“What students already know when they enter the classroom—before we have even met them—is the strongest predictor of how well they will learn the new curriculum. Concepts, skills, and vocabulary from last semester, last year, and three grades ago can haunt students’ efforts to acquire new information.”

– Suzy Pepper Rollins, Learning in the Fast Lane

Egg Harbor Township Primary School BuildingLike many districts, Egg Harbor Township Schools in southern New Jersey has elementary students who don’t master the skills needed for the next grade by the end of the school year. To solve this problem, the district created an intensive summer program to fill the gaps.

The summer program brings 27 teachers from Title I schools to work intensively with more than 200 students to remediate skills in both math and language arts. With just 12 days to work with students, teachers need to quickly identify each student’s needs, focus their one-on-one instruction on those skills, and monitor progress closely. A pre-test at the beginning of the session pinpoints learning gaps, and the same assessment as a post-test measures growth.

With such a short timeframe, teachers don’t want to spend time grading or collating data, but need data quickly.

“We’ve done data analysis before, but the data comes back 4-6 weeks. That’s way too long,” says Dr. Charles Fredericks, Supervisor of State and Federal Programs. “Our new superintendent wanted to get data quicker, so we decided to do these summer school assessments online. Our goal was getting data into the hands of the teachers within 48 hours.”

Google Classroom sync makes setup easy

Edulastic’s instant data and wide variety of technology-enhanced question types made it the ideal tool to pilot in the Title I summer program. And Edulastic’s Google Classroom sync meant easy setup and no additional passwords or logins for teachers or students.

“I like the idea of a focused pilot because the goal is clear and the teacher training manageable,” Fredericks says. “Our district is implementing Google Classroom this year, so the Title I teachers who learn it in the summer can teach and support others in that rollout.”

A few staff members worked quickly to get the pilot up and running. “Lisa Sooy was outstanding in coordinating the whole summer program and incorporating Edulastic,” Frederick says. In addition, fourth grade teacher Christa Capriotti provided support that was critical to the pilot’s success. “Christa was the key to the program,” Frederick says. “To help teachers do the first round of testing, she was in every testing session facilitating the initial online testing.”

Instant data focuses teaching and shows growth

Doing assessments online amazed the teachers. Within minutes they could view reports online or download them and knew exactly what they needed to focus on. Administrators and even the Board of Education could see students gaining skills and how well they were doing overall.

“For the teachers, the lightbulb went off when they saw that they could drill down to see how the students were doing on the specific standards or parts of a standard,” Fredericks says. “I went around and asked teachers, ‘What skill are you teaching today based on the data from yesterday?’ And to a teacher they could tell me. There’s educational beauty in that.”

Even the students liked taking the tests online better. “Watching the children on the computer is amazing,” Capriotti says. “They are a lot more savvy than we realize.”

Summer success goes viral

The district planned to have only the trained Title I teachers give this year’s trimester benchmark assessments on Edulastic through Google Classroom. Because the tools complement each other so well, the district expected to increase adoption of both Edulastic and Google Classroom by introducing them to teachers together.

Because the summer pilot went so well,  the Title I teachers decided to give all of their assessments online this year. When the rest of the teachers heard about the instant data and easy set up, they wanted to do their trimester benchmarks online as well. Now the whole building is on board.

“This spread way faster than we expected,” Fredericks says. “Our measured rollout went right out the window, and it’s going to be another experiment!”

Empty Summer Classroom with Computers

With the program a success, school is out for the rest of the summer. Don’t forget to put away your laptops!  Photo by jdog90

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