Champion Schools

Q&A with Heather Ray and Nichole Jimenez

Principal and Interventionist Coordinator

Champion Schools, a charter located in Phoenix, Arizona has experienced exceptional academic gains earning them statewide recognition including being named Arizona Charter Schools Association's 2013 Charter School of the Year. Champion Schools implemented Galileo® K–12 Online in 2012–13 to inform instruction with a focus on intervention. At the end of that year, the Arizona Department of Education* raised their school rating from a C–rating to an A–rating which they have continued to maintain. The school's leadership attributes their impressive growth and sustained success to the school's focused approach to intervention supported by Galileo K–12 Online. Champion Schools' principal, Heather Ray, offered the following, "My advice to any school looking to improve academically would be to use the data derived from Galileo pretests, benchmark, and posttests. Expand beyond the basic reports and learn how to utilize all the different functions … Galileo offers. Use that information to drive your instructional practices."

What were the main things the school implemented that you believe were responsible for your success?

Heather Ray – Principal:
"We group students using the data we derive from Galileo benchmarks."

Nichole Jimenez – Interventionist Coordinator:
"The implementation of full time reading interventionists and math interventionists were a big contributing factor to our success. Specific intervention hours for each grade level were assigned, giving students the opportunity to receive small group support three times a week for 30 minutes to an hour in math, reading, or in both."

How did you identify students needing additional instructional assistance?

Nichole Jimenez – Interventionist Coordinator:
"To identify students needing additional instructional assistance we used the previous year's standardized test scores as well as our pretest scores from our Galileo benchmarks. The [Galileo Comprehensive Blueprint Assessment Series] benchmarks one, two, and three were used to monitor student progress throughout the year. We also used our performance objectives to see where students were struggling and formed our intervention groups to meet those specific needs."

Heather Ray – Principal:
"We used the data provided from our Galileo benchmarks to 'drill down' on specific performance objectives that had low rates of mastery and then we assigned tutoring or intervention groups to students that had similar academic deficiencies. We continued to use the [Galileo benchmark] data to help us form new groups and then [we] consistently changed the groups once mastery had occurred. [We] then moved on to address other deficient standards or performance objectives that each individual student had [that needed attention]."

Nichole Jimenez – Interventionist Coordinator:
"[At Champion Schools], student performance is assessed monthly for our Tier Two and Tier Three students. We use intervention quizzes [or formative assessments] created in Galileo to assess students in specific content standards that are covered [in these] groups. School-wide transition of intervention groups is based off our five Galileo test scores (pretest, three benchmarks, and posttest)."

What advice would you give to other schools who might want to implement an approach like yours?

Nichole Jimenez – Interventionist Coordinator:
"The data wall that we created at the beginning of the year is an important factor in our approach. We created one [data wall] for reading and [one for] math with ability to map out each grade level. It gives a visual of where our students were at the beginning of the year and the progress they are making. All of the cards are color coded which correlates to students [knowledge level] coming into the year [and is noted with] meeting, approaching, or falling far below [a particular standard]. Then with each assessment or movement between Tiers, we are able to see where our students are making progress. This [process of using the data wall with Galileo information] allows us to determine if certain grade levels are struggling more than the others. This ability helps us to drive our instruction to meet specific needs."

Heather Ray – Principal:
"I believe that learning how to effectively utilize our data has significantly helped us to achieve such extraordinary academic results. We try to be as data driven as possible and having Galileo has really allowed us to look at all the different aspects of our students learning and the connections from grade to grade. So my advice to any school looking to improve academically would be to use the data derived from Galileo pretests, benchmarks, and posttests. Expand beyond the basic reports and learn how to utilize all the different functions… Galileo offers. Use that information to then drive your instructional practices.

"Before [we received Galileo K-12 Online training], we were using Galileo at a far more basic level. It was helpful, but learning about all the different functions and capabilities [Galileo has to offer] has brought us to a whole new level of functionality and reporting. It has really helped us with implementing the Title I data wall and allows us to better meet the individual academic needs of our Title I students."

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*Arizona schools are labeled with an A-F Letter Grade Accountability System based on the growth and academic outcomes of students.

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