NAMPA — A program at Nampa’s Central Elementary School has improved academic achievement.

Students at the downtown Nampa school — which serves the largest population of economically-disadvantaged students throughout the district — have seen state test scores jump an average of 18 percent with the help of a personalized digital learning program.

More than 90 percent achieved proficiency in math and reading on their year-end state tests, according to Caroline Miller, communications specialist for Pearson Digital Learning.

With education services and technology from Pearson’s Waterford Early Learning digital courseware, students are receiving supplemental, individualized instruction in math, reading and science to help them reach these grade-level year-end goals and raise their state test scores.

“In the spring of 2009, our school was named a National Distinguished Title I School for our outstanding student achievement. In addition, in 2008 to 2009, we received two state awards recognizing the growth in reading by our students,” Central principal Cindy Thomas said.

The results are impressive, Miller said, because research shows that children from low-income communities often have not had the exposure to reading as their peers in middle-income families. Twenty percent of the school’s students are learning English at the same time they are learning math and other subjects. And 85 percent of the school’s students receive a free or reduced price lunch.

More than 200 students at Central learn with the Waterford Early Learning courseware each year in their classroom computer centers. The program measures each student’s strengths and weaknesses, then automatically focuses on the areas where the student needs help.

Teachers and staff are able to examine student progress and then adjust their classroom teaching schedules or give students additional help.

Since 2007 when Central Elementary School purchased Waterford Early Learning, students’ state test scores have increased and the school has consistently made Adequate Yearly Progress, Miller said.

In 2006-07 — prior to introducing the Waterford program — the year-end state test scores at Central showed that 78.8 percent of students were proficient in math and 70.2 percent of students were proficient in reading.

The next year, test scores jumped to 92.4 percent in math and 91.6 percent in reading.

This past year, the school’s year-end state test scores increased to 93 percent in math and 94 percent in reading.

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