True intervention is about finding a way for students to catch up, keep up, or even get ahead, and it can take many forms. Here, Dr. Travis Woulfe, Executive Director of Improvement and Innovation, shares his success with Camp Journey, a voluntary summer school program for struggling middle school students in Rockford Public Schools in Illinois. This summer school program turned summer camp has seen great success with personalized intervention as they incorporate technology, the arts, and guest speakers to provide students with a rich learning experience, and eliminate the summer slump.
WLC: To start off, can you tell me a little bit about your role at Rockford?
Dr. Woulfe: This is my 16th year with Rockford Public Schools. I spent the first 5 as a principal, and this is my 11th in the central office. My current role is Executive Director of Improvement and Innovation which is a great title, and means a lot. My role includes procuring federal grants and entitlements, and implementing our summer program among other things. In the summer program, funded mostly by Title 1, we use Edgenuity® Hybridge® and MyPath®.
WLC: Great, can you tell me a little bit about your district? What kind of a student population do you serve?
Dr. Woulfe: Rockford is a large district just with just under 29,000 students across 46 schools. We have a very diverse population with roughly one-third black, one-third white, and one-third Hispanic students. Our students speak 47 different home languages, but poverty is a unifying factor as 82% of our students qualify for the national free and reduced lunch program. We have focused on keeping class loads at a reasonable level for our students and teachers, at the expense of some other things. So, our elementary schools average about 22 students per class, and secondary schools have about 26.
This way, students get more one-on-one time and personalized attention from teachers. If we want to personalize, [both] small class size and a digital resource are essential.
WLC: I understand you started with a pilot program of Hybridge at a few of your elementary schools, then expanded to use both Hybridge and MyPath at your summer school. Can you tell me some more about your summer program?
Dr. Woulfe: Our summer program, Camp Journey, is 4 weeks of half-day instruction serving 1,800 students from kindergarten to 7th grade. The program is optional, but we structure it as something kids want to attend, and that’s why we call it a camp. Students from this type of background don’t really get the opportunity to attend a summer camp, so they view it as a privilege to attend ours. In 6 years of doing this program, we have had a waitlist every year, so we are very strategic about how we offer our spots to students. First, we extend offers to students in the lowest quartile as measured by NWEA™ MAP® scores. Then we open it up to students at all of our Title 1 funded schools. The program is completely funded through grants so we offer it at no cost to families.
We design the program as something the students want to be at, while being highly mindful that it is instructional. We work with partners to design enrichment activities and provide background that children from poverty don’t usually receive. For example, we bring in representatives from the Smithsonian, local artists, and park district employees to present students with a variety of activities in conjunction with math, reading, and ELA.
“I would recommend Edgenuity to anyone trying to do both personalized learning and help students progress.”
For our learning solution we’ve used a couple of digital resources in the past, but we selected Hybridge and MyPath this year because of the integration with NWEA™ MAP®. This means that on day one, the students can access their individualized learning plans and start working. A classroom teacher and two program assistants work with groups of 20 students. This creates a wonderful blended learning opportunity because every student has a Chromebook and 3 adults to work with throughout the day. The students receive reading and math instruction every day and circulate to other activities afterward. Hybridge and MyPath help us provide reports to parents and allow teachers to monitor student progress and do small group or individual instruction as needed. At the end of the program, we do an exhibition of student learning, where parents come out to see their student(s) demonstrate learning in a way that they choose.
After our success this summer, we made Edgenuity available to all K–8 classrooms during the school year. The implementation is just starting, and due to a variety of factors, we’re letting schools decide how they want to use the product. When we look at usage reports, some schools have every student in the system and some have very few. The schools that are further along in their implementations usually have teachers who participated in the summer school program, so they have already been trained and are comfortable in the system. One of our biggest focuses is to provide training across the board to get educators using the system. Once educators are comfortable, we can focus on using Hybridge and MyPath as intervention solutions. To that end, we provided Edgenuity to students in our thirteen 21st-century after school programs, and we plan to provide a session for external partners like the YMCA so students can work on Edgenuity during their after school programs, too. We know that using the tools for intervention alone isn’t sufficient, but every time we can get students working on their individualized learning path[s], we want to do it.
WLC: What has been the impact of your intervention program?
Dr. Woulfe: Over the past 6 years, we have seen that our summer camp eliminates the summer slide for participating students as proven on standardized tests. The learning paths in Edgenuity are the most personalized based on NWEA™ results, which appealed to our curriculum department. Our students can hit the ground running and teachers appreciate the tight integration for students without additional work for the teachers.
Our program has also demonstrated that all students can learn together. When we say all, we mean all, and we invite English language learners and special education students to fully participate in camp. We’ve learned that all students can learn and prosper together. A platform like Edgenuity is ideal because it meets the students where they’re at, and we, as educators, can add in the social and emotional learning in other activities.
WLC: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Dr. Woulfe: I would recommend Edgenuity to anyone trying to do both personalized learning and help students progress. Our achievement levels are below state averages, so we were looking for a universal product that serves a wide variety of students and is easy to use. In addition to a good product, we’re thankful for the service, which helped us ramp up on a very tight timetable.
If you’re interested in learning more about how you can use online intervention tools to prevent learning loss, check out Edgenuity.com.