Indiana district improving literacy proficiency through a comprehensive digital platform

English learners in the South Bend Community School Corporation build language skills through myON literacy solution
By: | Issue: February, 2016 | Case Study
January 8, 2016

Nearly 10 percent of the 18,680 students in the South Bend Community School Corporation in north central Indiana are English language learners. With students of varying levels of proficiency spread across the district’s 33 schools, finding solutions to help students increase their skills, particularly in reading comprehension, proved difficult.

In spring 2014, leaders at the state’s Department of Education realized that Indiana’s high population of migrant students was not served as optimally as possible.

Through Title I, Part C funds, myONÑa literacy solution that provides anytime, anywhere access to more than 10,000 digital booksÑwas purchased for all Indiana migrant students for the Migrant Education Program.

“I was amazed at what myON offered these students,” says Julia Cordova-Gurule, director for the Migrant Education Program Region One Center, and Director of Bilingual Services for SBCSC. “I was amazed at the number of books and how myON helps students become better readers.”

With a vast library and assistive reading tools such as word lookup, highlighting and underlining, myON helps students improve their close reading skills. The recommendation engine provides a list of texts based on a student’s interests and abilities, available from their own personalized dashboardsÑwhich also includes their results from embedded assessments. Administrators have the ability to track students’ activity and growth in a real-time data platform.

Region One’s migrant students have increased their Lexile® levels an average of 134L since the launch of myON in April of 2014. With these strong gains in mind, Cordova-Gurule selected myON in fall 2014 for supplemental reading for all English learners in SBCSC.

“What myON did was enable us to reconfigure our population of ELL students that was spread across the district into four different virtual academies so they all could access the platform,” says Cordova-Gurule. “This is why myON works for us; it allows us to work outside the box.”

At SBCSC, students use myON for reading both in school and in after-school programs. Family literacy is also a priority for the district, and students can read myON texts with their parents at home. Educators can embed certain myON texts and book quizzes into any curriculum, and build book sets to cover a range of topics.

“We have bilingual staff in our computer labs for students to get one-on-one help after school,” says Cordova-Gurule.

Initially, Caroline Marandino, myON Project Manager, led SBCSC educators and after-school tutors in intensive professional development to get them comfortable with the program. However, she credits the ease of implementation with Cordova-Gurule’s dedication.

“Julia has a clear plan and vision for what she wants and how myON should be used,” says Marandino. “She holds staff accountable and has ongoing PD to provide them with support.”

Through myON’s easy-to-access and easy-to-understand reporting features, it is simple for SBCSC administrators to track how much ELL students have been engaging with the program. Since fall of 2014, students who have access to myON have read three times the number of books as their peers who do not.

“I see more engagement,” says Cordova-Gurule. “I see kids who are excited to read and love reading.”

And the more books a student reads, the higher their Lexile gain. Since beginning the program, first- and third-grade myON users each had at least a 40 point increase in their Lexile measurement. Third-grade students each read an average of 21 books beyond their regular classwork.

“I am looking forward to many more years of working with myON and collecting more data to support what we know is happening,” says Cordova-Gurule. “myON gets students using technology, and gets them reading.”

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