When Superintendent Luke Francois came to Mineral Point School District seven years ago, the district was in the “exceed expectations” category of state assessments. However, he believed that they could do even better. The district started laying the foundation to increase student achievement.
Mineral Point School District wanted to move from being just good to great by focusing on three areas:
- Implementing practices that would put the district on a trajectory of growth and higher levels of achievement
- Meeting the diverse learning needs of all students—whether they were struggling or accelerated—with a personalized learning experience
- Providing educators with the tools and training that enabled them to enhance their teaching and better address the needs of their students
The district took a multipronged approach that included a pilot with Apex Learning for eighth-grade remediation. They shifted to a blended learning environment allowing teachers to provide more 1:1 help when students need it, while at the same time giving students the opportunity to learn concepts at their own pace and in their own way.
Student achievement has increased significantly since implementing Apex Learning digital curriculum: 74.5% 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. As the district saw positive results, they expanded their implementation of Apex Learning to address a wide range of needs.
Laying the Foundation
Mineral Point School District first started using Apex Learning digital curriculum for their at-risk eighth-grade students. However, they immediately saw other areas where it would be beneficial to students. Recognizing that personalized learning plays an important role in successfully transitioning students to high school, Mineral Point turned to Apex Learning digital curriculum to enable students to take different paths for learning and get the support they need when they need it. Superintendent Francois notes that for each student that means “having continuous resources available wherever you are in your journey.”
Superintendent Francois and middle school math teacher Mike Chambers,who helped initiate the use of Apex Learning digital curriculum in the district, noticed that while sixth and seventh graders had math scores on the state assessment that ranged from mediocre to good, eighth graders had elevated math scores. They thought this spike might be an anomaly due to an unusually accelerated class, but a second year with similarly high results from eighth graders convinced them to extend use of Apex Learning digital curriculum to all seventh- and eighth-grade classes. With digital curriculum, students are exposed to higher-level application problems that require critical thinking. In addition, real-time reporting enables teachers to provide immediate feedback and intervention to keep students on track to grade-level content mastery. “Because of that higher-level thinking that they’ve been exposed to day in and day out, when they get to the state assessment they’ve come back and said, ‘That’s not nearly as bad as I thought it would be,’” says Chambers.
Getting Everyone on Board
Math teacher Mike Chambers emphasizes the importance of getting buy-in from teachers before implementing a digital curriculum solution. “You have to give your teachers the tools and the support to be able to improve. Good teachers will get good results. If you give them tools and supports, you’re going to get great results.”
As a result of the success of the initial eighth-grade implementation, Mineral Point has expanded Apex Learning digital curriculum to serve a wide range of needs that benefit both teachers and students:
- Expanded course offerings for students’ post-secondary aspirations and AP®
- Skill remediation and core classes at alternative high school
- Supplementary materials for special education students in math
- ACT® prep for high school math students
- Homework and formative assessments in high school science
- Relief of scheduling challenges through additional course offerings
- Reduced prep time to find resources that personalize learning