers.    

“Collaborating with Education Elements throughout the design process, which included instructional design and content selection, gave teachers a voice throughout all of the stages of this grass-roots effort. Teacher collaboration was the game changer! There was no way any of us were going to let this initiative fail. It was a year in which we all grew and succeeded,” said Amy Creeden.

“Tinkering around the edges is not going to solve today and tomorrow's instructional problems. Instructional problems that primarily revolve around the widening of student ability levels in typical classrooms,” said Dr. Eastwood. “Solutions to that problem, along with assurances that all students will progress proficiently in core academic solutions, demand new instructional models to assure targeted and personalized learning for every child. Education Elements helped us design a blended learning model to do this, and helped us implement it with fidelity.”

“Dr. Eastwood’s vision for personalized learning for every child in his district and his approach to making that change in his district should be a model for other districts around the country” said Anthony Kim, founder and CEO of Education Elements. “We are privileged to be their partner in this change, as they roll out personalized learning to every classroom over the next three years.”

Middletown’s success has been getting local and national attention. Soon after the launch, Middletown received separate visits from Charles E. Schumer, United States Senator from New York, and State Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch. Witnessing the blended learning classrooms, Schumer said,, “Middletown School District is a shining example of a struggling school district being able to dramatically turn around its lowest achieving schools—which prompted me to support their bid for $20 million in federal Race to the Top Funds—by combining administrative innovation, teacher dedication and community involvement with state-of- the-art technology for student use.”

About Middletown:

The Enlarged City School District of Middletown is located in Orange County, New York, about 65 miles northwest of New York City. Middletown is part of the Hudson Valley region, near the Wallkill River, and the district covers all of the city of Middletown as well as portions of the towns of Wallkill, Wawayanda, and Goshen. The district’s long-standing mission, to prepare students for life, is being accomplished by providing students with educational opportunities that continuously support its diverse student population. Its talented staff of more than 1,000 administrators, teachers, and support staff members are working together to make sure all Middletown students achieve educational excellence. From its competitive academic programs and state-of-the-art facilities to its multitude of fine arts and athletic opportunities for students, Middletown continues to provide rich opportunities to prepare students to be successful in a global society.

About Education Elements:

Education Elements is a nationally recognized solutions company that helps districts develop and implement personalized learning strategies. Ed Elements' services help districts to create strategies, design instructional models and support teachers in integrating technology and instruction. Highlight, Education Elements' personalized learning platform, provides students, teachers, and administrators each with a single entry point to access digital content and the detailed performance data they need to guide instruction and learning. This innovative cloud service offers simple and accessible data visualizations with actionable insights for users of all types. Education Elements has worked with over 100 schools across 40+ districts in the US; more than any other company.


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