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Compton Unified School District Focuses on Three Areas to Ensure ROI on DreamBox Math

Success Stories


Compton Unified School District

Los Angeles, CA

Located in the south-central region of Los Angeles, Compton Unified School District (CUSD) is one of 80 school districts in Los Angeles. When Superintendent Dr. Darrin Brawley arrived at CUSD over 10 years ago, the district had low on-time graduation rates, low achievement scores, and students who needed extra support and services. Brawley believed that CUSD teachers and students deserved the support necessary to thrive. He developed an approach that would eliminate the opportunity gap for students in technology by partnering with organizations such as Digital Promise, Apple, Verizon, Boeing, Microsoft, and Google.

After over a decade of careful planning, targeted support, and thoughtful strategy and execution across every stakeholder level, the district has experienced a dramatic upward shift. It’s marked by increases in student achievement rates, a graduation rate nearing 90%, dramatic facilities improvements, and a focus on STEAM throughout all schools.

DreamBox Math's Impact


One of the technology programs Dr. Brawley’s team has implemented is DreamBox Math. The program has been instrumental in increasing student math scores and proved especially critical during school closures. With DreamBox Math, students have just-in-time, personalized math instruction regardless of teacher availability, skill, or learning environment. 

DreamBox Math is one of our partners for preventing learning loss . . . the program has the ability to adapt to where the child is. To meet them where they’re at, to provide them with the foundational skills necessary to get started . . . and build from there. We saw an intense increase in math achievement by students that participated in the program, and we saw those students increase several grade levels over the course of the school year.
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Dr. Darrin Brawley
Superintendent, CUSD

Dr. Brawley attributes the district’s return on learning with DreamBox Math to three specific focus areas: Communication, ongoing data reviews, and engagement.

Focus Area 1: Communication

Clear and aligned communication about a program’s purpose, value, and expectations.

Ineffective tools, unused solutions, and program churn can be a distraction, a waste of funds, and have a negative impact on student learning. In fact, a recent study suggests that as much as 67% of educational software product licenses go unused. Educators cite poor communication about available technologies as a key reason.

Fortunately, the leadership team at CUSD has adopted a strategic approach to ensure teachers are not only aware of available programs, but also understand the program’s purpose. Dr. Brawley explained that providing clarity of the rationale, benefits and expectations for programs like DreamBox Math improves the program’s success within the organization. “We must focus on the purpose. If you can’t get to the why of a decision, it becomes difficult for people to see the usefulness of a program.” Dr. Brawley continued, “Imagine being a teacher, and being concerned about implementing three different tools for support. As leaders, we must communicate the purpose of each tool and make sure teachers know that the use of each tool is intentional.”

For Dr. Brawley, communicating the purpose and intention of DreamBox Math began by helping teachers understand what made the program unique and effective. “We saw DreamBox Math was different because it meets students where they are, provides support and adapts to their needs as they master different math concepts. With the pandemic,DreamBox Math was the perfect tool to address learning gaps in mathematics. We doubled down on our message about the importance of how DreamBox Math provides students with lessons at their current level of mastery and adapts to fill in those missing links.” This continuous messaging to stakeholders at every level has been helpful to drive program adoption and ensure effective tool usage. By 2020, teachers clearly understood the benefit of the program and saw positive student results correlated with DreamBox Math lesson completion.

Another important component of the CUSD communication strategy was to reassure educators that DreamBox Math would not be a heavy lift or a burden on the day-to-day classroom demands. Rather, it would add to the learning experience.

The tools you provide to teachers shouldn't be just one more thing. Tools should create an advantage for educators to gain better insight, focus on student needs and increase instructional time.
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Shawnte Clewis
K-8 Math Administrator, CUSD

District leaders understand that teachers balance many competing priorities. They’re responsible for student instruction, implementing programs, student behavior, classroom management, and so much more. The district strives to provide programs proven to have a positive impact on learning outcomes and make teachers’ jobs easier. To ensure a successful adoption, it was critical to communicate that DreamBox Math is not one more thing, but the right thing to help students and teachers. It has been crucial to the program’s success.

Focus Area 2: Ongoing Data Review

Leverage data from multiple sources, analyze and share data, use data to inform decisions, and repeat.

As a data-driven organization, CUSD leaders must consistently assess where students are, what tools and approaches have a positive impact on student achievement, and what practices to replicate across the district. Dr. Brawley says, “We have an intense focus on continuous improvement and the cycle of inquiry. We are constantly looking at where we are and what it is that we need to do. We also benchmark ourselves against surrounding school districts to see how close we are in performance, who is leading the way and how much will it take for us to surpass them?”

To track growth and measure program efficacy at the sites, the district hosts bimonthly data chats. Site and district leaders leverage and analyze data from a plethora of sources, including state dashboards, internal benchmarks, diagnostic assessments, common assessments, and insights and reporting from DreamBox Math. The bimonthly chats have been valuable for educators to triangulate data from DreamBox Math with math scores in order to measure growth for students using the program for the recommended amount of time. DreamBox reports update immediately whenever students start lessons, thereby enabling up-to date, continual reporting throughout the year with insights about concepts students learn, progress they make, and productive struggles they might encounter. 

Through our ongoing data chats with stakeholders, we have cemented the usefulness of DreamBox Math as an important instructional tool to support both teachers and students in meeting grade-level standards in math.
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Dr. Darrin Brawley
Superintendent, CUSD

CUSD educators have also found data exploration valuable to drill into math achievement subgroups and explore which DreamBox Math strategies are most effective for serving students in Tiers II and III and how to provide continuous growth for students in Tier I.

As one example, during the 2021-22 school year, 8th grade Compton students completing the recommended five lessons per week (approximately one hour per week) demonstrated an average growth of 1.1 grade levels within DreamBox Math. This accelerated growth is in addition to any growth students demonstrated in their regular math classroom. For 8th graders who started the year below grade level, time spent in DreamBox Math often addressed unfinished learning from prior grades. 

The student progress overview report below is one example of how DreamBox Math provided differentiation so this student could understand integer addition and subtraction topics from 7th grade, fractions and decimals concepts from 6th grade, and key skills from 5th, 6th, and 7th grades related to expressions and equations. These are essential algebra readiness concepts that 8th grade teachers typically don’t have enough time, resources, or data to support every student. Fortunately, this student was still receiving grade-level instruction during math class, because DreamBox Math only requires one hour per week. Learning 8th-grade standards in math class was in addition to the 1.2 grade levels they grew within DreamBox Math. 

Last, the chats have also been useful for analyzing their DreamBox Math usage data and program growth against other schools. Together, they explored different approaches for improving teacher participation, new ways to celebrate student success, and areas to replicate in their schools.

Focus Area 3: Engagement

Motivate students and empower them to get excited about learning and take pride in their achievements.

To meet the desired learning goals, DreamBox Math recommends that students complete five math lessons every week (about one hour per week). CUSD aimed to meet these goals, but during bimonthly data reviews, educators noticed that there were pockets of high usage across certain schools and grades. There was room for improvement for the entire district, so the leadership team began to develop DreamBox Math challenges among schools, grades, classrooms, and students. They encouraged site administrators to engage teachers and students to log in to DreamBox Math and complete at least five lessons per week.

CUSD began to see patterns of top-performing schools and classrooms. The district office highlighted and recognized winners at the school, grade, class, and student level every week. Within months of issuing their first challenge, DreamBox Math usage had exploded for both students and teachers. The district created new challenges, including completing 10 lessons per week, completing lessons during school breaks, and completing 150,000 lessons in January 2022. Data showed that the cohort of students completing five or more lessons tripled from the previous year. 

The enthusiasm for DreamBox Math has resulted in far more than lesson completion. District data indicates that student progress in the number of math standards in which they are proficient. When staff walks through classrooms, they can hear students having academic conversations with teachers and peers about what they’ve learned in DreamBox Math.

Shawnte Clewis credits much of the success of DreamBox Math to the district’s efforts to celebrate students’ accomplishments. By celebrating student usage, fostering healthy competition, and motivating students to push themselves, in 2021-22, CUSD students in grades K – 8 completed nearly 1.5 million lessons. Those who completed five or more lessons per week gained an average of 20.74 California Common Core Content Standards.

Having students know that their work in DreamBox Math is being noticed and acknowledged brings self-confidence for our students, which helps them grow in all areas of learning.
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Shawnte Clewis
K-8 Math Administrator, CUSD

Measuring Program ROI

In addition to the marked progress students demonstrated while using DreamBox Math, the program also saved CUSD teachers countless hours by automatically differentiating instruction to meet students where they are. The return on investment for DreamBox Math can also be measured by determining the cost of intervention efforts had the program not been adopted, rather than intervention led by a CUSD teacher. An analysis of the district’s spending and performance data concluded that Compton Unified School District demonstrated three times the return on their DreamBox Math investment. Looking ahead, the district intends to continue employing DreamBox Math for all students and continue its engagement efforts. 

Quick Facts

School Details

  • 36 school serving 18,000 students
  • 99% minority population
  • 90% on-time graduation rate 
  • Partnered with Discovery Education since 2021


  • DreamBox Math

Classroom Application

  • Supplemental

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