Edulastic’s easy-to-use interface and quick turnaround time enables Burton School District leaders and teachers to focus on pedagogy: no more headaches over technical issues or waiting for data
It’s been a long journey. In fact, over the last seven years, Burton School District has tried three different assessment options in the attempt of achieving district-wide goals. Some solutions were limited to bubble sheets and required wide testing windows. Others solutions were difficult to use, which made it hard on teachers. The district knew there had to be a solution out there which was easy to use and could help them gain the insights for 5,000 students and about 230 teachers. Their search continued.
An encounter at a conference and a tip from a teacher at another district brought Edulastic to the attention of David Shimer, Director of Education Services at Burton Schools. After taking an initial look and seeing how simple and intuitive the platform seemed, the district decided to run a small pilot with grades 3 to 6 in order to see how it would work out. A successful pilot transformed into an expanded pilot that included older grades. Upon positive reception during the second trial run, they tried out the assessments with second grade. Once the expansion with the younger students returned successful, the entire district decided to adopt it the following year.
Easy to use, quick turnaround, and integrated with Google
Before Edulastic, the district had been trudging through multiple-choice-based assessments that were clunky and required heavy training and guidance throughout the process. With Edulastic, the district was finding it easy to push out a benchmark assessment and get results with clarity. “I think the ‘aha’ moment was when, within a period of one week, we were able to get every student across the district logged in, have teachers get an assessment from their students, and as a district we were able to get the charts and graphs back in ways that allowed us to adjust instruction and training,” recalls Shimer.
The pilot period had allowed the district to test Edulastic in small, controlled groups before expanding across all of the schools. Throughout the spring semester, each time they expanded their pilot, they realized a new benefit. With the 3rd to 6th grade, they realized that minimal training was needed to get everyone on board. When they tried 7th and 8th at a middle school site, it was the first time they could see the data broken down by period in reports. When the district recruited the 2nd grade to try Edulastic, they loved it. Shimer notes, “Once they initially logged into Google, they were able to easily enter each time. That was huge for K-2 who have younger students still becoming familiar with the devices they are using.”
With less technical issues and quick turnaround, the district had more time available. They could finally focus on assessment development, interpreting data and reports, and supporting teachers.
Less time grading, more time teaching
When teachers were introduced to the product, the reception was positive. The district stopped hearing questions about lost logins and technical issues, and started hearing teachers say “this is so much better,” and “Thank you for bringing this to our classrooms.”
Teachers use student data from Edulastic to fuel their discussion at weekly PLC meetings. The instant feedback saved time they would otherwise spend grading, and allowed them to quickly analyze what strategies are working and where students might need more support.
Elizabeth Spindler, a 6th Grade Teacher at Burton School District, appreciates the autograde features and automatic reports. “It saves me a tremendous amount of time,” Spindler says. “And I can bring my data to meetings with other teachers.” In these weekly meetings, topics include why one teacher’s students are doing better on a particular topic or comparisons of assessments that the entire grade has done. These are the types of conversations that drive efficient instruction and help teachers improve implementation of their curricula. Having the data on-hand improves the effectiveness of these meetings. “And again,” Spindler says, “I’m not having to sit down with these assessments and grade them so it’s same day/next day conversations. It’s a life saver.”
Edulastic has also helped empower students to take control of their own learning in Spindler’s class. With the instant feedback on formative assessments, students have the chance to go back to reattempt questions they got incorrect. This encourages grit and rewards hard work. “Before Edulastic, the grading would take so long that there would be no way to give feedback that quickly,” says Spindler, “This year we are really talking about goal setting and students being on top of their own learning. So one of the things I’m finding is that if I give them the immediate feedback, generally they choose to go back and try again.”
With Edulastic, teachers can see student results on assessments in real time through the Assessment Dashboard. “That live dashboard is huge for them and they can get item analysis.” says Shimer, “Teachers can see their information quickly and react to it.”
“I appreciate being able to hone in on questions and standards especially over grade level.“ says Spindler. The ability to analyze items by state standards helps the teachers know which content areas they need to review or which areas students have already mastered. As Burton Schools prepare for CAASPP (California Assessment for Student Performance and Progress) and NGSS testing, the standards-tied items and online practice help students gain confidence for testing day.
The insights from the graphs and data allow principals to understand how they can best support their teachers and students. Matthew Baxter, Principal at Burton School District’s William R Buckley Elementary School says, “The biggest feature I like in Edulastic is the reports. With the reports I can see how the children are doing, how the teachers are doing, the questions or standards that teachers need to work on and I can collaborate with the teachers to help them head in the direction they need to go.”
On the Horizon
In the coming years, the district looks forward to spending less time monitoring technical things and more time refining the learning. They plan to work on District benchmarks and provide flexible windows for newly adapted curriculum so teachers can decide when to push the end of unit common formative assessments to students.
Shimer mentions that it’s hard to switch to something new when you are embedded in a process already however the switch to Edulastic has revolutionized their relationship with the assessment process. He says, “I believe Edulastic will provide us a way to make changes with our teaching rather than just assess students.”
“I’ve been in charge of data for the last seven years and I’ve been looking for a solution like this for that many years.” Already the tool has freed up his time so he can focus more on school support and creation of high-quality items.