5 ways this district evaluates its digital content purchases

K-12 schools spend billions on edtech tools, but often, many of the tools go unused or aren’t evaluated for effectiveness. So how can district technology teams ensure an effective evaluation and purchasing process for digital content and new software?

The Pickerington Local School District in Ohio has done just that, with a carefully-honed process that ensures communication and transparency between its curriculum and technology departments, as well as with teachers.

“The big problem is that we spend a lot of money on edtech,” said Brian Seymour, PLSD’s director of instructional technology, during an ISTELive 21 session. “Now, with everything that happened with COVID, so much more money was invested into edtech so much more quickly than in the past, because we had to adapt. The problem is that we’re spending a lot of money, and are we really doing it in a wise way?”…Read More

Post-COVID plans should focus on program values and evaluation

As the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic begin to relax, many institutions are going to step back and try to reestablish institutional norms. Many educational organizations have struggled through a year or more of remote learning. The instructional and technology systems of many organizations have been strained.

Some of this stepping back may be as simple as trying to return to a pre-pandemic normal. More of this review may be revision and redevelopment of institutional strategic plans, technology plans, and other such planning documents.

Many of those planning processes have utilized the VMOSA standard as a guide to ensuring a coherent and complete final plan. VMOSA generally stands for vision, mission, objectives and goals, strategies, and action plans. However, as defined, VMOSA is missing a couple of key facets that are required for a truly holistic plan. V should be expanded to provide the planning process not only a guiding vision for the organization, but also the guiding values under which the organization is hoping to operate. …Read More

Computer Science Teachers Association Adds CoderZ’s Professional Development Program to Curated List of Quality Resources

DERRY, N.H. – April 20, 2021 – After a rigorous evaluation, the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) has added CoderZ to its online list of professional learning programs. The list enables K-12 computer science (CS) teachers to find quality professional development opportunities and associated curriculum that fit their needs and goals.

An independent committee of experts evaluated the CoderZ professional development programs using a detailed rubric aligned to quality indicators such as the following:

  • Content Focus
  • Active Learning
  • Collaboration
  • Differentiation
  • Models and Modeling
  • Inclusivity
  • Accessibility
  • Feedback and Reflection
  • Scale and Sustainability
  • Efficacy
  • Ongoing Support
  • Sustained Duration

The CoderZ professional development program introduces instructors to the concepts of teaching computer science and computational thinking using an online tool. Participants learn robotics and coding best practices as well as strategies to successfully leverage a graphic programming interface. In addition, the program hones the skills needed to reinforce student engagement, application, exploration and use of communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity.…Read More

New Collaboration Gives Online Teachers a Standard for Improving Successful Outcomes

Standard for Success, the industry-leader in teacher evaluation software, and Stride, Inc., the nation’s leading provider of online and blended education, have entered into a new agreement that will allow online teachers at Stride K12-powered schools, and even school districts to evaluate online teacher performance, competencies, and domains in real-time.

“After a school year like no other, parents, students and districts have worked hard to provide educational solutions for their students.” said Todd Whitlock, CEO and co-founder of Standard for Success. “Our custom tool standardizes the feedback opportunities for teachers and administrators. This aggregates teacher observations for real-time coaching, to celebrate excellence, and to help improve teacher and student growth all in line with our goal to help schools develop better teachers, better students, and a better world.” 

The tool is expected to roll-out across all Stride K12-powered schools this school year providing teacher feedback to improve outcomes as students head toward end of year testing.…Read More

Think Together’s Helen Welderufael is Named a 2021 “Next Generation of Afterschool Leaders”

Think Together, a Santa Ana-based and California’s leading nonprofit provider of afterschool, expanded learning and school improvement programs, is proud to announce the National AfterSchool Association (NAA), has named Think Together Regional Operations Analyst Helen Welderufael, as one of NAA’s 2021 Next Generation of Afterschool Leaders.

Welderufael joined Think Together in 2018 as the Regional Operations Analyst for the San Bernardino Region. In her role, she oversees the compliance, evaluation, data collection and training for one of Think Together’s largest regions which includes 91 schools across seven school districts.

“We’re so proud of Helen and all she has already accomplished during her very promising tenure at Think Together,” said Randy Barth, Think Together founder and CEO. “Her strong organizational skills, reliability and drive have earned her the respect of her peers and leaders alike and we’re thrilled to have her represent our organization among our industry’s top leaders.”…Read More

South Carolina Department of Education Selects DreamBox Learning® to Support COVID-19 Academic Recovery

DreamBox Learning®, the K-8 digital math company that pioneered Intelligent Adaptive Learning™ technology, announced today that the South Carolina Department of Education (SCDE) has selected DreamBox Learning Math to support teaching and learning during the COVID-19 pandemic and mitigate student learning loss. The SCDE will offer DreamBox Learning Math through June 2022 to 21 districts reaching more than 32,000 students in the most underserved communities in the state.

“We conducted an extensive evaluation of math solutions that could help our districts as we transition from emergency instruction towards ‘academic recovery,’ and DreamBox stood out as the only solution that is both proven to increase student achievement and able to provide actionable learning insights for our teachers,” said Dr. David Mathis, Deputy Superintendent at the SCDE. “DreamBox provides a prescriptive approach to help educators determine where students are in their learning, where they need to be, and a clear path to close that gap.”

Effective for in-person, hybrid, or remote learning and available in both English and Spanish, DreamBox uniquely personalizes the learning experience for each student through an engaging and motivating environment that adapts in real-time within and between math lessons based on how students are solving problems. DreamBox also offers educators interactive professional development courses to learn best practices for using DreamBox to teach online or in the classroom in ways that meet students exactly where they are.…Read More

Oklahoma’s State Textbook Committee Unanimously Approves Discovery Education Science Techbook

Following a comprehensive evaluation, the  Oklahoma State Textbook Committee has unanimously approved the Elementary and Middle School editions of  Discovery Education’s  Science Techbook for statewide use as core instructional resources.  Oklahoma’s adoption of the Science Techbook empowers the state’s school systems to purchase and integrate this innovative digital resource, and corresponding print resources, into teaching and learning.  Discovery Education is the global leader in standards-aligned digital curriculum resources, engaging content, and professional learning for K-12 classrooms.

Delivered through the dynamic, flexible  Discovery Education Experience K-12 platform, Science Techbook drives engagement with exclusive phenomena and interactive content. Virtual and hands-on investigations, STEM activities and a variety of instructional supports enhance the delivery of impactful, blended instruction, in person or at a distance.

Available with the Science Techbook are coordinated digital and print teacher guides offering unit, concept, and lesson overviews, standards connections, and differentiation activities to inform instructional planning and guide three-dimensional learning. Teacher editions also provide flexible pacing options, embedded teacher notes, and Pathways for Learning to address diverse learners. Print student editions and interactive worktexts are available for every grade level and integrate seamlessly with the digital and hands-on assets of this comprehensive program.…Read More

Using data to strengthen writing instruction

Writing is often difficult for educators to teach, challenging for students to do, and hard for administrators to monitor and evaluate. Yet writing well—and the high-quality writing instruction behind it–has become an increasingly important 21st century skill due to online college and job applications, as well as the reliance on email and collaborative documents in many 21st century careers.

Ways to compile and use data to guide writing instruction were explained during an edWebinar sponsored by Texthelp, which featured Joni Degner and Mark Schwartz, a Director and a Product Evangelist for Texthelp. The software automates and accelerates many aspects of the writing-evaluation process, though each teacher’s grading and feedback also remain crucial parts of the process.

Related content: 10 writing lessons for distance learning…Read More

LaunchCode Pilot Program Trains St. Louis Teachers in Job-Focused Coding Curriculum

This week, workforce development nonprofit LaunchCode , announced their new LCHS Pilot Program has successfully deployed in 6 different St. Louis area schools. The program encompasses the creation, deployment and evaluation of a new computer science curriculum for Missouri high school juniors and seniors based on the new curriculum/training standards set forth through Missouri House Bill 3 (HB3).

LCHS Pilot Program is backed by a gift of over $200,000 from Bayer Fund, a philanthropic arm of Bayer, with additional support from AT&T.

As of now, 6 teachers from 6 St. Louis area high schools – Vashon, Gateway STEM, Confluence Academy, KIPP, Affton and Rosati-Kain – are participating in the pilot. Over the summer, the teachers participated in training conducted by LaunchCode’s staff in the curriculum, which includes tech skills that mirror what is needed by area companies. At the start of the school year, those teachers began delivering LaunchCode’s curriculum in their 11th and 12th grade classrooms.…Read More

Virginia Discovery Education Science Experience Wins Approval

Following a comprehensive evaluation, Virginia’s State Board of Education has approved Virginia Discovery Education Science Experience for statewide use as a core instructional resource through its state adoption process.  The State Board of Education’s adoption of Virginia Discovery Education Science Experience empowers the state’s school systems to purchase and integrate this innovative digital curriculum into teaching and learning.  Discovery Education is the global leader in standards-aligned digital curriculum resources, engaging content, and professional learning for K-12 classrooms.

Virginia Discovery Education Science Experience is aligned to Virginia’s 2018 Standards of Learning. In addition, Virginia Discovery Education Science Experience provides educators detailed lesson plans, embedded formative assessments, hands-on activities, digital simulations, and robust teacher supports that immerse students in instruction by sparking their natural curiosity about the world around them.  Virginia Discovery Education Science Experience is comprised of the following award-winning Discovery Education services that are updated regularly at no cost:

Discovery Education Science Techbook.  Science Techbook empowers K-12 educators to transform science instruction through a seamless print and digital curriculum that includes video, audio, text, interactives, hands-on activities, and virtual labs that help educators differentiate instruction and provide a rich and engaging learning experience for students. Additional student features include Spanish/English text-to-speech, leveled reading tools, note-taking and highlighting capabilities.  Science Techbook also includes valuable STEM resources including STEM Project Starters that encourage students to connect math, technology, and engineering to their understanding of science concepts to produce creative solutions to real world problems. Also, the STEM In Action resources help students connect their work to STEM careers, which promotes a clearer understanding of how skills used in school can be applied to jobs “in the real world.”…Read More