Community High School District 218 Meets Its Varied Student Needs from Special Education to AP Classes
Anthony is the English Curriculum Director for Community High School District 218 near Chicago, where he oversees thirteen schools. When Anthony first started, there was no district-wide vocabulary curriculum, and teachers were using textbooks, which they didn’t like. The district was also transitioning to a 1:1 format, and Anthony wanted to leverage its investment in technology by finding a differentiated vocabulary program that could adapt to the varied needs of all students in his district.
“With such a wide array of student abilities, ranging from almost no literacy to students in AP classes, we needed to find a program that addressed all the students we have in our district.”
In 2014, Anthony and a small group of teachers set out to review their vocabulary options. After investigating, they came up with two viable options, one of them being Membean. To decide which program best suited the needs of his teachers, Anthony split the teachers into two groups; each group tried one of the programs for a semester, then they switched and tried the other program for the next semester.
“We surveyed our students and teachers and, by a large margin, they preferred Membean. We primarily liked that Membean let us address problems at different levels for each student.’
“Each student was being challenged at their own level of difficulty with material they could handle,” says Anthony. His ELA departments also liked the adjustments they could make to accommodate their ELL students, such as limiting the number of new words students encounter or providing them with more time to study. In addition, Anthony liked that Membean could even be adapted to address Special Needs students, with features such as time modifications and a personalized curriculum that allowed them to learn and improve at their own pace. Membean didn’t make assumptions about where students should be in their learning.
“Membean has increased literacy in all subjects – its impact isn’t limited to English classes or test scores. It allows our students to learn, analyze, and communicate using higher forms of vocabulary in any subject.”
Since selecting Membean, Anthony regularly hears students in classes and hallways saying, “That’s a Membean word!” When visiting schools, he’s observed students using a higher level of vocabulary in classrooms and in their interactions with each other. Teachers often report to Anthony that students are incorporating Membean words into their writing as well. Students often report encountering Membean words on standardized tests such as the PSAT, SAT, MAP, and ACCESS for ELLs. They also admit that they likely would not have known the meaning of those words without Membean.