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Re-thinking Instructional Models Can Lead to a Strong Increase in Student Achievement

Middletown, NY has worked with Education Elements to change its approach to instruction to be more student-centered and has seen significant increases on NWEA MAP scores

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students reaching their NWEA MAP growth targets in reading after four years of PL,
up from 44%

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more students reaching their NWEA MAP growth targets in math after four years of PL, up from 44%

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graduation rate, up from 54%

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students taking a college course in high school, up from 9%

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of elementary school teachers in the Enlarged City School District of Middletown (NY) say they target instruction to address specific student needs and learning goals

Enlarged City School District of Middletown, NY


The Enlarged City School District of Middletown is located in the Hudson Valley approximately 60 miles outside of New York City. The district serves 7,300 students across seven schools. Over three quarters of the student population receives free or reduced lunch, and over 80 percent are minority.

The Challenge


Middletown was challenged to support its high needs students. Although Middletown is a small city school district, the majority of students come from poverty. Middletown wanted to close the achievement gap between white and minority students, as well as lower their dropout rate. 

Middletown leadership knew that their approach had to be systematic, so they stopped social promotion and began implementing two-year kindergarten. They also invested in their facilities in order to erase the look and feel of poverty. Then, they started to look at their instructional models and knew they needed to break the pattern of teaching to the middle.

How We Helped


In 2013, Education Elements and Middletown partnered to begin training elementary school teachers to blend instruction as a way to personalize learning for students. Middletown chose an opt-in model in which teachers would choose when over a period of four years they wanted to shift to blended learning.

Education Elements worked with Middletown to design personalized learning instructional models and provided training to all waves of teachers over the course of four years. By the end of 2015, Middletown elementary and middle schools were fully blended.

Additionally, in 2015, Education Elements began working with Middletown High School classrooms to transition to a flipped/personalized instructional model and the two middle schools in 2016.

The Results


After four years of personalized learning, Middletown has increased the percentage of students reaching their NWEA MAP growth targets to 65% in reading, up from 44%, and 67% in math, up from 44%. Middletown has increased the percentage of students taking a college course in high school from 9% to 36%; students taking college courses are 54% FRL and 84% minority, which reflects the population distribution. In past five years, they increased the graduation rate from 54% to 87%, and decreased the gap between white and minority student graduation rates from 16 to 6 percentage points.

 “Our academic growth this year reflects the high expectations we have for our district, our students, and our families. At Middletown our commitment to personalized learning comes from a desire to innovate and sustain a culture of excellence where each student’s potential is realized. Our community is proud of the kind of district we are becoming through our work with Education Elements over the last three years.” 

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