Arrow Academy Maps Out Plan to Deliver Comprehensive Improvement in Student Writing through Individualized Learning

April 5, 2013

Faced with academic challenges and poverty, Dr. Jim Christensen of Arrow Academy shows how to move forward by providing students with the individualized tools needed for successful writing.

Yardley, PA

In the spaghetti Westerns of old, you always knew who the hero was: a gutsy, tough as nails warrior with a heart of gold. He’d gallop in on his super-sized horse to save the day, fighting off foes and villains name of honor and decency. These days, Texas has a modern day hero and the villain is illiteracy.

Dr. Jim Christensen is a visionary educator who, during his 27 years in education, has been able to turn underperforming school districts into high achievers. During his tenure in Sheridan, Wyoming, he improved student performance from middle rankings within the State to the second highest performing district in the state. In the Adams 12 School District located in the Denver metropolitan area, he guided the system to the greatest improvement gains in the metro area. During his six years in Douglas County, a southern suburb of Denver, Christensen established one of the highest performing districts in the State with 94% of the 71 schools reaching high or excellent status under Colorado’s accreditation report — in addition to reducing the dropout rate to less than 1%.

Now Dr. Christensen takes on his toughest challenge: superintendent of Arrow Academy. Located in the Houston, Texas area, the 900-child, k-8 system is located in a poverty zone with many children two, three or even four grade levels behind. “We can’t teach a regular delivery model and expect kids to be motivated,” says Christensen, who struggles with the varying levels of student development within grade levels. While some students may achieve required overall competency levels, student performance is uneven.

Christensen is going to get to the heart of the matter with a teaching tool that will help both his students and even his teachers become better writers. Utilizing My Access!®, students will be able to prepare and submit essays and receive immediate feedback. In turn, they will be able to receive remediation through the tool in order to revise and re-submit. Through My Access!, students have seen a 17% level of improvement in student writing with just three uses. In addition, the multi-lingual support the tool offers gives ELL and ESL students the opportunity to improve their English writing proficiency by receiving feedback in their native languages.

Teachers become more effective too. Rather than spending excessive time grading papers, they’re able to focus on teaching specific techniques in areas that need improvement, provide one-on-one assistance during the writing process, and help students polish their skills in areas where they are already doing well. Extensive reporting options offer teachers and administrators a complete picture of student development and teacher effectiveness.

“We’re doing a blended model of 30% tech and 70% teaching in order to be able to focus on individual student needs,” says Christensen, “We’re committed to each and every student at Arrow. My Access! is helping us to ensure their success here.”

Texas has another hero, no horse needed!

About Vantage Learning
A recognized leader in online assessment and instruction, Vantage Learning creates Adaptive Learning Environments® to support student achievement and school improvement. Formed to meet the needs of the ever-evolving education industry, Vantage provides educators with sophisticated knowledge and immediate feedback solutions to enhance and support a continuous learning process. Its exceptional technology, including artificial intelligence, natural language understanding and web-based learning objects, provides adaptive resources for individualized instruction and professional development.

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