What teachers want in a data dashboard

The data dashboard has become more sophisticated, but it is still only one lens through which educators should view their students

When Amber Teamann was a teacher in Garland, Texas, seven years ago, her use of data to help guide her instruction was fairly limited.

“Based on the programs I was using, I could evaluate how to differentiate instruction for my students,” she said. But tracking how well her students were meeting specific grade-level standards at any moment during the year wasn’t an option for her at that time, nor was looking at larger trends until after the school year had ended.

Data “was something you would use as an autopsy when everything was over,” she said.…Read More

When will assessments finally test deeper learning?

Technology means assessments can focus on more than just multiple-choice. Can testing keep up?

 

When we imagine the future of assessment it’s easy to envision all sorts of impressive ways to help gauge what students know and what they can do. Gaming and simulations, especially, create all kinds of possibilities.

But the major focus of assessment technology in recent years, of course, has been on efficiency of test delivery and administration—with little true innovation making it to students’ test booklets or computer screens.…Read More

Common Core is changing how schools teach ELA and math

New report finds Common Core is affecting reading and math — but not test scores

States considered strong adopters of Common Core are more likely to see a de-emphasis of fiction and a decline in advanced math enrollment among middle school students, according to a new report that also found a trivial difference in test scores between states that have and have not adopted the standards.

The report, from the Brown Center on Education Policy at Brookings, pulls data from surveys conducted by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) to see how far Common Core recommendations have seeped into states’ instruction, comparing data from 2011 to 2015. The question of whether students should focus on analyzing fiction, which has been traditionally favored by schools, or nonfiction, which is favored by the CCSS, was considered a major implementation hurdle just a few years ago.

On that point, it appears Common Core’s suggestions are winning out over entrenched practice. In 2011, according to the data, 63 percent of students had teachers who said they emphasized fiction, compared with 38 percent of students with teachers who said they were emphasizing nonfiction — a 25 percent gap. By 2015, however, that gap had shrunk to just eight percent, with 45 percent of students who have teachers emphasizing nonfiction. The gap shrunk for eighth grade students from 34 percent in 2011 to 16 percent in 2015.…Read More

School Specialty unveils intervention program for low-level readers

Interactive intervention tool aims to engage learners in a digital classroom

According to the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress — the Nation’s Report Card — only about 35 percent of U.S. fourth and eighth graders perform at the “proficient” level in reading.

To help schools close the achievement gap with students performing significantly below grade level, EPS Literacy and Intervention, a division of School Specialty, announced the debut of iSPIRE, an interactive reading intervention program incorporates phonemic awareness, phonics, spelling, vocabulary, comprehension and fluency to accelerate literacy skill development for the lowest performing students in grades PreK-8.

iSPIRE is powered by Exploros, a streamlined online teaching platform designed to connect teachers to students in a digitally transformed classroom with the teacher at the center of mastery based instruction.…Read More

LEGO’s WeDo 2.0 teaches science, coding

New wireless, tablet-ready robot-based learning system for elementary science curriculum teaches science and coding in a hands-on way

At the International Consumer Electronics Show, LEGO Education launched LEGO Education WeDo 2.0, a hands-on science solution designed for elementary classrooms using a robot-based learning system.

The solution combines the LEGO brick, classroom-friendly software and engaging, standards-based projects to teach elementary students essential science practices and skills.

With WeDo 2.0, students explore, create and share their scientific discoveries as they build, program and modify projects. Through a series of collaborative challenges, they deeply engage with science, engineering, technology, and coding, sparking a love for experimentation and investigation.…Read More

Editor’s Picks 2015, No. nine: Why you should stop testing and start assessing

One educator issues a challenge to all: skip the Scantron and discover what students really know

PLCs-communitiesEd. note: This year the editors selected ten stories we believe either highlighted an important issue in 2015 and/or signaled the beginning of an escalating trend or issue for 2016 (look for No. 1 on Dec. 31). This April piece, on the difference between testing vs. assessing, was published as part of Innovation In Action, a monthly column from the International Society of Technology in Education focused on exemplary practices in education.

testing-studentsDuring the first day of the semester, one of my students commented: “Your class is the easiest class I have this semester. You don’t have any tests.” I laughed, but the student was serious.

I teach graduate level courses about educational technology, such as Online Tools for Teaching and Learning. The thought of asking students to take tests to show their knowledge had never crossed my mind. My goal has always been to design courses that capture the interest of the students and inspire them to take charge of their learning. I just don’t think that tests can capture my students’ true learning experiences.…Read More

Tough slog ahead in Congress for NCLB rewrite

Debate about testing looms over the promise of a NCLB compromise

nclb-congressU.S. Sens. Patty Murray and Lamar Alexander earlier this month announced a symbolic breakthrough in the decadelong ideological wrangling over how to rewrite the nation’s chief education law.

Alexander, the Tennessee Republican who chairs the Senate committee working to renew the law known as No Child Left Behind, agreed to scrap his own proposed bill in favor of a new version he would craft with Murray, the committee’s ranking Democrat.

Yet the promise of a bipartisan first draftand quickening momentum that Congress may pass a reauthorization that is seven years overduehas only heightened the political fissures.…Read More

How to Create Assessments for The Common Core

Here’s how to create new formative assessments to measure complex student comprehension

assessments-common coreThe rigors of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) ask today’s educators not simply to measure students’ factual knowledge, but instead to accurately assess students’ critical thinking. With such a major transition from multiple-choice testing, it’s important to know how to create assessments for these 21st-century standards.

“The most important question to ask at the onset of assessment creation is: How might we develop and use rich tasks to focus on those outcomes that matter most, and make school more relevant and engaging for learners and teachers?” explained Jay McTighe, consultant and author of the new Lumibook, Core Learning: Assessing What Matters Most, during a webinar hosted by the School Improvement Network.

McTighe emphasized that the aim of the new standards is autonomous transfer, or student comprehension and understanding of concepts, rather than facts.…Read More

New software facilitates assessment and data management

Gradecam’s software uses an ordinary document or web camera to automate data entry into any electronic gradebook.

During recent ed-tech conferences, a number of companies introduced software intended to make assessment and data management easier for schools.

For instance, CTB/McGraw-Hill has introduced a program called TerraNova Common Core, a national achievement test that represents a field-tested, valid, and authentic measure of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), the company says. It is available in reading, English language arts, and mathematics for grades 3-8. TerraNova Common Core offers a full range of item formats in one test, including multiple choice, constructed response, extended-constructed response, and integrated performance tasks. Through this “one test” approach, educators can compare student results on national and Common Core standards across grades and ability levels.

GradeCam demonstrated its software that helps automate the testing process, allowing teachers to get instant feedback from pencil-and-paper tests. The software uses an ordinary document or web camera to automate data entry into any electronic gradebook. Students fill in answers for multiple-choice tests using a pen or pencil, then swipe their test under a document or web camera—or the teacher can do this after collecting the tests.…Read More

New assessment and data management solutions for schools

Here are some of the latest innovations in assessment and data management for schools.

With a strong federal focus on assessment and accountability in education, many ed-tech companies have released new products designed to help educators test their students’ understanding and track progress toward meeting state and federal benchmarks. Here are some of the latest innovations in assessment and data management for schools.

More than 500 school systems have been using CTB/McGraw-Hill’s Acuity product to assess students in grades 3-8 in the subjects of reading, math, and science. With Acuity, educators can administer predictive, diagnostic, and formative assessments to students online, with a pencil and paper, or via student response systems. The Acuity software helps educators analyze students’ progress, identify strengths and weaknesses, and target instruction more appropriately.

Now, the company has released a version of Acuity intended for high schools as well. Acuity for High School covers English and math (Algebra I, II, and Geometry) and is one of the first high school assessment products aligned with the Common Core State Standards that more than 40 states have adopted.…Read More