How Moreno Valley USD added capacity to help teachers rethink differentiated instruction
Ellevation is proud to play a role in serving school districts as they help their English Learners achieve their highest aspirations. We are also delighted to showcase the gains schools are making with the help of our tools, including Ellevation Strategies. As part of our Success Stories series, enjoy this piece about how Moreno Valley Unified School District in California is using Ellevation as an integrated solution for EL performance and growth.
When Lilia Villa, Director of the EL Program, and Martha Cepeda-Medina, Coordinator, at Moreno Valley Unified School District (MVUSD) were first introduced to Ellevation, they knew it would be a game-changer. With almost 35,000 students, 20% of whom are English Learners, effectively differentiating instruction for linguistically diverse learners is no small feat. Ellevation offers a suite of tools that make it easier.
Lilia and Martha’s approach was straightforward: First, give teachers time back by streamlining administrative tasks and making it easier to collaborate with colleagues around the needs of ELs. Then, with more time to focus on differentiation, provide teachers with best-practice instructional resources tied to individual student data. In Ellevation, they saw the tools they needed to deliver on this vision.
To start, Lilia and Martha focused on streamlining the two most paper-intensive processes in their district: Reclassification and RFEP Monitoring. Martha described these processes as a “nebulous cloud,” with its time burden constantly hovering over teachers. By moving the process online with Ellevation, time spent filling out RFEP Monitoring forms has been dramatically reduced by 250 work-days* annually! That’s a lot of new time freed up for differentiated instruction!
After successfully saving the EL team a significant amount of time, Lilia and Martha reallocated the team’s effort toward instruction and invested in technology to help reach every teacher with English Learners. Enter Ellevation Strategies.
Ellevation Strategies provides research-based best practices, strategies and activities to help classroom teachers of any grade or subject area provide the language development support their students need. While Lilia was convinced this was the direction they needed to go, they needed to be mindful of the other initiatives already taking place in MVUSD competing for attention. For one, teachers were just trained on using Ellevation for reclassification. Simultaneously, MVUSD was actively transitioning from the California English Language Development Test (CELDT) to its successor, the English Language Proficiency Assessments for California (ELPAC). Even more, the district recently started implementing new EL and ELA curriculums. There was some understandable fear that introducing yet another new offering might overburden teachers and make them resent rather than rejoice over Ellevation.
In spite of these constraints, Lilia and the rest of the MVUSD EL team remained committed to expanding their use of Ellevation so that the important data they were capturing on students could inform instruction in the classroom. Their decision to introduce Ellevation Strategies was the natural next step to advance the district’s current focus on supporting EL students.
She explains, “It’s never going to be the right time. We just have to do it because it’s the right thing for our kids.”
While working to implement Ellevation Strategies, Lillia and Martha quickly realized the benefits of the technology: It wasn't just that the Strategies and Activities were recognizable as best-practice instruction, but also the connection to student data which made the differentiation more actionable. Ellevation Strategies added an important layer of relevance by tying their students’ proficiency data to differentiated classroom supports so teachers knew exactly how to differentiate for their English Learners.
After a recent training, teachers were asked how they hoped to alter their practice based on Ellevation Strategies. The response was overwhelmingly positive with one teacher commenting, “I plan on utilizing Ellevation Strategies with all students, not just my English Learners, but it’s helpful to see specific guidance driven by our student data on how to scaffold for varying levels of ELs.”
Martha said, “Our teachers already know what content to teach, but Ellevation Strategies now supports them with the how and equips every teacher with the tools they need to bring all levels of EL into any lesson.”
The EL program at Moreno Valley now spends less time on compliance and more time supporting teachers with instruction. In turn, the district has raised the bar for language instruction and is better able to serve its English Language students.
Martha says, “Ellevation has allowed our department to have a huge impact on teachers and students across the district.”
*We decided to crunch the numbers: Without Ellevation, it took Moreno Valley 20 minutes to complete each of its 20,000 RFEP forms annually. That equates to a total of 400,000 minutes…or almost 7,000 hours…or an incredible 278 days to process all the forms! With Ellevation, the district was able to streamline the process down to just two minutes per form, saving them about 360,000 minutes or 250 days!