Texas middle school sees stellar STAAR results with IXL

When Dr. Darwert Johnson became principal of John Adams Middle School in Grand Prairie, Texas, in 2015, the school was designated as “underperforming ” by the Texas Education Agency. Dr. Johnson and his leadership team introduced a blended learning model focused on data-driven small group instruction and technology-enabled individual practice. Now known as the Digital Arts and Technology Academy (DATA) at Adams Middle School, they are one of the highest performing schools in the district—thanks in large part to IXL.

Immediate impact

Dr. Johnson says, “IXL provided us with a 30-day trial, and within that 30 days—with the combination of us making sure that our teachers were using best practices and implementing the small groups, blended learning, and rotations in the classroom at the middle school level—we saw double-digit gains in our math performance on our nine week assessments.”

Based on these results, Dr. Johnson decided to purchase IXL Math for all students for the 2017-18 school year. After seeing gains of more than 20% in math on the first quarterly benchmark, he decided to implement IXL English Language Arts, too. 

IXL has become the primary program DATA students use for the technology-enhanced learning station for both math and ELA. Teachers use IXL to reinforce skills taught in class, provide extra practice time, address skill gaps for struggling students, and extend learning for on-level and advanced students. 

The new blended learning model, combined with IXL implementation, led to huge gains. Students at DATA went from a 60% passing rate on the Texas STAAR in 2017 to a 72% passing rate in 2019.

Via Education Elements webinar A Tool with Many Benefits: How the Digital Arts & Technology Academy at Adams MS Improves Student Outcomes


An effective distance learning solution

“I’m pretty confident that if COVID did not play a factor in the 2020 school year, we would be seeing even higher growth from what you see here,” says Dr. Johnson. 

In the spring of 2020, Texas statewide assessments were cancelled, and DATA moved to a virtual learning format. IXL made the transition to at-home learning easier for students and teachers. Many students continued to use IXL, even when it was not specifically assigned to them. With IXL, learning is available for students 24/7.

Amber Phillips, a master teacher for ELA at DATA, says, “Our kids were still using IXL at home in the middle of a pandemic—which shows you they actually do care about their learning!” Ebelechukwa Agu, a master teacher for math, says, “We hit the ground running…students who used IXL did not lose steam at all.”


Above and beyond test scores

For Dr. Johnson, success isn’t just about test scores. He says they have seen student confidence levels go up and behavioral issues go down. They are also seeing more students take the Algebra placement test in 7th grade and aspiring to higher-level courses. “With IXL, our students have really gained confidence,” he says. “They have started to believe in what they could achieve.”

Read the full case study for more details on how DATA at Adams school made their IXL implementation a success. 

Want to try using IXL with your students? Visit www.ixl.com/membership/teachers/trial for a free 30-day classroom trial!