Pilot of CommonLit Leads to Student Growth
When the Alpine School District outside of Provo, Utah, began searching for a new English Language Arts curriculum, they opted for a methodical and data-driven approach to guide them. The district leaders were searching for a solution that would affect a large portion of their 86,000 students and nearly 300 ELA-related teachers, so they knew that they wanted to be able to see results of a curriculum prior to making the commitment to purchase it for the entire district. Since the district is so large, they decided to first buy the program for five schools and purchased CommonLit’s PRO Plus package to support the rollout of the CommonLit 360 curriculum. In these schools, they were looking to see:
- Clear student gains
- Improved instruction and less planning burden on teachers
- Strong support and professional development
In particular, there was a strong focus on student reading performance and the growth data for students using the CommonLit 360 curriculum. Across the board, their team saw evidence of student gains, improved teacher practice, and strong support.
CommonLit 360 Improves Classroom Morale and Gets Results
Alpine’s team was looking for student gains on reading assessments along with a clear improvement of classroom morale. Before using CommonLit 360, some students and teachers were feeling a lack of engagement. Denise Lund, Content Specialist in ELA for Alpine, says CommonLit positively affected teacher morale along with student performance. Lund notes, “Instruction has improved, morale has improved, and of our three junior highs in the pilot program, two of those showed the top growth in the district. The third, a Title I school with ELL students, went from dead last in the district to 9th place. They were thrilled.”
CommonLit Supports Teachers in Collaborating and Improving Instruction
Alpine is a district that promotes the use of Professional Learning Communities (PLC’s) which allow teachers to come together often to plan and implement instruction. Daniel Potter, another Content Specialist in ELA for the district, says it was evident early on which PLC teams were using CommonLit. He noted that those teams’ collaborative meetings were noticeably more effective than teams who weren’t using the 360 curriculum. Says Potter, “I can say within a year and a half that we've seen a huge shift that we never thought possible with ELA being able to collaborate on similar content and to be able to see the collective efficacy skyrocket because of it.”
The CommonLit 360 curriculum gives teachers the time to focus on best practices and moving the needle with students. Lund and Potter found that teachers in pilot schools were spending significantly less time searching for stories and creating lesson plans. Lund notes that the district has seen teachers being able to be more proactive with their instruction. She states that she’s noticed a marked change in teacher practice, “That shift of I know what I'm teaching tomorrow, so now I want to know how I'm teaching it. I want to know which instructional and proven strategies are going to make this unit and this lesson better and more accessible for our kids.” The cohesive and thorough design of the CommonLit 360 curriculum allows Alpine’s PLC’s to function more effectively.
CommonLit 360’s Scope & Sequence and supportive unit planning materials clearly tells teachers what they should be focusing on with their students. Taking the guesswork out of planning has allowed Alpine’s teachers to focus on data analysis and subsequent student support.
CommonLit 360 Empowers Teachers to Use Best Practices in their Classroom
An integral requirement of Alpine’s curriculum adoption process was finding a program that is research-based and rooted in best practices. Says Potter, “We've been trying to hone in on Tier 1 instruction and figure out how we can find those high-yielding, high effect-size and (John) Hattie-endorsed instructional techniques to be able to implement into classroom instruction.” CommonLit 360 provides opportunities for teachers to incorporate those strategies throughout daily lessons and entire units. Potter goes on, “It was such a vast difference between the CommonLit teams who instantly could say, ‘A jigsaw is actually going to work really well here.’ Whereas others were just kind of floundering and trying to figure out what they're doing in the next teaching term.” By providing sound and engaging unit plans for teachers to use with students, CommonLit gives teachers access to best practices in literacy instruction in an engaging and easy-to-use program.
In addition to providing effective instructional strategies for Tier 1 instruction, CommonLit 360 also provides excellent scaffolding to assist students who may need it. Says Potter, “I have personally seen and appreciated the richness of the scaffolding tools that CommonLit offers that has helped their curriculum to be very successful for all students.”
Along with being research based, CommonLit units are student-centered and engaging. Lund notes, “The 360 units with those Essential Questions are compelling for our kids. The topics are compelling with text at the right complexity and having the right amount of challenge.”
Support from CommonLit
With regard to the technical integration of CommonLit 360 with their district’s digital learning platform Canvas, Lund noted, “One of the things that's very appealing about CommonLit is their Canvas integration. CommonLit has been terrific to always connect us to the right people to fix any little glitches quickly and effectively. I feel very strongly supported.”
For more information on how your school or district can partner with CommonLit and experience student growth, click on the button below.