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An Interview with Jody Bentz, Principal of Snowflake Intermediate School, AZ Former Taylor Elementary Title 1 Reading Specialist

Michael Vergara Published: February 8, 2015
teacher with class

Taylor Profile: 293 students; Grades K-3; 42% Free/Reduced Lunch; 16% Hispanic Snowflake Profile: 342 students; Grades 4-6; 58% Free/Reduced lunch; 11% Hispanic

Taylor Elementary School: During the 2013-14 school year, we ran a pilot program using MindPlay Virtual Reading Coach (MVRC) for 30 of our third grade students who were enrolled in our Title 1 reading program. They were identified by running records, AIMS scores, Galileo testing results, and teacher recommendations. Students in the pilot were at least a year behind their peers in reading. They were on MVRC for 30 minutes of their scheduled 60 minutes of Title 1 Intervention time, Monday through Thursday. The other 30 minutes was spent on tiered intervention activities. Students were also encouraged to use the program at home after school hours to gain additional growth.

These students were welcome to use their recess time to work on MVRC, and our computers were full every day. Ten of the students who worked during recess were identified as the most at risk and were candidates to be on the “Falls Far Below” level on our AIMs standardized test as third graders. At the time, this was considered an automatic retention. We knew that MindPlay could help them because I was very impressed by the reports and diagnostics for each student. When our state testing was complete, I asked these ten high-risk students how they thought they did on the AIMs test. One girl said, “I think I did really good because I could hear that lady’s voice in my head when I was trying to answer some of the questions.” When we received our AIMS scores for these students, NOT one of them were in the “Falls Far Below” category. All of our third grade students went to fourth grade.

Upper elementary at-risk students
Snowflake Intermediate School: As the principal of Snowflake Intermediate, I wanted to put my at-risk reading students on MVRC. Based on last year’s AIMs scores, I found the ten most at-risk in each grade level and put them on the program. These fourth, fifth and sixth grade students began MVRC two weeks before Christmas, 2014, and have been on it one week in January, 2015. They initially worked on the program for 30 minutes, Monday through Thursday. Since school resumed in January, we have the students scheduled for 45 minutes each day, Monday through Thursday. When viewing the reports that I pull, I see improved phonics understanding, word building and comprehension. I have students that are showing growth in multiple areas ranging from phonics to fluency. One sixth grader went from 65 percent to almost 100 percent in one skill. Just this week she earned two certificates in reading level comprehension.

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