DULUTH, GA–Feb 01, 2007–When a school district undertakes new initiatives, administrators begin the tricky process of selecting the right combination of programs to address their needs. Navigating through all of the options is difficult due to all the boasts and claims made about competing products.
If a district is having success with a certain initiative, then the answer is easy: expand the use of the current program. If the district is starting from scratch, however, administrators know that choosing the wrong product will not only cost the district a large sum of money but also handicap their students´ potential academic achievement. Savvy school officials, therefore, are looking past the glossy advertisements in industry magazines and going to their peers and impartial third parties for advice.
This is especially important, as federal funding guidelines under No Child Left Behind mandates the use of research-based programs that offer evidence of effectiveness and proven success. District officials must take these critical components of increased accountability into consideration when deciding on computer-assisted instruction.
"When looking for an intervention program, I find that superintendents and curriculum experts from neighboring districts offer the best advice," said Paulette Tompkins, principal at King´s Chapel Elementary School in Houston County, Ga. "They give honest critiques of the various programs they use so I don´t have to cut through all the marketing noise before making a choice. Also, watching students´ reactions to the activities gives us an idea of how the programs work in the real world."
One product getting shining reviews is Classworks, published by Curriculum Advantage, Inc. (www.curriculumadvantage.com), a computer-assisted instruction program that offers intervention and remediation.
Classworks was recently cited as one of a handful of education software products to back up its claims of student success in a study conducted at Johns Hopkins University. The study–titled Effective Programs in Elementary Mathematics: A Best Evidence Synthesis–set out to show what mathematics programs have been proven to help elementary students to succeed. Classworks rated the highest in the "computer-assisted instruction" portion of the study, outperforming all of its direct competitors.
Still, Classworks´ best advertising comes from its customers, who sing its praises.
"School officials cannot afford to make a mistake when it comes to deciding on instructional solutions," said Lindsey Cook, president and CEO of Curriculum Advantage. "We believe that Classworks´ track record of showing improved student achievement is a much better indicator of our worth than some advertising campaign. Our customers are our best spokespeople."
December´s new implementation of Classworks across the country reflects this trend.
Manteca Unified School District in California–a long-time user of Classworks–expanded its implementation of the program to an additional 13 schools, bringing the district´s total investment with Classworks to more than $1 million. "My teachers like the fact that Classworks lines up to the skills and state standards they are teaching in their classrooms, and that it individualizes itself to each student," said Susan Sanders, principal at Manteca´s French Camp School. "Student engagement with Classworks is high. They are absolutely 100-percent engaged. Everyone is excited about it."
Other districts to recently expand their use of Classworks include Murray City School District in Utah and Chattooga, Hart and Upson county school districts in Georgia. Hart County, which began by implementing Classworks´ Math curriculum for the 2005-06 school year, was so pleased with its success that it added the Language Arts component this year.
Classworks´ success in some districts is convincing other districts to choose Classworks, as well. Administrators from Hoke County (N.C.) School District visited a nearby district that uses Classworks. Based on what they saw at Cumberland County School District, Hoke County officials are now implementing Classworks district wide. Ware County (Ga.) School District chose to implement Classworks at five schools–two elementary schools, two middle schools and a high school–after seeing how well Classworks works at other Georgia districts.
Curriculum Advantage is small compared to other education technology companies, and relies on Classworks´ success in the schools to show potential customers the value and benefits of its flagship product, rather than spending time or money on advertising.
Classworks won the 2006 Software & Information Industry Association CODiE award for Best Newcomer in the education field and as the Best Language Arts Instruction Solution. This year, Classworks is a finalist for two more CODiE Awards: Best K-12 Instruction Solution and Best Mathematics Instruction Solution. Those honors will be awarded in April.
About Curriculum Advantage
Curriculum Advantage, Inc. (www.curriculumadvantage.com) is based in Duluth, Ga. Curriculum Advantage´s flagship product is Classworks, a network-based system of K-12 reading and mathematics curriculum and learning tools that currently comprise over 5,000 hours of curriculum. Classworks activities are correlated to national and state learning standards and state tests. They include prescriptive and summative assessment, remediation and reporting tools. Classworks is installed in 3,000 schools in the United States and worldwide. INET Classroom, also from Curriculum Advantage, is a comprehensive library of web-based curriculum linked to state and national standards.