The simple LMS move that has made our teachers more effective

By Gary Brantley
July 12th, 2016


Migrating to a single platform for assessment, data analysis, and instruction has simplified most everything for one district

Teachers today are responsible for so many things.

They have to plan instruction for all of their classes. They have to tie this instruction to rigorous state and national standards. They have to assess their students’ understanding on an ongoing basis, look at what the data say, and adjust their teaching based on the results. They have to differentiate instruction for every child. They have to foster deeper understanding among their students, addressing not only core content standards but also key 21st century skills such as communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and problem solving.

Teachers can’t do all of that if they’re constantly logging out of one software system and into another. It’s far too much for them to manage.

That’s why we at DeKalb County School District—Georgia’s third largest school system, with about 103,000 students and 14,000 employees in grades K-12—set out to find a single system that could tie together assessment, data management, and instruction. We wanted our teachers to be able to manage the entire learning cycle through one easy-to-use platform with a single sign-on.

We suspected that having a single platform unifying instruction and assessment would make our teachers more productive—and more likely to use data to drive their instruction. We’ve found that to be true, while realizing a number of other key benefits as well.

A single platform

Our search process began in early 2015. We wanted representation from a wide range of stakeholder groups, especially those who would be using the system in their classrooms every day. So, we convened an evaluation team that consisted of about 70 teachers, curriculum specialists, principals, and assistant principals, along with another 15 technical personnel.

We invited the companies that Gartner had identified as the top seven providers of learning management system (LMS) software to visit us and tell us about their products, and we set up a “sandbox” environment in which teachers and others could evaluate these systems.

Our evaluation process lasted several weeks. In the end, we chose itslearning as our new learning management platform. Not only did we like the system’s functionality, but we also liked how well it integrated with all of our other software programs, such as Infinite Campus, our student information system, and TrueNorthLogic (Performance Matters), our professional development and talent management system.

With this LMS platform, teachers can create, share, and assign lessons to their students; build and deliver a variety of assessments and checks for understanding; track and analyze student progress toward learning goals; and extend their students’ learning beyond the school day with rich discussions and activities—all from a single interface.

Next page: Simplifying assessment and blended learning