African-American Students RAP Their Way to Excellence In Moreno Valley Elementary Schools
Project Moving Forward, backed by a $1.9 million federal grant, improved academic scores in two local schools. African American students at Hendrick Ranch Elementary School achieved impressive academic gains, where Academic Performance Index or API scores jumped 51 points
(Moreno Valley, CA) Students in two Moreno Valley elementary schools have become top academic achievers through a simple concept: learning vocabulary the RAP way!
Short for Rehearse, Analyze and Produce, RAP is based on 12 years of research by Dr. Linda Ventriglia-Navarrette, a Harvard educated researcher and professor at National University.
Hendrick Ranch and Armada Elementary schools posted the highest academic scores in their history, becoming the top two achieving elementary schools in 2013 among 23 in the Moreno Valley Unified School District. Both schools are located in low-income neighborhoods where academic achievement has suffered.
African American students at Hendrick Ranch Elementary School achieved impressive academic gains, where Academic Performance Index or API scores jumped 51 points while improvement was up 49 points at Armada. Hispanic students also made significant increases, moving from far below basic skills to proficiency in reading and math.
Based on the recent results, Hendrick Ranch was the only school in the District to achieve the state Academic Performance Index and Annual Yearly Progress scores. Armada was the only school where over 90 percent socially disadvantaged students achieved an academic performance index of 700. Hendrick Ranch achieved a 796 ranking.
How did they do it? By adopting a vocabulary instructional program called RAP, or the Rule of three. Armed with a $1.9 million federal grant funded by the U.S. Department of Education, the District created a partnership with National University where teachers learned how to increase student’s academic achievement through vocabulary instruction.
The program provided 60 hours of teacher training and coaching, using the Rule of 3 or RAP as ways to teach words across the curriculum.
Research shows that improving academic vocabulary has the highest correlation with success in school.
Other educators agree. E.D. Hirsch, a widely known academic researcher, says, “The achievement gap between Black and White, rich and poor is not due to lack of money. It largely comes down to a vocabulary gap, because words name things.” Hirsch found that poor children have a massive vocabulary deficit that today’s U.S. education system does not address.
In the RAP program, students rehearse words by clicking out, spelling and saying the letters of the words, including focused conversations about the words. They teach vocabulary words to a partner. Students also analyze word structures and produce their own individual meanings for words in their Power Word books.
Many teachers at Hendrik and Armada elementary schools reported that the RAP program was popular with students. They enjoyed learning new words, which became an exciting part of the school day.
Robert Gordon, who was principal of Hendrick Ranch said, “These vocabulary development strategies made a significant difference in students’ achievements.”
Armada principal Jeff Jones said, “Armada’s teachers improved the delivery of consistent, effective and engaging instructional strategies that addressed the critical areas of vocabulary development and reading comprehension.”
At the district, the performance results were well received. “We are extremely proud of our students at Hendrick and Armada,” said Dr. Judy White, Superintendent of Schools in Moreno Valley. “This program demonstrates how students in economically disadvantaged areas can achieve remarkable academic results by focusing on their learning styles. It captures how students learn.”
For more information on the Moreno Valley Unified School District’s call the District office at (951) 571-7500 or go to the website at MVUSD.net.
About the Moreno Valley Unified School District
Moreno Valley Unified School District, with 3,400 employees and 35,000 students.
Moreno Valley Unified School District’s mission is to prepare all students academically and socially to become productive members of society.