Julie Evans, the CEO of Project Tomorrow and creator of the Speak Up Research Project, which annually reports on the views of 400,000 K-12 students, just published an article in The 74 Million where she shared the latest results from the Speak Up Research Project for Digital Learning.
In the latest data, she found that middle school teachers are exceedingly open to innovation in their classrooms and are placing an increasing importance on the effective use of technology to help students develop the skills they need for college and career. The survey also found that middle school administrators are seeking out new teachers who bring a depth of knowledge and experience in using technology to their classrooms.
However, according to recent data, only 34 percent of eighth-graders performed at or above the proficient level in math on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), and only 36 percent scored at or above proficient in reading. This is clearly a major hurdle facing middle school teachers to keep students on track, master grade-level content and prepare them for high school, which is why many middle school educators are turning to digital curriculum to help students fill in learning gaps.
Partnering with an Effective Digital Curriculum Provider
In the article, Evans’ warns that seeking a partner in digital curriculum goes beyond implementing flashy technology. As Mike Schmoker, an education author, states in a recent op ed in Education Week, “I'm against our inordinate obsession with what's new at the expense of what works—with exceedingly superior evidence-based practices.” At the end of the day it’s about results. If students are not demonstrating learning and a district isn’t achieving the outcomes they expect, it’s not worthwhile. When evaluating a digital curriculum provider, consider whether or not students will be able to master instructional content using curriculum that offers evidence-based research and practices to ensure every student learns.
Middle Schools Making an Impact
In the article, Evans shares three case studies on middle schools that are using Apex Learning digital curriculum in the classroom to expand learning opportunities for their students:
Seven years ago, Mineral Point School District, a small rural district in Wisconsin, was exceeding expectations on state assessments, but school leaders thought the district could do even better. They implemented the Apex Learning digital curriculum for eighth-grade remediation and shifted their middle school to a blended learning environment, allowing teachers to provide more one-on-one help when students need it. This strategy paid off, as student achievement has increased significantly since the implementation of digital curriculum, and 75 percent of Mineral Point Middle School students scored proficient or advanced in math on Wisconsin state assessments, an increase of 32.6 percentage points over the past five years.
Dorchester School District Two in South Carolina takes a comprehensive approach to preparing middle schoolers for the academic rigor of high school. The district wanted to provide an option to keep students on track for grade-level success while filling in foundational skill or concept gaps. They determined that using Apex Learning digital curriculum would enable teachers to personalize learning for students within the classroom while tracking their progress and determining exactly where they might be struggling. Following the implementation, teachers reported benchmark score improvements and increased student engagement. With digital curriculum, teachers believe students are more prepared for the next grade level, fostering independent learning and helping students develop higher-order thinking skills necessary for success in high school.
Dixon Public Schools, a small, rural district in Illinois, has a strict policy for students advancing from middle to high school: They must pass all subjects before moving on to ninth grade. Reagan Middle School educators sought to improve support for at-risk students, implementing Apex Learning remediation and credit recovery with the goal of filling in knowledge gaps and getting students back on track. As a result, more students who were at risk have now advanced and are prepared for ninth-grade coursework. According to the district, students are more engaged and more motivated to complete course requirements.
To learn more about how we can help your district meet the needs of middle school students and prepare them for success in high school, visit: https://www.apexlearning.com/middle-school.