SPS pilots highly-personalized learning program
Friday, March 3, 2017
Springfield Public Schools in conjunction with the Springfield Empowerment Zone Partnership (SEZP) has partnered with New Classrooms, a national non-profit on a mission to personalize education by redesigning how a classroom works, to bring its first school-based learning model, Teach to One: Math (TTO) to Chestnut Accelerated Middle School: Talented & Gifted (TAG). This year, TAG’s 226 middle school students are receiving customized daily schedules, curriculum and learning experiences to meet their individual math needs through the learning model.
The adoption of TTO is part of an effort to personalize learning after teachers noticed students were entering middle school with different foundational math skills. Teachers faced the challenge of providing students with varying lessons, learning approaches and timelines so they could learn additional skills while also moving forward through the curriculum.
“Students need a strong foundation in math to be ready for high school and college. By working with New Classrooms, we’re providing students with that foundation by giving our teachers the tools to make personalizing math a reality,” said Springfield Public Schools Superintendent and SEZP Board Member Daniel Warwick. “When they use Teach to One: Math, teachers can spend more time working together and collaborating. Meanwhile, students can engage in challenging lessons created to address their specific needs.”
TTO provides teachers with a curated bank of high-quality learning resources that match students’ skill levels and address knowledge gaps. It assigns each student to one of nine instructional approaches, called modalities, daily based on the previous day’s assessment. The model was found to deliver 1.5 years of learning in a school year.
“Springfield Public Schools is joining the many districts around the country leveraging personalized learning to make math engaging and relevant to every student, every day,” said New Classrooms CEO Joel Rose. “We’re excited to be working with and learning alongside the students, teachers and staff at Springfield Public Schools and Chestnut Accelerated Middle School Talented and Gifted.”
This new model of personalization helps solve an important problem: almost two-thirds of U.S. eighth graders are off track in math when they enter high school. These students have a less than 20 percent chance of graduating high school ready for college, according to ACT Research Report Series. In the 2015-16 school year, 24 out of the 25 schools using TTO saw academic gains above the national average. In Springfield, TTO’s implementation is being funded by Springfield Public Schools with support from the Barr Foundation, MassMutual and Strategic Grant Partners.
“This creative initiative gives students the opportunity to excel and shares our goal of providing a high-quality education to our children,” said Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno. “We are honored to welcome Teach to One: Math to our city and look forward to seeing its positive impact on our children, teachers and schools.”