Case Study

Higher scores, more positive classroom experiences

  • School

    Dexter Community Schools

  • Grades

    5-8

Students who participated in two years of the program scored significantly higher, by

1.9 points

on the 7th and 8th grade NWEA reading test than students who never participated in the program.

Students who participated in two years of the program scored significantly higher,

by 2.4 points

on the 7th and 8th grade NWEA math test than students who never participated in the program or had only been in it one year.

The University of Michigan’s School of Education released an extensive evaluation report about the success at the Dexter Community Schools after they implemented Gradient Learning’s program. Students who used the program for two years at Dexter Community Schools earned significantly higher standardized test scores in reading and math when compared to students who weren’t in the program.

Dexter Community Schools students in the program reported higher persistence, self–management, and future aspirations than students who were not in the program. Students using the program also had more positive classroom experiences and felt more accepted at school.

The report found that the program helped students develop cognitive skills, including the ability to analyze and synthesize, solve problems, and effectively navigate information. The program also promoted development of non-cognitive skills, including independence, communication, collaboration, confidence, awareness of learning needs, and an ability to get help when needed.

Students who used the program reported higher persistence, self-management, and future aspirations than students who were not in the program. They also had more positive classroom experiences, felt content was more relevant to their lives, and felt more accepted at school.

Teachers reported positive experiences with the program. Participants described positive experiences related to the ability to individualize instruction, mentor meetings, and preparation for life after high school.

One student felt that their learning experience in the program would be applicable in their life outside the classroom.

“We can learn the basics and then we get to use those basics again,” the student said. “We get to learn it and then, to make sure we understand it, we get to use it in situations, like real life. Last year we did a project on making our own ski resort to make sure that we understood math.”

Teachers described improvements in students’ communication skills and emphasized how the program’s structure and curriculum uniquely supported the growth of students’ ability to articulate their thoughts and describe their learning goals.

“You can hear a kid who has been in (the program) for multiple years, because they talk to their peers differently,” the Dexter Community Schools teacher said. “They reciprocate differently in discussions.”

The evaluation utilized an integrated mixed methods case study design. Quantitative data included standardized test scores and student, teacher, and parent survey data. Qualitative data included interviews with students, teachers, and parents. 

Read the full report here.