Source: Forbes

As schools swing back into session, stories of mismanaged 1-to-1 computing initiatives in schools are filling the news—and unsurprisingly so in many cases, as I wrote back in 2011. But there are plenty of good “edtech” stories, too, worth highlighting.

In almost every case, the schools that are getting it right are focused on the problem they are trying to solve and designing an instructional model first. Then they add the technology to support that model, rather than leading with technology for technology’s sake or 1-to-1 computing—a big reason why my colleague Julia Freeland implored the field to strike 1-to-1 from the edu-dictionary.

There is also a narrative emerging in certain quarters that charters are getting blended learning right, but that school districts aren’t. At least some results from the last school year beg to differ, even as it’s important to note that none of these results were conducted in a rigorous randomized control trial.

Education Elements, a personalized-learning solution provider, works with district and charter schools. In the 2013-14 school year, across nine districts and over 5,000 students, the students in blended-learning classrooms outperformed those in the non-blended classrooms within the same schools and districts in terms of growth (a complete list of their results can be downloaded here).

myON logoOne of Education Elements’ district clients is the Enlarged City School District of Middletown in New York, which in 2012 won a U.S. Department of Education Race to the Top-District grant to personalize learning. Thirty-three teachers opted to implement a blended-learning program last school year. Utilizing i-Ready for both reading and math, alongside Dreambox Learning,Lexia LearningAchieve3000, and myON—depending on students’ specific needs—students in the blended-learning classrooms outperformed students in non-blended classrooms, as they gained 35% more in reading and 47% more in math on NWEA benchmark exams. Over 70% of students using i-Ready progressed through more than one grade level in one year in math, and over 50% of students progressed through more than one grade level in reading.

And all the teachers in the program said that they had more time to differentiate instruction and increase their effective instructional time and that students were more engaged.

At Whittemore Park Middle School in Horry County Schools, another district working with Education Elements, students who started 6th grade at a 3rd-grade reading level ended at a 5th-grade reading level—an astounding two years of growth.

Elsewhere, students participating in the Kansas Reading Initiative—a two-year pilot blended-learning program that provides Lexia Learning’s Lexia Reading Core5 at no cost to the participating schools so long as they meet and maintain minimum usage requirements, which cleverly insures some implementation fidelity—saw dramatic gains in the first year of the initiative with roughly 20% —or 225— of elementary schools in the state participating.

Of the 11,000 students using Lexia at recommended levels, the percentage meeting their grade level benchmark increased from 45% to 70%. Even more interesting, 2,091 students in the program were considered to be at-risk of not meeting grade level end-of-year benchmarks, but by the end of the school year, 99% of these struggling readers accelerated their reading skill acquisition by mastering more than one year of content, and 87% advanced two or more grade levels. Just 1% exhibited no gain.

Although blended learning is certainly not a magic bullet nor is it foolproof, these examples, which are growing in number, also show that used well, blended learning—and hence education technology—can help boost student achievement, in both charter and district school settings. It is of course important to learn more, so along with Evergreen Education, we at the Christensen Institute are now embarking upon a project to find more districts that are obtaining good results for students—concrete and objective—from blended learning. The opportunity is big; schools nationwide need to learn how to seize it, and we want to spotlight those who are and shed light on how they are doing it.

A kindergarten teacher shares her view of the real trendsetters in education. 

Source: EdTech Digest

lightspeed_logo_H_RGB_150Who would you say are the biggest trendsetters in education?

Are they superintendents of the largest, most innovative districts? How about the movers and shakers on social media? Or the policy makers in Washington, D.C.?

For me, it’s another group entirely: The five- and six-year-old students who grace my kindergarten classroom every morning.

I’m sure that may sound strange to some of you, so let me explain. When I think about trendsetters, I think of people who are inquisitive, eager to try new things and able to share their discoveries with others.

My students embody those qualities better than anybody else I know, especially when they’re introduced to new technology. I’ll tell you the story of how we implemented one technology in particular so you can see what I mean.

1) Inquisitive

Anyone who’s spent more than five minutes around a kindergartner knows this one should be fairly self-explanatory! They have an endless fountain of questions, and I love watching their minds work as they explore new technology in the classroom.

Last spring, we started using the Flexcat, a classroom audio system from Lightspeed Technologies. Basically, I wear a small microphone around my neck, and my voice carries through audio pods I place anywhere in the classroom. Since the system arrived so late in the school year, I was a little hesitant to see how my students would react to the change. So I set the pods out on the four small group tables in my classroom and waited.

As soon as my students entered the room, they were immediately captivated by the new technology, and I was hit with a barrage of questions.

What’s that thing around your neck? What does this blue light mean? What does this button do? Where is your voice coming from? Can you really hear us from all the way across the room?

I was so impressed with their ability to assess this new technology immediately and determine the most important questions about how it would affect them.

2) Eager to try new things 

You may have already guessed this from all the questions my students asked, but they embraced the technology right away, even its more advanced features!

For instance, by using the system’s “Call” button on their audio pod, my students can signal to me that they need my attention, and I’ll hear it in my headset. I wasn’t sure if they would understand that they really didn’t have to raise their hands or yell across the room for me any more.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. They instantly deemed it “super cool” that they wouldn’t have to raise their hands, and one little boy even reported to his parents, “It sounds like Mrs. Pullen is on a stage! We can hear her everywhere!”

If there’s ever a morning where I forget to turn on the system, my students are quick to remind me. In fact, any technology that I’ve introduced in the classroom, no matter how advanced, they have really taken to and used correctly.

3) Able to share their discoveries with others

In addition to being a kindergarten teacher, I’m also a district instructional technologist, so I help anybody in the district who needs help setting up new technology or learning to use it. But I’m starting to think about hiring one of the elementary school students as my assistant – sometimes they’re even better at explaining new technology than I am!

After we began using the that system last year, other teachers were understandably curious to see how it worked. One of my colleagues stopped by my classroom after the school day ended to check out the system, and a student took it upon himself to show her how it worked! He even designed his own “experiment” to test how far the audio signal would reach, bringing one of the pods farther and farther down the hallway.

Of course, my colleague was very impressed with the technology, but I was even more impressed with the student’s desire to explore and explain it to her.

~ ~ ~

Veteran teachers and administrators often resist new technology because they’ve always done things another way, or they’re afraid trying something new will be too messy.

It’s always a little funny to me because my kindergartners have no such hang-ups. They surprise me every day with how quick they are to adapt and learn new things.

So if you really want to meet the trendsetters in education, I invite you to stop by my classroom – you just might learn something.

Stephanie Pullen is a kindergarten teacher at Commerce Elementary School and a district instructional technologist for Commerce ISD in Commerce, Texas.

Education technology industry stalwart takes the wheel of leading education-publishing group

emediaThe eSchool Media publishing group (ESM) is proud to announce that Wendy LaDuke, ed-tech industry icon and former group publisher of 1105 Media’s T.H.E. Journal & Campus Technology, has signed on as their new Group Publisher. With more than 30 years in the education technology publishing market – and a father widely considered as the founder of the industry itself – LaDuke brings with her a profound love of, appreciation for and altruistic vision regarding the education technology arena. In her new role she will serve as Group Publisher for all 3 publications from ESM: eSchool News, eClassroom News and eCampus News, their higher ed magazine.

Edward Warnshuis, her father, began his career in the education industry with a clear vision – and LaDuke has furthered, and will continue to further, his passion of technology’s integral role in today’s classrooms.

After a widely successful and prominent tenure at T.H.E. Journal and Campus Technology (competing education technology publications), LaDuke joins the eSchool Media team with a deep understanding of how education has been transformed by technology and a determination to not only continue her father’s vision to foster innovation, but further establish and pursue her own belief that technology and innovation are two integral pieces of the education puzzle.

“One of the greatest things I learned from my father was to pursue your vision with conviction and to persevere against adversity to make that vision a reality,” says LaDuke. “Education is about making a difference in the lives of kids, setting them up for a lifetime of success, and it is a privilege to play a role in that process. Throughout my career as a publisher, educators have always been my focus. Leveraging my role to ensure that they have access to resources that will allow them to improve their practice is truly an honor.  I am thrilled to join such a talented and well-respected organization like eSchool Media. This opportunity will allow me to build on the reputation they have established and I am truly blessed to have the chance to further my father’s vision and to keep his ed-tech legacy alive.”

“All of us at ESM are excited to have Wendy in the driver’s seat,” said Rob Morrow, CEO at eSchool Media.  “Her knowledge of the industry, strong relationships, vision and dedication to the space will be invaluable to our suite of publications and websites. She brings the experience, passion and dedication to education technology, which our readers want, and our clients expect. Wendy knows how to ‘connect-the-dots’ in a way that allows our clients, readers and writers to make a positive impact in education. This is just the beginning of an outstanding new chapter for eSchool Media.”

Wendy LaDuke was a 2013 Folio100 award honoree in the category of “Under the Radar” agent of change, which is a testament to her equally avid admiration for, and vision of, the publishing industry.

Look for Wendy LaDuke at this year’s EdNET Conference September 28-30 in Baltimore, MD.

Visit the websites of eSchool News, eCampus News and eClassroom News to learn more about eSchool Media’s family of publications.

About eSchool Media:

With a combined, unduplicated audience of more than one million education decision makers, eSchool Media Inc. is the parent organization of three robust print, digital, and eMail networks providing breaking news and vital information to brand-specifying buyers at every level of the education field:

  • eSchool News (K-12)
    With approximately 945,000 visitors and readers—is found in print and on the internet at http://www.eSchoolNews.com
  • eCampus News (Higher Ed)
    With approximately 94,000 visitors and readers—is found in print and on the internet at http://www.eCampusNews.com
  • eClassroom News (Teachers)
    With approximately 52,000 visitors and readers—is found on the internet at http://www.eClassroomNews.com

 

The eSchool Media family of networks serves ed-tech decision makers throughout the world, primarily in Canada and the United States. Our audience includes executive educators (from principals and every U.S. superintendent) at the building- and district-level in elementary and secondary schools; administrators (from chancellors, presidents, and deans to provosts, vice-presidents, and department directors) in two- and four-year colleges, public and private universities, and state university systems; as well as instructors, teachers, and professors of all subjects at every grade level. eSchool Media strives to provide the best news, information, and resources to help K-20 decision makers discover, evaluate, and procure technology to transform education and achieve educational goals.

Source: EdTech Digest

Predictive analytics in teacher hiring.

TeacherMatchLogo_4colorWith hundreds of resumes for a handful of teaching positions, school district hiring managers face an immense challenge. Getting the right teacher in students’ classrooms for the first day of school is the most important job of school and district leadership. Yet teacher selection processes in schools consistently use informal or personal preferences to screen and identify the top teachers who will generate massive student learning. Objective assessments of the factors that predict teacher performance may improve the quality of teaching and reduce the burden for hiring managers.

“Education and improving student achievement is a much more complicated mission than using predictive analytics to hire call-center employees at Xerox or fill positions at Google.”

When many of us think of predictive analytics, we visualize data and graphs that sum up past metrics to gain insight on how an organization should perform in the future. However, predictive analytics has advanced and is much more than a generic pattern of data. It is being used to solve complicated problems, make decisions and identify opportunities. One major opportunity is the use of predictive analytics in the hiring process.

Within the hiring process, predictive analytics help identify top talent by connecting candidate data to a set of key measurable factors. As a result, organizations are able to process and manage candidates coming through the job-posting pipeline, select candidates that are a best fit, and hire individuals that will lead their organization to success. According to a Wall Street Journal article, “For more and more companies, the hiring boss is an algorithm.”

Who is using predictive analytics in hiring?

Top organizations are increasingly using data to improve hiring practices. Xerox Corporation had previously relied on candidate experience, only hiring applicants who had done the job before. Yet data showed that new hires quit Xerox before the company recovered its $5,000 investment per employee in call-center training. The company’s hiring managers realized their hiring techniques were based on untested assumptions, therefore, Xerox invested in predictive analytics to evaluate characteristics and skillsets of top, call-center employees. Today, Xerox uses talent data to hire candidates in all of its 48,000 call-center jobs.

Google also eliminated components of its hiring process based on data. The brainteaser component of the interview process had little correlation with success of the overall organization. So they removed it. Google’s interview methods have become much more data-driven and the company uses hiring tools to help identify candidates that have the ‘Googliness’ they’re looking for as well as drive business growth. Additionally, candidate data helps them hire talented individuals faster – an important factor since speed is essential for Google when hiring recent graduates. 

How does data-driven hiring relate to education?

The use of predictive analytics by corporate giants, such as Xerox and Google, has clear corollaries to education. Like Xerox, the traditional hiring process for teacher positions uses a candidate’s work history, credentials and in-person interview. However, education and improving student achievement is a much more complicated mission than using predictive analytics to hire call-center employees at Xerox or fill positions at Google. Therefore, while some high performing districts require demonstration lessons, teacher impact on student achievement cannot be directly measured during the traditional hiring process. So school districts have begun to identify indicators that are predictive of teacher performance for use in the hiring process.

TeacherMatch EPI (Educators Professional Inventory) is an instrument designed exactly for the purpose of informing hiring. Districts using it trust the EPI to predict the impact teacher candidates will have on student achievement through four core success indicators: teaching skills, cognitive ability, attitudinal factors, and qualifications.

Within the EPI, teaching skills analyze success planning attributes, ability to create a learning environment, and a candidate’s analyzing and adjusting characteristics. Cognitive ability addresses candidate’s awareness and perception by evaluating analytical reasoning and problem solving skills. Attitudinal factors looks at teacher candidate’s motivation to succeed and maintain a positive attitude, and lastly, qualifications considers candidates’ education background and professional fieldwork.

Consequently, school districts adopting predictive analytics, such as TeacherMatch EPI, are improving student achievement by identifying teachers that are the strongest candidates from day one.

Who is behind the research?

TeacherMatch EPI came from years of internal research as well as professionals that have deep experience and understanding of the industry. It was developed alongside the Northwest Evaluation Association’s research specialists and psychometricians, and researchers from The University of Chicago and the Value-Added Research Center of University of Wisconsin-Madison. Using real teachers and value-added model scores, a TeacherMatch validation study found that the EPI predicted student learning. Teachers with higher scores on the EPI were also teachers whose students learned more (controlling for demographics and initial proficiency).

Hiring any individual in any organization is an important decision, especially in the education environment. Therefore, as school districts integrate predictive analytics into their hiring processes, the validity of the analytics are critical. This particular solution has been validated and one prediction is clear: school districts’ will have the necessary data to identify a quality teacher that will improve student achievement.

Sources:

Halzack, Sarah (2013, September 4). An inside look at Google’s data-driven job interview process. The Washington Post.

RAND’s Center for the Study of the Teaching Profession. (1987). Effective Teacher Selection From Recruitment to Retention. Santa Monica, California: Wise, Arthur E., Darling-Hammond, Linda, Berry, Barnett, Berliner, David, Haller, Emil, Praskac, Amy, & Schlechty, Phillip

Walker, Joseph (2012, September 20). Meet the New Boss: Big Data. The Wall Street Journal.

Donald J. Fraynd, Ph.D., is CEO of TeacherMatch, a data-driven, people-powered formula for success for K-12 education talent management. As a principal in Chicago Public Schools, his school was rated in the top 100 by US News & World Report and was the first Blue Ribbon School ever for a CPS high school. He is part of a team that spearheaded the design and implementation of a comprehensive hiring and professional development plan involving thousands of teachers and used by the US Department of Education to shape their multi-billion dollar school improvement program. Contact him through TeacherMatch.

 

Source: K-12 Tech Decisions

With the rise of BYOD and 1:1 computing, schools are now processing a surge of data everyday. Here are some ways to protect that info and maintain privacy.

By Ralph Armijo, CEO Aegis Identity Software, Inc.

Aegis_logo final

A decade ago, K-12 data security meant storing information on an SIS in a school district’s computer department with tapes to back up crucial files. The pressing need for data security was securing it from loss, either mechanical or by natural disaster.

How times have changed.

With the advent of the iPad and other mobile devices—and a rapid rise in 1:1, BYOD, educational apps and technological advances in general—K12 institutions process a surge of data every day. Today, edtech is interactive with a flow of personal identifiable information (P.I.I.), requiring data to be stored securely and efficiently to help in performance assessment and personalized learning.

All of this P.I.I.—student transcripts, health records, electronic test scores, staff records, planning documents, digital curricula, academic progress reports—are all part of the data tsunami that has hit K-12 districts with full force.

This storm of information raises the question of how best to handle and store that data. Like banks, corporations and universities before them, school districts have leapt on to the cloud-computing bandwagon, with nearly all K-12 institutions in the U.S. using some form of this technology to store their data.

In fact, the cloud is fast becoming indispensable in the K-12 realm for its potential to save districts time, money and manpower. The use of cloud-based technologies in K-12 schools is also becoming increasingly complex and expansive, with low-cost data storage sites and hosting companies driving the administration cost of those services down even further.

District administrators—principals, superintendents, etc.—and especially K12 CIO/CTOs certainly realize these risks and are no doubt reminded by concerned parents wanting to protect their children when they learn that their child’s data is in someone else’s hand.

Cloud-based solutions are still suspect in many people’s minds, even educators who have been dealing with it for a few years now. Storing data in the cloud isn’t wrong; it’s the right, economically sound thing for districts to do moving forward. It’s how you’re storing it, how you’re protecting students’ information, who is allowed to access it, and how you’re backing it up that’s the key to the cloud computing puzzle.

That’s why information security has to go beyond basic login credentials (authentication or “you are who you say you are”) to a more granular, situation-based authentication (“this is what you are allowed to see and do right now”). And data needing protection must go beyond the student information system.

Most CTOs already have a plan to ensure that data is backed up properly and stored to avoid risk of loss. Now, Cloud backup and DR solutions are a good option to extend and often improve this plan. What many technology leaders are now struggling with, is providing the privacy and information security demanded by the times: internet accessible and cloud based applications that store district data. This sensitive information must be secured in the Cloud while still providing accessibility for active needs and applications. Furthermore, technology leaders have to manage security of data that is stored in applications that are not under the control of the district, but instead protected by some “agreement.”

CTOs have to take strategic steps to ensure that this accessible data is secured as effectively as their backup plans protect them from data loss.

• Assess the risk. With the advent of all these new technologies we put a lot of power in the hands of the students with iPads and mobile devices. Combine that with the concern for personal information and the desire to use that personal information for the good of the student. So now we have to assess risk: What is the risk of storing and sharing personal information against the benefit of having that information shared?

• Implement an information security infrastructure. Identity and access management infrastructure maintains access control, audits who has access and when, and removes access immediately as the authorized community changes.

• Utilize federation technology. By adding federation to apps that also need to store sensitive data, agreements on the care and keeping of that data allow districts to maintain control and parents to provide consent.

• Make information security part of all data storage agreements. Each application or Cloud agreement should take into consideration the access control requirements and agreements to use and store district data. What the application provider can do with the data is paramount and should be specifically addressed. Furthermore, these agreements should be specific about the minimum level of data required for the application to perform the function desired by the district and agree that is the limit of the data that will be stored and used. Furthermore, the length of time the data will be stored should also be clearly agreed to and that length of time should be limited to the needs of the district.

• Balance encryption with performance requirements. Encrypted data can prevent unauthorized users from gaining access and minimize exposure of students’ P.I.I. However, encryption limits some technology and slows processing. Perform an extensive study of what can be encrypted and count on your information security measures (identity and access management) to protect the rest.

• Store data in a secure cloud. Many districts are constructing private clouds to store their data and handle backup and disaster recovery. Public school cloud consortia also are an economic and secure option. BOCES that can offer private cloud and collaboratives, such as IlliniCloud, are an outstanding resource. By linking these consortia via a K-12 Federation, the benefits are multiplied. The K-12 Federation then has the bargaining power to affect and attract vendors on its terms and can assist with information and negotiate security policies.

• Educate students & parents. The first place to start protecting student P.I.I. is making students cognizant of the exposure points created either on a shared device, their own and the multiple applications and sites they’re on so they’re not inadvertently exposing their information or giving their access information to anyone except those who need to know.

In the end, back up is all about the value of your data and the cost to replace it. Security is about protecting your data from misuse. Both are equally important.  It’s not possible to grant people guarantees that nothing will happen to the data or that a data breach can be avoided, no matter how securely you store it and back it up. But with responsible practices to back up and protect data and sensitive information, including P.I.I., CTOs can rest a bit easier, even if that data is in the cloud.

Learn More about Aegis Identity Software, Inc.

Aegis Identity is the provider of TridentK12, an identity management solution for K-12 education. It provides provisioning,password management and identity synchronization. Trident K-12 is designed to be an affordable, open standards-based identity solution that provides out-of-the-box integration for K-12 education environments.

Click on the logo to check out Aegis Identity’s K-12 webinar series

Click here to connect with Aegis Identity

New York Times contributor and former Scholastic editor joins Minneapolis firm

prpsmalllogoPR with Panache! (PRP), an award-winning, Minnesota-based PR firm focused on the education marketplace, is proud to welcome Lucille Renwick as the firm’s newest modern-day storyteller.

Renwick has spent more than two decades in the education industry as a reporter, writer and editor. Her work has appeared in numerous education and mainstream publications including District Administration, The New York Times, and The Nation.

“Lucille is an enormously accomplished, acclaimed journalist who brings a tremendous depth of experience in education to our firm. We are thrilled to have someone of her caliber join our team,” said Sue Hanson, PRP’s founder and principal. “Her distinguished journalism career makes her a valuable addition to the ever-expanding PR with Panache! agency. Her experience, knowledge, and indisputable communications skills bring great value to the PR with Panache! global clientele.”

For most of Renwick’s career, she has written about and advocated for education and K-16 nonprofits. She first covered education as a journalist for the Hartford (Conn.) Courant and the L.A. Times, and then as an editor for Scholastic’s Instructor and Administr@tor magazines as well as one of Discovery Education’s magazines.

She later worked as a PR professional focused on helping public, charter and private schools and education nonprofits tell their stories and spread the word about their good work.

“I’m excited to join the talented storytelling team at PR with Panache! and am eager to add to their stellar reputation for creating vital, engaging opportunities for clients within the education marketplace,” said Renwick. “I look forward to working with such a highly respected and trusted PR agency in education.”

To learn more about PR with Panache! and how they might tell your story, visit www.prwithpanache.com.

For more information about Lucille Renwick, visit our storyteller’s page.

prpsmalllogoWill you be attending the 2014 EdNET “Set Your Vision in Motion” Conference in Baltimore September 28-30? PR with Panache! will be there and we would love to meet you!

This EdNET has some very exciting sponsors and PR with Panache! is proud to be one of them!  We would like to invite you to attend our roundtable discussion, “Does Your Communication Strategy Make You Uncomfortable? Very Uncomfortable,” co-presented by Steve Rowley of Accumen Partners.

Please feel free to contact Sue, sue@prwithpanache.com, or Jacob, jacob@prwithpanache.com, for more information or to set up some time to chat!

We look forward to seeing you in Baltimore in a few short weeks!

download (1)More about the EdNet Insight Conference:

EdNET Insight Conference, the industry’s premier networking event, gives you unparalleled opportunities to exchange ideas and discuss market trends with industry stakeholders while forging new business relationships through productive networking.

Don’t miss your opportunity to learn about the challenges teachers face in the rapidly changing education landscape and build your list of industry contacts and potential partners to help grow your business!

For more information about the conference, conference schedule and how to attend, visit them online at EdnetConference.com or register to attend by clicking here!

Source: Smartblog on Education

digital-literacy-150x150It is more important than ever that educational leaders work with and fully support their teachers. Every teacher wants to improve their practice and be the best they can be for their students. We have the luxury of deciding how we accomplish that, so why wouldn’t we use the technology at our fingertips to drive instruction? To build confidence in our teachers AND our students?

Over the past few years, I have seen the power of next generation/online student assessment platforms and of putting student data to work to invigorate teachers, increase student interest and engagement and provide myriad opportunities for collaboration among staff.

Making the decision to move student assessment online was an easy decision for me; it was the implementation that gave me pause. Before diving in to the deep end with next generation student assessment, I knew I had to dip my toes in the shallow end, asking myself questions along the way to keep my head above water.

naikuwebWhere do we start? I chose to start with just five teachers, who quickly became my “power users.” Before discussing solutions, we looked at the importance of collecting data, and putting that data to work. If your teachers do not see the value in data itself, you will never get to the deep end. Once I felt my core teachers had that understanding, we began searching for answers.

What did we want out of an online assessment platform? We all have the same hours in a school day, so what could we use that would free up my teachers to be working with students more? Something that even the most reluctant teachers would use.

How can I help my staff go from dipping toes to diving in? Here’s where my power users came in to play. Even the most reluctant teachers will grab onto a new tool when they see it making such a positive impact in their colleagues’ classrooms.

Once you feel that you have provided the proper ramp up and support, insist that all of your teachers, even the ones with arms crossed and shaking heads, give it a go. That said, allow them to use it how they see fit. Give them carte blanche to work the tool into their practice, and support them along the way. Give them attainable goals, such as “Develop X number of assessments” or “Use it for X amount of time.” By giving your staff the freedom to use the assessment tool how they would like and providing them with support, they will be much more likely to embrace the tool as a partner in their teaching.

How can we use this data to drive collaboration, PLCs and PD and foster positive school culture? At Clear Lake Middle School, we have weekly Authentic Intellectual Work — AIW — discussions, which are made up of three parts — “construction of knowledge, through disciplined inquiry, to produce discourse, products and performances that have value beyond school.” A mouthful, right? Not in the deep end it isn’t!

In our school’s AIW groups, we encourage teachers to “bring the sucky stuff.” So when a teacher designs an assessment that doesn’t give them their desired results, the group reflects on the assessment in an open, nonjudgmental way. This helps the teacher make improvements for future assessments, and it allows our entire team to build trust and learn from each other.

Whether your teachers are trained in data teams, professional learning communities or AIW groups, the key is to have teachers trained in some sort of data analysis protocol. No matter which assessment tool you choose, you will have a much higher level of implementation if your teachers believe the data analysis process has benefited them and their students. Trust me!

How do we ensure that when we dive in, the end result is higher student engagement? We want our middle-schoolers to take ownership and pride in their education. So we made the choice to allow our students to have access to our assessment platform. All students thrive when they feel they are being successful, and showing them how much they are growing can really empower students. I cannot tell you the level of joy and sense of accomplishment this has brought to them and to my staff.

I’d like to talk about one student in particular — one that would be best described as “less than thrilled with school,” to say the least. Once she began to see how each individual assignment is part of the bigger picture, she started to make progress.

At first, it was slow and filled with setbacks. However, this year her attitude has changed, and she has made a complete 180 from her old self! She is one of the most improved students I have seen in my career in education. As she’s been able to watch her growth through seventh grade and tap into her learning style with our project-based learning setting, she has become a student in control of her own education.

There are three things that I’ve noticed since we’ve gone to online assessment: First, the teachers are better equipped to make a stronger impact much quicker than before. Second, my students are more engaged in their learning. Finally, parents who use our student information system on a consistent basis can easily track their child’s progress online and initiate contact with teachers as needed. This helps greatly in closing the “excuse gap” when parents before had minimal insight into their child’s academic progress.

Of course, even with all of these improvements, this is still a constant work in progress. Whether your teachers are well versed in data analysis or just starting out, your choice of online assessment tools can make or break ’em. Choose wisely!

Good luck and have fun in the deep end!

Written by Steve Kwikkel, Kwikkel is the principal of Clear Lake Middle School in Clear Lake, Iowa. He earned his undergraduate degree in elementary education from the University of North Dakota. His school uses Naiku, an online assessment platform, to accomplish the goals described in this post. Follow him on Twitter at @SKwikkel.

Standards planning features, added at the request of ISD 196 and other school districts, enhance the ability for teachers to measure, monitor and track student proficiency

naikuwebNaiku, provider of award-winning, next-generation classroom assessment software, announced today the addition of curriculum mapping capability to help teachers plan for and track proficiency of learning standards.

Naiku‘s cloud-based software is used by schools and districts to quickly measure and track each student’s proficiency of standards in any subject and grade, and is used by individual teachers as well as by groups of teachers with common assessments. Using metacognitive tools of confidence, justification/journaling and reflection, Naiku uniquely provides teachers with a ready means of enabling teacher-student interactive feedback as part of everyday assessment to help drive student achievement.

With the addition of curriculum mapping, teachers can now use Naiku to comprehensively plan for the standards they expect to have their students learn, as well as measure, monitor, and track performance against these standards throughout the term so they can inform and personalize their instruction to ensure all students reach their potential.

“We’re excited to use the curriculum mapping functionality with Naiku this year” said Paul Olson, Secondary Math/STEM Lead Teacher for ISD 196 (Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan Public Schools).  “We think it will be a nice addition to Naiku and will help our teachers better plan and be more successful in helping their students achieve proficiency in our learning targets.”

Naiku developed the curriculum mapping functionality at the request of ISD 196 and other customers.  Greg Wright, CEO of Naiku, stated “ISD 196 adopted Naiku last school year, principally to enable common formative assessments to aid their PLCs and help teachers with standards-based teaching and learning.  We are proud to announce these new features and support the efforts of ISD 196 and other educators in advancing teaching and learning through better assessment.”

For more information about Naiku visit www.naiku.net.

Source: THE Journal 

naikuwebNaiku is adding adaptive learning resources to its cloud-based classroom assessment platform, which teachers can set to send students different resources based on their individual learning.

The software is commonly used to measure and track students’ proficiency of standards in any subject area through a variety of meta-cognitive tools, such as justification/journaling and reflection to help teachers gauge understanding and progress. It is also used by teachers and PLCs , and across districts with common assessments.

A key part of the upgrade is the ability for teachers to share and remix items from their assessments with each other, as well as create new assessments from the company’s test question bank or via a test generator.  Questions can also be aligned to specific learning targets. Since it is a cloud-based platform, scoring and results reporting are completed automatically.

Teachers can also have instructional resources sent to each student — these resources may vary based on students’ individual proficiency, as determined by the software and other factors specified by the teacher.

All these changes are designed to allow teachers to adapt their instructional resources toward more personalized approaches, and to align them with new learning standards, like Common Core or the Next Generation science standards.