Research Student Success Model 

Canyon Grove Academy is an environmentally responsible and multi-sensory learning center that empowers students to be accountable for their educational journey.


Student-Led Learning and motivation – Empower students to be accountable.

Duke, N. K., Halvorsen, A.-L., & Strachan, S. L. (2016). Project-based learning not just for STEM anymore. Phi Delta Kappan, 98(1), 14–19. Abstract retrieved from

Full text available for a fee from

The popularity of project-based learning has been driven in part by a growing number of STEM schools and programs. But STEM subjects are not the only fertile ground for project-based learning (PBL). Social studies and literacy content, too, can be adapted into PBL units to benefit teaching and learning, the authors argue. They review key studies on PBL in social studies and literacy education, two examples of successful social studies/literacy PBL units, and conclude with tips for developing social studies and literacy projects in classrooms.

Parsons, S. A., Mallory, J. A., Parsons, A. W., Peters-Burton, E. E., & Burrowbridge, S. C. (2018). Sixth-grade students’ engagement in academic tasks. Journal of Education Research, 111,(2), 232–245. Abstract retrieved from Full text available for a fee from

Student engagement is important for teachers and researchers because it is associated with student achievement. Guided by self-determination theory, this year-long case study used observations and interviews to examine six students’ behavioral, affective, and cognitive engagement in integrated literacy and social studies tasks. Task differences were rated according to the degree to which tasks were authentic, collaborative, challenging, student directed, and sustained. Results demonstrated that, overall, students were more engaged in tasks that include a higher degree of these elements. In particular, students reported that they were engaged in tasks that included collaboration, new learning, and teacher support.

Evans, M., & Boucher, A. R. (2015, June). Optimizing the power of choice: Supporting student autonomy to foster motivation and engagement in learning. Mind, Brain, and Education, 9(2), 87–91. Abstract retrieved from and full text available for a fee from

Choice plays a critical role in promoting students’ intrinsic motivation and deep engagement in learning. Across a range of academic outcomes and student populations, positive impacts have been seen when student autonomy is promoted through meaningful and personally relevant choice. This article presents a theoretical perspective on the motivational role of choice in learning, based on self-determination theory. Theoretical principles and current research on student motivation and engagement are described. Conditions under which choice promotes students’ intrinsic motivation are then presented.

21st century adaptive teaching and individualized learning operationalized as specific blends of student-centered instructional events: A systematic review and meta‐analysis

Teaching methods that individualize and adapt instructional conditions to K‐12 learners’ needs, abilities, and interests help improve learning achievement. The most important variables are the teacher’s role in the classroom as a guide and mentor and the adaptability of learning activities and materials.

Wehmeyer, M. L., Shogren, K. A., Toste, J. R., & Mahal, S. (2017). Self-determined learning to motivate struggling learners in reading and writing. Intervention in School and Clinic, 52(5), 295–303. Abstract retrieved from and full text available for a fee from

Promoting self-determined learning through student-directed learning strategies has been documented to promote more positive school-related outcomes for upper elementary grade learners with disabilities and other students who are struggling. These strategies are typically introduced in multicomponent interventions combining several student-directed learning strategies such as self-monitoring, self-evaluation, antecedent cue regulation, and self-instruction. Such interventions have established efficacy in promoting a wide array of academic outcomes. Students’ motivation is consistently related to academic achievement, but it has been found to change over time, with intrinsic motivation’s having marked decreases into the later elementary years and into middle school. This article reviews the literature on the impact of promoting self-determination and self-determined learning strategies that can be used to promote more positive reading and writing outcomes to enable students to become autonomous learners.

Pink, Daniel H. Drive: (2009) The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. Riverhead Books, New York, New York. Available at Amazon 

Most people believe that the best way to motivate is with rewards like money—the carrot-and-stick approach. That’s a mistake, says Daniel H. Pink (author of To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Motivating Others). In this provocative and persuasive new book, he asserts that the secret to high performance and satisfaction-at work, at school, and at home—is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world.

Daniel Pink | TEDGlobal 2009 The Puzzle of Motivation

Career analyst Dan Pink examines the puzzle of motivation, starting with a fact that social scientists know but most managers don’t: Traditional rewards aren’t always as effective as we think. Listen for illuminating stories — and maybe, a way forward.

Hannum, W. H., Irvin, M. J., Lei, P., & Farmer, T. W. (2008). Effectiveness of using learner-centered principles on student retention in distance education courses in rural schools. Distance Education, 29(3), 211–229. doi:10.1080/ 01587910802395763 Abstract retrieved from Full text available for a fee.

Researchers find student-centered learning approaches help underserved kids achieve

Four new SCOPE case studies show that learning environments emphasizing supportive relationships between students and teachers can boost achievement.

Evidence for Student-Centered Learning.indd

Grades Fail at Motivating Students. Intrinsic Motivation Works Better 

There is a long standing belief that grades are important because they motivate students to do the work. Take them away, and kids won’t do anything.

This sentiment is widely held, and accepted as a fact, yet there is little to no evidence or research that proves that grades make students learn more or work harder in school. In fact, there is ample evidence that grades actually do the opposite: They hurt academic motivation and inhibit learning.

Rather than focus on grades to motivate students, we should focus on these intrinsic motivators. Deci and Ryan’s framework for motivation, called Self Determination Theory, has identified three elements that foster intrinsic motivation: autonomy, competence and relatedness. Autonomy simply means choice. Students need to feel like they are in control of their learning. Along with choice, students also need to develop competence. Schools must provide students the opportunity to learn new skills. Students have an innate desire to feel like they are growing, getting better and developing new abilities.  To cultivate competence we need to let students choose how they learn. Finally, students need relatedness. They need a sense of belonging and meaningful connection. They need to feel like they are a valued part of a larger community. The way we provide this to students is by showing them they are respected and cared for. Research shows that when students feel respected and cared for, they in turn respect and care for people in their community.

We need to show kids that they matter more than their grades.

It’s 2019. So Why Do 21st-Century Skills Still Matter?

Instead of relying on textbooks and teacher direction, these students had to think critically about unfolding events, collaborate with peers and adults, and make creative use of digital tools to communicate their ideas. …. all have the potential to disrupt what we think of as traditional, teacher-centered education by giving students more voice in how they learn.  The third and current phase of the 21st-century learning movement is all about “empowerment,” says Kay. How wide is the gap between lofty aspirations for learning and day-to-day classroom practice? It’s hard to measure, but leaders at the forefront of the 21st-century learning movement tell me they still see too many students sitting passively while teachers deliver instruction; too much technology is still used to replace routine tasks rather than turbo-charge the experience of learning.

Making sense of school innovation: Five categories of practice revealed  1. Blended Learning.  2. Project-Based Learning  interdisciplinary/multidisciplinary, connecting local and global, design thinking, service learning, exhibitions, and real-world problem solving. 3. Competency-Based Education: This set of practices is linked to assessment, grading, and systems that measure learning based on competency rather than seat time.   4. Equity and Social-Emotional Learning: This set of practices supports students’ overall well-being , commitment to whole child. 5. Shifting boundaries between school and the real world, like credit for learning outside the classroom.

Measuring what matters: competency

Mastery learning in a flipped classroom.  The pace of a class should match what each student is ready to learn, as a way to ensure they’re really grasping material.

Individualized Learning Plans

Solberg, S., Martin, J., Larson, M., Nichols, K., Heidi, B., Lillis, J., & Costa, L. (2018). Promoting quality Individualized Learning Plans throughout the lifespan: A revised and updated “ILP HOW TO GUIDE 2.0.” Washington, DC: The National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability (NCWD) For Youth. Retrieved from

Tomlinson, C., Brighton, C., Hertberg, H., Callahan, C., Moon, T., Brimijoin, K., Conover, L., Reynolds, T. (2003). Differentiating instruction in response to student readiness, interest, and learning profile in academically diverse classrooms: a review of literature. Journal for the Education of the Gifted, 27(2-3), 119-145. Abstract retrieved from and full text available for a fee from 

Both the current school reform and standards movements call for enhanced quality of instruction for all learners. Recent emphases on heterogeneity, special education inclusion, and reduction in out-of-class services for gifted learners, combined with escalations in cultural diversity in classrooms, make the challenge of serving academically diverse learners in regular classrooms seem an inevitable part of a teacher’s role. Nonetheless, indications are that most teachers make few proactive modifications based on learner variance. This review of literature examines a need for “differentiated” or academically responsive instruction. It provides support in theory and research for differentiating instruction based on a model of addressing student readiness, interest, and learning profile for a broad range of learners in mixed-ability classroom settings.

Blended and Hybrid Learning

Blended/Hybrid  learning   In many schools, blended learning is emerging as a hybrid innovation that is a sustaining innovation relative to the traditional classroom. This hybrid form is an attempt to deliver “the best of both worlds”—that is, the advantages of online learning combined with all the benefits of the traditional classroom. Replacing the classroom with a student-centric design. We predict that hybrid schools, which combine existing schools with new classroom models, will be the dominant model of schooling in the United States in the future.

Blended learning –  Mr. Vander Ark and other advocates of the new model say that using blended learning to transform education and the traditional classroom means more than just incorporating an online element into instruction, giving kids tablets, or having students supplement class material with courses from Khan Academy (the popular nonprofit interactive education website that allows the teacher to “flip the classroom”: Students learn a concept online at home and apply it in class with a teacher).

Advocates of blended learning say that, when done well, it is as much about the time kids are off-line as the time they’re online – delegating more rote concepts to online instruction so that teachers can better use class time for small-group discussion, one-on-one check-ins, group projects, or targeted tutoring if students are struggling.

Standards-based learning/grading

Iamarino, D. L. (2014). The benefits of standards based grading: A critical evaluation of modern grading practices. Current Issues in Education, 17(2), 1–11.

This paper explores the methodology and application of an assessment philosophy known as standards based grading, via a critical comparison of standards based grading to other assessment philosophies commonly employed at the elementary, secondary, and post secondary levels of education. Evidenced by examples of increased student engagement and more thorough comprehension of course materials, standards based grading is illustrated   as an effective replacement for conventional points based grading. The analysis also identifies and responds to common issues and concerns inherent in the application of standards based grading, and includes a review of relevant literature and research in support of standards based grading as a progressive and successful alternative to more conventional assessment philosophies.

Hardegree, A. C. (2012). Standards-based assessment and high stakes testing: Accuracy of standards based grading (Doctoral Dissertation). Lynchburg, VA: Liberty University.

This quantitative study examines whether standards-based grade reporting accurately informs student academic achievement on standardized criterion-referenced tests for all students.


UMTSS Framework for Mathematics

Utah’s Multi-Tiered System of Supports for Mathematics

Research articles that support our math program and how we approach math

Utah’s Essential Standards Mathematics–this is the Covid-19 special edition designed for schools having to move to a blended model. Canyon Grove is already following many of the recommendations.

Benefits of Using Paper & Pencil in Math.

Differentiation in language arts

Walet, J. (2011). Differentiating for struggling readers and writers: improving motivation and metacognition through multisensory methods & explicit strategy instruction. Journal of the American Academy of Special Education Professionals, Spring/Summer, 83-91. Abstract retrieved from  Full text available from

This paper examines the issue of struggling readers and writers, and offers suggestions to help teachers increase struggling students’ motivation and metacognition. Suggestions include multisensory methods that make use of the visual, auditory and kinesthetic learning pathways, as well as explicit strategy instruction to improve students’ ability to self-regulate and apply learning strategies.

Lauria, J. (2010). Differentiation through learning style responsive strategies. Kappa Delta Pi Record, 47(1), 24-29. Abstract retrieved from 

Full text available for a fee from

Many children are in dire need of differentiated instruction to support their unique learning needs. Differentiated instruction seeks to maximize each student’s growth by recognizing that students have different ways of learning, different interests, different ways of responding to instruction, and preferred ways of learning or expressing themselves. Learners would benefit from being taught to use individualized learning-style homework and study strategies to help them succeed. With homework and study strategies differentiated to meet individual learning styles, elementary and middle school students are empowered to teach themselves. In this article, the author describes the learning-style model and discusses the advantages of diverse instructional strategies based on the learning-style preferences of students of all ages. She offers some steps for practitioners interested in exploring methods of helping students to discover their individual learning-style strengths and preferences.

Reis, S., McCoach, B., Little, C., Muller, L., & Kaniskan, B. (2011). The Effects of differentiated instruction and enrichment pedagogy on reading achievement in five elementary schools. American Educational Research Journal, 48(2), 462 – 501. Abstract retrieved from Full text available for a fee from

This experimental study examined the effect of a differentiated, enriched reading program on students’ oral reading fluency and comprehension using the schoolwide enrichment model–reading (SEM-R). Treatment and control conditions were randomly assigned to 63 teachers and 1,192 second through fifth grade students across five elementary schools. Using multilevel modeling, significant differences favoring the SEM-R were found in reading fluency in two schools (Cohen’s d effect sizes of .33 and .10) and in reading comprehension in the high-poverty urban school (Cohen’s d = .27), with no achievement differences in the remaining schools. These results demonstrate that an enrichment reading approach, with differentiated instruction and less whole group instruction, was as effective as or more effective than a traditional whole group basal approach.


Braund, M., & Reiss, M. (2006). Towards a More Authentic Science Curriculum: The contribution of out‐of‐school learning. International Journal of Science Education, 28(12), 1373-1388. doi:10.1080/09500690500498419 . Abstract retrieved from Full text available for a fee.

In many developed countries of the world, pupil attitudes to school science decline progressively across the age range of secondary schooling while fewer students are choosing to study science at higher levels and as a career. Responses to these developments have included proposals to reform the curriculum, pedagogy, and the nature of pupil discussion in science lessons. We support such changes but argue that far greater use needs to be made of out‐of‐school sites in the teaching of science. Such usage will result in a school science education that is more valid and more motivating. We present an “evolutionary model” of science teaching that looks at where learning and teaching take place, and draws together thinking about the history of science and developments in the nature of learning over the past 100 years or so. Our contention is that laboratory‐based school science teaching needs to be complemented by out‐of‐school science learning that draws on the actual world (e.g., through field trips), the presented world (e.g., in science centres, botanic gardens, zoos and science museums), and the virtual worlds that are increasingly available through information technologies.

Watson, J. (2008b). Promising practices in online learning: Blended learning: The convergence of online and face-to-face education, accessed 1 January 2018, Retrieved from

The rise of the Internet tremendously increased the quality of digital classroom resources, and schools and districts today are combining online learning with face-to-face instruction, called blended learning. By combining the very best elements of online and face-to-face learning, author John Watson argues that blended learning will emerge as the predominant education model of the future.

Social Emotional Learning (Leadership Lessons)

Bridgeland, J., Bruce, M., & Hariharan, A. (2013). The missing piece: A national teacher survey on how social and emotional learning can empower children and transform schools. A report for CASEL. Washington DC: Civic Enterprises & Hart Research Associates. Abstract retrieved from Full text found from

The central message of this report is that teachers across America understand that social and emotional learning (SEL) is critical to student success in school, work, and life. Social and emotional learning involves the processes of developing competencies, including self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making. 

Snyder, F. J., Flay, B. R., Vuchinich, S., Acock, A., Washburn, I. J., Beets, M. W., & Li, K.-K. (2010). Impact of a social-emotional and character development program on school-level indicators of academic achievement, absenteeism, and disciplinary outcomes: A matched-pair, cluster-randomized, controlled trial. Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 3(1), 26–55. Retrieved from

This paper reports the effects of a comprehensive elementary school-based social emotional and character education program on school-level achievement, absenteeism, and disciplinary outcomes utilizing a matched-pair, cluster randomized, controlled design. The Positive Action Hawai`i trial included 20 racially/ethnically diverse schools (mean enrollment = 544) and was conducted from the 2002-03 through the 2005-06 academic years. Using school level archival data, analyses comparing change from baseline (2002) to one-year post trial (2007) revealed that intervention schools scored 9.8% better on the TerraNova (2nd ed.) test for reading and 8.8% on math; 20.7% better in Hawaii Content and Performance Standards scores for reading and 51.4% better in math; and that intervention schools reported 15.2% lower absenteeism and fewer suspensions (72.6%) and retentions (72.7%). Overall, effect sizes were moderate to large (range 0.5-1.1) for all of the examined outcomes. Sensitivity analyses using permutation models and random-intercept growth curve models substantiated results. The results provide evidence that a comprehensive school-based program, specifically developed to target student behavior and character, can positively influence school-level achievement, attendance, and disciplinary outcomes concurrently.

Parental Involvement

Research Overview: Teachers Involve Parents in Schoolwork (TIPS)

There have been at least six separate research studies and numerous articles over the past two decades examining the effects of the Teachers Involve Parents in Schoolwork (TIPS) approach to interactive homework assignments. The approach was developed by researchers led by Dr. Joyce Epstein at the Center on School, Family, and Community Partnerships at Johns Hopkins University, and came out of the group’s research on homework and parental involvement


Engaging Families for Math Success…/blog14_engaging-families-for-math-success.asp

Teachers and school staff can support parents in developing positive math attitudes by introducing growth mindset thinking and strategies for building math confidence and persistence. A growth mindset means that you believe that your intellectual abilities can be increased with effort and hard work. 6 This promotes engaging in productive struggle and trying new methods. Community engagement activities and school-family math supports can reinforce the importance of growth mindset and persistence in math to children and their families alike.

The Supreme Court Ruling Against An Obscure 19th Century Act Of Bigotry Will Improve Education For Millions: Decades’ worth of data reinforce and help explain the reality that educational outcomes are improved when parents have the opportunity to fully exercise their constitutional right to direct their children’s education.

Laws Across the Country Are Keeping Parents From Making Choices About Their Kids’ Education   Not only do parents possess a constitutional right to direct the education of their children, honoring this right leads to better schools and better educational outcomes. Providing parents with choices helps parents tailor their child’s school to the particular child’s learning needs and styles. After all, parents who are empowered to make educational choices — whether by government programs or their own resources — do not necessarily make uniform decisions about their children’s education. They may leave one child in public school, while a second child attends private school, or select different non-public options based on each child’s situation.

Online “Zoom” fatigue

Is Learning on Zoom the Same as In Person? Not to Your Brain

Avoiding Zoom Fatigue   To prevent Zoom fatigue, the most important tip is to limit use of videoconferencing technology.  The key is to use moderation with all types of technology while enjoying the connection and interactivity it can bring.

Virtual Platforms Are Helpful Tools but Can Add to Our Stress  While schools, businesses, health care facilities, courthouses, and many others started to heavily rely upon virtual platforms to continue their day-to-day operations, this technology has quickly become another source of stress and anxiety.