Central Elementary, Missouri

When a visionary school leader dramatically increases student access to technology and adds appropriate engaging content, the transition can produce transformational results in both student engagement and achievement.

That’s what happened at Central Elementary, a Title I school in Ferguson, Missouri. As she was adding iPad and Chromebook carts to supplement the computer lab, Principal Crystal Isom expanded a two-classroom myON pilot into a full-school implementation in January of 2014.

“Ms. Isom envisioned moving away from basal readers and providing guided reading for our 300 students,” said Patti Paton, the school’s veteran reading specialist of 20 years.

Reading Specialist Patti Paton, left, with Principal Crystal Isom “We also found that myON was a perfect match for our self- selected reading as it met our students where they were and moved them forward.”

 “myON is an absolutely wonderful resource that engages students,” Isom explained. “It enables students to read a variety of texts while helping them feel comfortable with manipulating computer tools. Students who use myON have a competitive advantage over students who do not have similar resources. State assessments all over the nation are changing the format of the test to a computer based assessment with a listening component as a feature of the state assessment. Central students approached the Missouri Assessment Program with confidence, because they had consistently used myON... myON rocks!” ​​

"Our teachers love the data, and they use it to stay on top of things. If the data shows that kids are sitting in one place and haven’t moved for a few weeks, we need to know why." 

Early results have been impressive since transitioning to the digital classroom. Isom shared that Central Elementary’s ELA scores on the Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) increased during the 2013-2014 and 2014-15 school years, and the school’s accreditation score went from 45.7% to 67.1%. Central was ranked #2 in the district for APR on student growth. She credits myON with helping her school achieve these milestones.

Several key strategies contribute to their success.

Their implementation kicked off with staff development, helping educators to integrate myON into regular classroom instruction and existing reading programs. “We have meshed Accelerated Reader, which we have used for 18 years, with myON,” Paton said. “The quiz questions on myON require higher-level thinking and give our students another way to demonstrate their comprehension.”

There is an expectation that students will read regularly, bolstered by a district-wide initiative that all students read at least 20 minutes a day and a school-based incentive program developed by Isom. Students can access myON outside of school year-round including at the local library, which also runs a summer reading program. Many families have purchased tablets so their children can read at home.

Data is used effectively by the Central Elementary team. “Our teachers love the data, and they use it to stay on top of things,” explained Paton, who pulls student reports three times per quarter for them. “If the data shows that kids are sitting in one place and haven’t moved for a few weeks, we need to know why.”