5 tips to help students master foundational skills

English language arts (ELA) standards identify a set of foundational skills students must master in their progression to becoming skilled readers. These skills include alphabet recognition, concepts of print, phonological awareness, phonics, high-frequency words, and fluency.

To effectively teach foundational skills within the classroom, educators need access to engaging materials that offer the right level of challenge for students and provide ease of usability. Unfortunately, only 7 percent of K-5 teachers use one or more high-quality ELA material for their classroom instruction due to common roadblocks like long adoption cycles and costs associated with the materials. But that statistic may soon change.

The pandemic left a lasting, negative impact on the American education system. K-5 student test scores plummeted in math and reading nationwide this year, erasing two decades of progress. Now, many teachers, schools, and districts want to reassess their foundational skills instruction.…Read More

Designing fair and inclusive tests for non-native speakers

Roughly 20 percent of U.S. residents, which is approximately 67.3 million people (equal to the population of France), speak a language other than English at home, according to the Center for Immigration Studies. When it comes to taking tests not in their first language, these groups can be at a notable disadvantage – especially for tests that influence a test-takers’ future. 

Language is a significant barrier to fair and inclusive testing, particularly if language fluency is not relevant to the skill being measured by the test. This is why designing fair and inclusive tests for non-native speakers is a key component of equitable testing.

Data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development shows that migrants, on average, get significantly lower literacy and numeracy test scores than native speakers. About half of it relates to the language of the test, meaning that if the migrants were tested in their own language, about half the difference would disappear.…Read More

4 tips for using data to differentiate instruction

Finding ways to help all students grow academically – regardless of where they are starting from – can be challenging. From my experiences teaching special education, general education, and English Learners, I can tell you there is no one-size-fits-all approach that works.

In order to meet the unique and individual learning needs of each student, teachers have to find ways to differentiate instruction, and data is critical to doing so.

Teachers often have a lot of assessment data at their fingertips, but they have to know how to use it in order to be successful. An administrator once said in a meeting, “Data by itself is useless. Data is only useful if you apply it.”…Read More

Pennsylvania Evidence Resource Center Adds IXL Math and IXL English Language Arts to List of Evidence-Based Resources for Schools

HARRISBURG, Penn.  — IXL, the personalized learning platform used by more than 13 million students, announced that the Pennsylvania Evidence Resource Center (ERC) has added IXL Math and IXL English Language Arts (ELA) to its list of evidence-based resources. The ERC’s approval signals to educators that IXL Math and IXL ELA have rigorous research supporting their effectiveness in the Keystone State. IXL is used by nearly 30 percent of all K-12 students in Pennsylvania, accounting for more than 560,000 learners.

The Evidence Resource Center is a division of the Pennsylvania Department of Education and provides lists of effective learning resources to the state’s educators. Following its review of IXL’s quasi-experimental research, The IXL effect: Measuring the impact of IXL Math and IXL Language Arts in Pennsylvania schools, the ERC determined that the study met ESSA Tier 2 standards for evidence-based interventions in each subject and added the resources to its list. 

The study investigated hundreds of public schools in Pennsylvania that used IXL Math or IXL ELA. Using data from the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment and Keystone Exams, the study found that schools using IXL outperformed schools not using IXL in math and ELA on each exam. Additionally, an analysis showed that if students mastered just one more IXL skill per week, schools would increase their proficiency rate by 13 points in math and 15 points in ELA. …Read More

Riverside Insights Continues to Lead Innovation in Assessments for English Learners

ITASCA, Ill. – Riverside Insights®, a leading developer of research-based assessments and analytics, today announced the launch of the Battelle Developmental Inventory, Third Edition (BDI-3) in Spanish. This early childhood solution continues Riverside’s strong tradition of developing leading assessments to support deeper understanding of English learners (EL), who are often over- or under-identified for special learning accommodations.

“We are on a mission to elevate the potential of every learner by helping evaluators and educators understand each student’s aptitude, skills and strengths,” said Dr. Sarah Holman, a former EL teacher and bilingual evaluator who now serves as a director for Riverside Insights. “Given the unique and often overlooked challenges of English learners, Riverside Insights has focused on providing multi-dimensional, research-backed insights that help evaluators and educators differentiate between language/exposure learning barriers and academic/cognitive learning barriers to help meet students’ personalized needs.”

Through its product development and design process, Riverside Insights aims to ensure that assessments are accessible to diverse learners, especially those for whom English is not their native language. Riverside Insights offers a comprehensive suite of solutions that have powerful tools to help support English learners in their native language.…Read More

I’m a teacher, but I was also “that student”

This fall, I will return to the classroom for my second year teaching English at Philadelphia’s Excel Academy South, an accelerated high school experience for students seeking a smaller, more personal setting, intensely focused on elevating social skills, emotional wellness, and academic success. 

My colleagues and I are committed to helping students succeed by developing meaningful relationships with each of them, therefore understanding their individual needs, challenges, and strengths. When students feel safe and valued, they become empowered to take charge of their education and future. They begin to fulfill their learning potential. 

It was during my interview with the director and two other administrators at Excel Academy South that I recognized something deeply familiar in so many of their students: It was my younger self. …Read More

Open English Acquires India’s English-Learning Platform enguru

MIAMI, (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Open English, the leading English-learning platform in Latin America and the U.S. Hispanic market, today announced the acquisition of India’s leading mobile language-learning platform, enguru. After establishing a strong foothold in the Americas with 24/7 live classes taught by native-speaking teachers and over 1.5 million students served, Open English successfully expanded into Spain and Turkey, and now hopes to replicate this success in one of the world’s largest English-learning markets. 

Due to India’s multitude of spoken dialects, English has become one of the most commonly used languages in the workplace and a prerequisite to work in India’s fast-growing services sector. Additionally, the number of Internet users in India is expected to reach 900 million by 2025, providing a unique opportunity for the EdTech market, which is projected to reach USD $10.4 billion by 20251. This blend of growing internet penetration and a strong demand for English-learning, has created an optimal environment for Open English’s acquisition of enguru, a platform that’s reached over 16 million downloads across India.

“We’re convinced that enguru’s mobile-first learning platform offers the best solution for Indian consumers through its combination of live interactive classes, self-paced lessons and gamified learning activities,” said Andrés Moreno, founder, chairman and CEO of Open English. “Their emphasis on live classes as the center of the student experience syncs perfectly with Open English’s mission and belief that live instruction is the best and most effective way for students to learn English.”…Read More

Clearlake Capital-Backed Discovery Education Acquires DoodleLearning

Silver Spring, MD (Tuesday, August 17, 2022)Discovery Education—the worldwide edtech leader backed by Clearlake Capital Group, L.P. (together with its affiliates, “Clearlake”)—announced the acquisition of  DoodleLearning. The United Kingdom-based DoodleLearning’s Math and English Language Arts products create personalized learning experiences that help improve students’ academic achievement and confidence. Terms were not disclosed.  

The acquisition of DoodleLearning supports Discovery Education’s mission to prepare learners for tomorrow by creating innovative classrooms connected to today’s world. DoodleLearning complements Discovery Education’s other award-winning digital services, which include  Discovery Education’s K-12 platformMystery ScienceSTEM Connect, and the  MathScience, and  Social Studies Techbooks. 

“Discovery Education is dedicated to creating a best-in-class edtech ecosystem that supports our mission to prepare today’s students for future success,” said Discovery Education Chief Executive Officer Scott Kinney. “This acquisition is an important milestone in that effort, and we look forward to both partnering with the talented DoodleLearning team and scaling the reach of their innovative, adaptive Math and English Language Arts products.” …Read More

4 ways to support ELLs in post-pandemic learning

There’s no question that the COVID-19 pandemic impacted learning in ways educators and policymakers are still working to understand. But while all students felt the impact, certain historically underserved student groups–including English language learners (ELLs)–were disproportionately affected.

During virtual learning, ELLs didn’t have access to many of the in-school resources they typically use and need to learn best. Many student groups suffered from limited or no access to reliable high-speed internet, appropriate technology devices to use for virtual and hybrid learning, and unpredictable family situations that arose as a result of the pandemic.

While educators focus on addressing pandemic-related learning loss and closing existing learning gaps that grew wider during the pandemic, focusing on ELLs is critical.…Read More

PBLWorks Announces its 2022 PBL Champions

Novato, CA (July 27, 2022) – PBLWorks, the leading provider of professional development for Project Based Learning (PBL), has announced its 2022 PBL Champions – a program that honors schools, districts and individuals for their commitment to high quality Project Based Learning. The 2022 PBL Champions are:

  • District PBL Champion
    • Broward County Public Schools (Fort Lauderdale, Florida)
  • School PBL Champion
    • Thomas A. Edison Career and Technical Education High School (Queens, New York)
  • Individual PBL Champion
    • Kendall Van Valkenburg, High School English Teacher at Red Canyon Alternative High School (Gypsum, Colorado)

“We were thrilled to see so many great nominations and learn about the great work happening in classrooms, schools, and districts across the country,” said PBLWorks CEO Bob Lenz in announcing the PBL Champions at the 2022 PBL World conference. “I want to extend my deepest appreciation and admiration for all of you who are weathering the storms this year staying committed to our students, families, and communities. From the bottom of my heart and on behalf of our team at PBLWorks.”

During the 2022 PBL World Conference, PBLWorks also announced the first ever recipient of the “John Larmer Lifetime Learner Award” named after author and PBLWorks’ longtime editor-in-chief John Larmer. This year’s recipient was Rose Moe, a 6th-grade math teacher at Lincoln Middle School in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District. Rose was provided complimentary registration for PBL World 2022.…Read More