Alabama's Hoover City Schools began working with Istation specifically for students in grades 1 to 5 in Title I schools. According to Debra Walker Smith, the district's director of federal programs, the use of the program was so successful, the school system was able to remold its intervention practices of "monitoring students out" — pulling them out of class for targeted interventions.
"Students were going back into the general education classroom and were being successful, so we were able to serve additional students — more than we ever had in the past," she said.
What Walker Smith especially appreciates about the use of Istation is how the program enables teachers "to diagnose exactly what a student needs in instruction and provide that for them." ISIP measures the growth, and teachers use that information to select the lessons for small group instruction. "And it helps make those small groups even smaller," she adds. "If we have two students who are similar in their misunderstanding, we can group them together and work deeper with the lessons and strategies."
The numbers offer evidence of the impact. In one school year, the district’s Lexile® reading scores for first graders in those Title I schools gained 370 points; for second grade, the boost was 280 points; it was 155 points for third grade; 165 points for fourth grade; and 132 points for fifth grade.
"I believe that this program is one of the best investments we have made using our federal funds," said Walker Smith. "I like the ease of implementation, but more importantly, I like that students feel successful using it."
Teachers have to keep up with so much during the day, any instructional process that can't automate assessment and monitoring is time consuming for teachers, observes Smith. That makes the possibility of differentiating instruction for all students "the million-dollar question." A program like Istation provides the educational technology and tools that schools and teachers need to deliver the powerful blended learning that will help their students succeed.
Technology can help bridge that gap, including assessments and other indicators of progress along the way. Reports and analysis of how students are performing should also come into play with a robust platform so educators are always informed and able to engage students where they are.
Download a guide on differentiated instruction and technology’s role in its success.