Spotlight on Visible Men Academy From F-rated to A-mazing in two years

Setting Goals, Seeing Results

How iReady Helped One School Receive an “A” in Two Years

Neil Phillips founded Visible Men Academy (VMA) to address the chronic underperformance of an at-risk student population about which he has two core beliefs: first, capability is high, and second, expectations are too low. As the staff at VMA will tell you, “[While] 100 percent of our students live at or below the poverty line, 100 percent are capable of excellence.”

The Situation

Several years ago, VMA received a disappointing result following the administration of the Florida Standards Assessments (FSA). Despite some substantial individual gains from the previous year, too few students received passing scores, and VMA received a failing school grade.

Given the many challenges facing their students, VMA leaders knew they were playing catch-up. “Over 80 percent of the kids come in about two years or more below grade level,” says a school administrator. “So we aimed for them to achieve at least one-and-a-half years of growth in each school year.”

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“If they’re going to grade it, then we’re going to try for an A, despite any misgivings I have about the overemphasis on standardized testing.”

—Neil Phillips, Cofounder and Head of School at Visible Men Academy in Bradenton, Florida

Taking Action: How VMA Uses iReady Data to Differentiate Instruction

For 2016–2017, VMA adopted iReady Assessment and iReady Personalized Instruction for Mathematics and Reading in Grades K–5.

“We wanted a tool that could inform instruction, adapt to student needs regardless of level, and help parents understand how their kids were doing," says Tiffany Mickens, Assistant Head of School. “We work hard to monitor our usage and lesson pass rates, and our teachers love using the data!”

We Asked VMA Students, “What Is iReady?”

Collage of four images. Head with headphones, whiteboard with student names on sticky notes, three students working on i-Ready with a teacher helping them, fingers on touchpad.


VMA Sees Results

One year into the FSA Improvement Plan, VMA achieved such extraordinary growth that it received a congratulatory letter from the governor. VMA had ranked in the top one percent of Florida schools for growth in Mathematics and the top two percent for growth in English Language Arts (ELA). After year two, the school was awarded an A grade.

Percentage of VMA Students with Passing FSA Scores

Line graph titled "Percentage of VMA Students with Passing FSA Scores" that shows Mathematics and English Language Arts scores increasing from 2016 to 2018.
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See How i-Ready Works

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VMA Transforms Their School

Read how students, teachers, and administrators worked together.