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 – from its compliance process, to its quality of instruction, and most importantly, for its students.
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 which are English Learners, effectively differentiating instruction to meet individual student English language proficiency needs is no easy feat.
Lilia and Martha’s approach was straightforward: First, streamline tasks and save time to build the capacity to help teachers. Then, leverage tools to scale the support.
This meant first figuring out how to streamline tedious workflows like EL progress towards reclassification and RFEP monitoring. Martha described these processes as a “nebulous cloud” with its time burden constantly hovering over the district’s teachers. By moving the forms online with Ellevation, the time spent filling out forms per student has been dramatically reduced from 20 minutes to 2 minutes. That means that without Ellevation it would take Moreno Valley a total of almost 7,000 hours or 278 days to process all of 20,000 RFEP forms!
By collecting more data and storing it in a way that was easy to share with others, specialists and facilitators could use the teacher input to better target instructional supports.
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.
As in the case with most districts, there were several other initiatives already taking place in MVUSD. 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.
Not surprisingly, Lilia and the rest of the MVUSD EL team remained committed to ensuring that all children can achieve their highest aspirations. 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: The teachers were already familiar with many of the strategies because they are based on best-practice instruction. However, the teachers weren’t adjusting their lessons because they didn’t know how to incorporate the strategies or how to differentiate based on their students’ needs.
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 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.”