Students with Disabilities



Students With Disabilities Say Goodbye to Achievement Gap in Math Gain 40 Percentage Points in Math AYP Scores





Students with disabilities (SWD) at Banks Stephens Middle School have closed the achievement gap with math gains of 41 percentage points - from 37% to 78% for students who meet or exceed the standard.

  • In 2005, the gap between SWD and students without disabilities was 42 percentage points. In 2008 this gap was reduced to only 2 percentage points.
  • Banks Stephens SWD went from 2 points above to 38 points above the state average for SWD.
  • The difference in Banks Stephens Middle School beginning in 2006 has been the implementation of iLearn for SWD.
  • In Marietta City Schools, Georgia, where similar success was obtained, Dr. Lee Howard had these comments: “We were not satisfied with the results we were getting with the other instructional programs we were using. And it began to ring true that kids with disabilities could not be expected to learn at typical levels, or certainly not higher, because their disabilities were interfering with that and would always interfere with that. That’s one of the things that iLearn has taught us as veteran educators – that many kids with disabilities are capable of two and three years growth per year. The goal of having children catchup… to actually catch up, we are beginning to realize here.”
  • Rodney Ulmer, Special Education teacher in Marietta Middle School, stated, “My students didn’t want their friends to see that the textbook they had was lower and not equal to what their friends were working on. iLearn has made them feel more normal, which is a great thing with special ed students. They’ve become more confident in their math skills and around their friends and peers.”

Students control their own pace as they go through the small incremental steps that lead to understanding. And, they have fun achieving success every step of the way.






At Banks Stephens Middle School the percentage of students with disabilities meeting state proficiency more than doubled ‐ literally closing the Achievement Gap between them and students without disabilities statewide.

Over the past three years, the percentage of students with disabilities meeting state proficiency at Banks Stephens increased from 37% to 78%, This increase of 41 percentage points is remarkable since the statewide average for students with disabilities increased just five percentage points, from 35% to 40% over the same period. (See Chart below for details.)

As a result of these gains, the “achievement gap” – the difference between students with disabilities and students without disabilities statewide ‐ has been almost eliminated at Banks Stephens. The “gap” has been decreased from 42 percentage points in 2005 to just 2 percentage points in 2008. These results helped Banks Stephens receive the Georgia Department of Education nomination for the 2009 National Title I Distinguished School award.

“We have high expectations for our special education students,” said Sandy Metts, instructional coach for the Monroe County school. “And we use a program that gives the kids confidence.”

That program is iLearn Math, a computer‐based math intervention program that closes the achievement gap between low and high‐performing students. The computer gives all the students a series of tests to determine their learning “gaps” in math. It then provides individualized instruction on the math they need. Students cannot advance to the next step until they master the material so they work at their own pace. They move on to the next step when they are ready. This gives the student a greater sense of accomplishment in math, something that many low-performing students have never experienced.

Teachers receive instant reports so they know the status of every student at any given moment. This gives them the freedom to tutor individual students who need extra help in a certain area. Rather than teach all students the same lesson on the same day, the teacher is providing instruction for each student at his or her level. In other words, iLearn Math assesses, prescribes, instructs and reports results while the teacher monitors progress and helps individual students as needed.

“We have created a culture of individualized instruction,” Metts said. Instead of talking about daily lesson plans, “teachers analyze their own data, look at benchmarks, and talk about individual student needs. These are professionals doing a professional job.”

Banks Stephens has also excelled in meeting tough federal benchmarks. In 2005, prior to using iLearn, students with disabilities did not meet AYP requirements. In the three years of using iLearn, they have exceeded AYP requirements by a substantial margin ‐ 17 percentage points in 2008.

“All students in our building use the (iLearn) program,” Metts explained. “All kids are encouraged to use the lab. Children at greater risk use it up to 2‐3 times a day. They start realizing they can do it. They see there’s more than one way to do a math problem. We find that very advantageous when they see there are different approaches.”

Metts likes the fact that the program avoids cute animation or gimmicks. “Video games are for home,” she said. “This is work. When you take out the factor that no one else can do it for them, and they know they did it themselves, it’s more powerful.” She said the students remain engaged because they are accomplishing something they have never been able to accomplish, not because it’s “entertaining.”

Metts likes the fact that the program avoids cute animation or gimmicks. “Video games are for home,” she said. “This is work. When you take out the factor that no one else can do it for them, and they know they did it themselves, it’s more powerful.” She said the students remain engaged because they are accomplishing something they have never been able to accomplish, not because it’s “entertaining.”