Castlewood Elementary, a small rural school in northeastern South Dakota, started using Renaissance Accelerated Math® seven years ago, and fourth-grade teacher Mark Iverson says there’s no feasible way they’d ever give it up.
“We have completely revamped our rooms and changed our way of thinking,” said Iverson. “I couldn’t imagine going back to a textbook and paper. Textbooks just can’t compete with what Accelerated Math can do.”
Used in grades kindergarten through six, the math program allows Iverson and other Castlewood teachers to print practices from the day’s lesson, customized for each individual. All students receive immediate results on their work as soon as they scan in their answers.
“The teacher, as well as the student, instantly knows if the material was understood,” Iverson said. “No waiting for the next day, correcting papers for hours, or lost papers associated with the pre-Accelerated Math days.”
This means that no valuable time is lost, either. Advanced students are further challenged, while struggling students get the on-the-spot attention and additional practice they need. This year, Iverson’s students can also generate and score assignments—even review their progress—right from their home computers using Renaissance Home Connect.
“My struggling students have enjoyed the fact that they can get the next practice at home so they can get caught up,” Iverson said.
To help ensure that students don’t slip through the cracks and fall behind, Castlewood tracks student growth with Renaissance Star Math®. The data available through Star Math and Accelerated Math also help pace classroom instruction, offer alternate methods of instruction for a particular objective, and indicate student progress with respect to state standards. Iverson said that students at Castlewood move seamlessly from daily math practice with Accelerated Math to South Dakota’s State Test of Educational Progress (STEP).
“Accelerated Math has questions that are formulated very similar to most standardized tests, so students don’t waste time and effort trying to figure out what the question is asking,” Iverson said. “The other contributing factor to their success is the program’s daily reviews on previously mastered objectives. We may be talking about fractions on the current objective, but their practice will also include multiplication word problems from 20 days ago.”
Castlewood’s success with Accelerated Math stems from jumping in with both feet from the beginning. Despite ongoing funding challenges typical of a small school, each classroom received a scanner, laser printer, and laptop. Students were given folders with library card pockets inside for their scan cards.
“Each classroom turned into a self-sufficient, intensive, and engaged math paradise!” Iverson said. “We knew that for the program to succeed, we needed to go all in. The nice thing about Accelerated Math is that each and every student will succeed because it’s so individualized.”