iAssessment’s architecture allowed Utah State Office of Education to develop a web portal to position all the teacher development, grant management, and individual assessment resources in a single, customizable system.

Balancing state and local needs

The Utah State Office of Education (USOE) serves the 486,938 K-12 public school students throughout the state of Utah while supporting their 22,640 teachers and administrators. It serves its 40 school districts and another 26 charter schools by developing the state core curriculum, licensing educators, and assisting with professional development.

Like many states, USOE was looking for a decision-support system as part of a statewide data model that could simultaneously support individual district needs. They were looking for a program that could not only satisfy NCLB requirements, but a system that could foster the effective use of statewide data to improve assessment, resource utilization, and classroom instruction. At the same time, Utah districts demanded the flexibility and autonomy to meet state requirements in a way that best met their individual and specific needs. Without such a system, administrators on both the local district and state levels were carrying heavy workloads which negatively impacted the support they could offer their teachers.

iAssessment builds the foundation for success

iAssessment was contracted to deploy a decision support architecture utilizing its True North Logic (TNL) Solution Suites. The customized statewide system is called “On Track.” TNL allows administrators to effectively manage inherent challenges such as access control, distribution, integration, personalization, and scalability. It also allowed USOE to connect various disparate databases and systems, and provides a centralized management system to unify and integrate On Track with existing state-owned databases and computer systems. As a result, Utah now has a centralized, web-based, up-to-date database of teacher training programs and resources that can be accessed anywhere in the state.

Next, iAssessment created a single-sign-on point of entry. Administrators have controlled access to a variety of third-party systems, including content providers, database systems, infrastructure management, curriculum, bridges to business and financial systems, etc. Additionally, TNL delivers a variety of unique tools, including a first-of-its kind project and task management tool specifically designed to drive compliance by tracking and notifying users of K-12 programs, grants, and other project implementations.

To make this integration more effective, the system uses a simple yet powerful profiling logic that directs the right data, tools, systems, and resources to the right people. For example, a vice principal will have a different set of access rights and privileges within the system than a first-year teacher, and a science teacher will want to access and utilize the resources on the system differently than an English teacher, helping each to be successful in and out of the classroom. The combination of these features allows USOE to deliver the appropriate tools, resources, and systems into the right hands, thus saving time and effort while improving the results and effectiveness of their programs.

Individual assessments to drive improvement

How TNL improves results is best exemplified in the way data are now collected and used to improve assessment, instruction, and resource utilization. iAssessment’s True Achieve, the Professional Development Management component of TNL, lets state and district administrators provide any number of non-proprietary, confidential teacher/administrator assessments in a variety of subject areas.

Assessments are taken beyond their ordinary boundaries by matching specific training programs and resources to individual teachers based on assessment and profiling data. As such, the appropriate tools, resources, and training opportunities are immediately “hand-delivered” to teachers using this automated data-driven decision process. The results are immediate. Each teacher receives individualized professional development and learning plans tailored to his or her needs and circumstances. This kind of individual attention simply was not possible in the past, owing to limitations with technology and ever-shrinking budgets.

Effective partnerships between district and state

TNL allows the state and individual districts to integrate currently-used programs and systems into On Track, which saves time and money because individuals don’t need to be retrained on new programs they don’t want or need.

With True Point, the System Unification component of the TNL Solution Suites, district administrators can customize the portal web site, providing a unique look and feel for each school district, each school, and each teacher. Furthermore, administrators can manage what users may access. For instance, kindergarten teachers see information relevant to their grade, 5th-grade math teachers see information relevant to their subject matter, administrators see the reports they need, and parents can view information about their child.

Utah’s Granite School District has used On Track as a springboard to create a customized and more detailed program to meet its own unique needs. This customized portal is called the Professional Learning Alignment Navigator (PLAN). iAssessment’s architecture allows Granite to maintain local control while giving the state the capacity to distribute important, time-sensitive services and support. Granite has the ability to use everything available with On Track and–at the same time–offer its own assessments, track its own grants, streamline its own processes, and integrate its district system with the content vendors and database systems its administrators want to include.

Like many states, Utah has experienced a tightening of the budgetary belt. The initial start-up and customization of On Track cost less than the annual salary of just one computer administrator. But the value to those who benefit from the system cannot be underestimated. iAssessment has provided a robust and solid portal to support USOE and facilitate a successful experience for each teacher, each administrator, and each student today and into the future.