High Expectations equate to high success
for marion county schools

“We’ve just looked at the Scantron assessment data for two of our schools, and they show great gains from fall to winter! They also show high usage and proficiency in Classworks. We’re looking at the other schools to see if this is a trend,” wrote Tracy Burt, Marion County’s School Improvement Specialist.

It is a trend! 

In every strand, for both mathematics and language arts, students working in Classworks experienced marked growth compared to those who didn’t. And, for students using Classworks for more than five hours with greater than 70% average mastery, the growth was tremendous! 

Marion County Schools is an eleven-school district in Hamilton, Alabama. Alabama has adopted Scantron Performance Series (formerly Global Scholar) as its interim and summative state assessment for grades 3-8. Marion County uses Classworks to individualize learning for every student using their Performance Series assessment data. 

The resulting growth tells the story of how Classworks, in conjunction with dedicated educators and students, can impact student success! 

“We are a districtwide family all working on this together! It is exciting to see the growth as a result of the hard work of our educators and students. There are clear parallels with the time our students spend in Classworks and their gains,” says Burt. 

The objective: test less, individualize more.

For the 2017-2018 school year, Marion County decided to implement Classworks districtwide for two essential reasons. 

1. To put the test data they already have to work for every student.

You’ve got interim, formative, summative assessments, and the list can go on. Although testing can be a valuable way to determine growth and increase performance, it also takes up valuable instructional time and classroom resources. 

“I was so excited to discover that we could use Classworks to automatically individualize lessons for each of our students based on their Scantron results,” says Burt. “Some programs require that you use their assessment to prescribe needed instruction. With Classworks, we can use the assessment data we already have to provide customized lessons based on what each student is ready to learn!”

2. To give teachers back their class time.

In today’s classrooms, teachers may have 20 - 30 students in a class. A high percentage of those students may be one or two grade levels below or above. Burt explains, “They are still expected to teach grade-level standards while meeting learning needs that may be all over the map. We use Classworks to help teachers provide that individualization automatically, giving them back valuable class time.”

The district set the goal for all students that have learning gaps identified by their Scantron assessment to receive an Individualized Learning Path in Classworks. Principals have implemented schoolwide scheduling with the goal of each student having a minimum of one hour per week per subject in Classworks. Most Elementary schools are having students work in Classworks daily, with other schools now following that lead after seeing the growth experienced by the elementary school students.

The data tells the story of success. 

Chelsea Johnson, a third-grade teacher in the district, is thrilled with the gains she saw for her students.  “I love the fact that Classworks takes their information from Scantron and gives them activities that fit their particular needs.” Johnson appreciates that Classworks is helping her strugglers and her gifted students.  “Some of my students are extremely smart, and I love that they’re not left out which can happen because we focus a lot on our below grade level students. I have third-grade students working on ninth-grade assignments, and they are learning so much. Because they have their own learning paths in Classworks they are able to grow, too. Plus, my strugglers are being taken care of and getting the extra help they need to grow!”

Chelsea Johnson is not the only teacher that has the opportunity to celebrate tremendous growth. In each school where students are working on Classworks, those students’ Scantron assessment scores improved from fall to winter.

A shining star in the district. 

Phillips High School (74% free/reduced lunch) had the greatest gains with a combined average growth in math and language arts of 360 points! “I had a chance to visit Phillips recently. They are so excited to celebrate their success,” says Burt. Phillips has a higher percentage of free and reduced lunch than other schools in the district. 

“The challenges the students face have not prevented them from seeing success. That is so important. It raises their confidence and motivates them to continue on this trajectory of growth.”  

Raising the expectation raised the achievement. 

Marion attributes the growth their students are experiencing both to the perfect individualization Classworks creates and to raising the expectation to a higher level of proficiency combined with consistent monitoring and feedback.  

“Our first year using Classworks the average mastery was 60%. We knew that our students could do better, but we had to hold them accountable. In 2017, we raised the expectation for mastery to 90%. We tracked their performance on the instruction, conferenced with students who were struggling, and re-assigned lessons when needed. The students not only rose to the expectations but exceeded them!” 

Looking ahead. 

Marion County teachers are confident that the growth they are seeing will translate to success on their end of year assessment. But, they aren’t resting on their laurels. The district is looking to implement consistent blocks of time at every school for students to work on their Individualized Learning Paths in Classworks each week. 

Students are encouraged to work on their individualized lesson at home. “Parents want to know how they help their kids at home,” explains Burt. “ We sent home a letter with each student’s Scantron assessment score and explained what Classworks is and how to access it from home. Parents are happy that they can see what their kids need to work on and support them.”  

“I am proud of the work we’ve done as a district," says Marion County School Superintendent Ryan Hollingsworth. "We wanted to empower our teachers with the tools to deliver targeted instruction to meet individual needs. Every student should have the opportunity to experience growth and success. The combination of dedicated teachers, motivated students, and the right instruction at the right time with Classworks has resulted in exactly what we hoped for–increased achievement!”