When Ashley Jessie arrived at West High School of Knoxville, Tennessee in the fall of 2016, she had a mission for the school: she wanted a way to bring the school closer together. In addition to boosting unity among teachers and students, as Principal of West High School she also had her eye on increasing student success on the state’s TNReady assessment.
After a year of hard work by West teachers and students, Jessie’s mission for the school is becoming a reality. The school was named a Level 5 school due to the incredible student growth that occurred on the annual TNReady state assessments. Level 5, the highest achievable recognition, means that the school’s students made significantly more progress than the Growth Standard set by the state. (Level 3 would mean that the school simply met the Growth Standard) With the help of Edulastic and the unified efforts of teachers and students alike, West was committed to improving educational growth and earned this incredible recognition for their high level of achievement.
Leading with Assessment
West HS had not been using a unified way to track assessment before Jessie arrived. Having had a positive relationship with Edulastic in the past, she decided to bring it onto the scene at West HS. “I decided to go with Edulastic because I felt comfortable with it.” she recalls.
To ensure a smooth implementation, the school offered professional development opportunities to help everyone become more comfortable with the tool. “First impressions were really positive overall,” recalls Chemistry Teacher Lindsay Bell. “The website is really user friendly. The whole process is very user friendly. The website is really easy to navigate on your own without having to read a bunch of manuals.”
“What I did realize quickly was that we didn’t have all the standards for high school on Edulastic,” said Jessie. The remedy was simple — working with the support team at Edulastic, they were able to have all the necessary standards uploaded and ready to go.
From there, the school started using Edulastic in full swing. “We started using it with PLCs, analyzing the data, talking about the formative assessments, and those types of things. It was a slow journey trying to get everybody on it but by the end of the year, those who had their standards were using it for benchmarks. This year it’s becoming a regular in the classroom.” said Jessie. “Another thing that has helped is that we’ve become 1:1 completely so the technology piece is there.”
Students in Chemistry Teacher Lindsay Bell’s class work diligently on their Edulastic digital assessments. As students work through the problems, the results are updated in live time on her dashboard.
[Photos courtesy of Lindsay Bell]
West High School is supported by a culture of unity. Jessie and her team promote unity in multiple ways, cultivating a community that lifts each other up. “It doesn’t matter what pathway or what walk of life you are from,” Jessie says. “We are all together in this and we have one unity which is that we are all here at West High School at the same time.”
The transition to Edulastic for digital assessment contributed to West’s theme of unity. Whereas before teachers were working with pencil and paper or doing their own thing, common digital assessment allows teachers across grades or subjects to come together. By sharing an assessment platform they can easily collaborate, ascertain best teaching tactics, and work together to identify when to intervene and how to support struggling students. Edulastic provided a common language to support the common goals shared within each PLC.
Nat Scott teaches English to freshmen at West and appreciates how digital assessment provides him visibility, which gives him peace of mind. Teachers can gather in their PLCs and have a better idea of where everyone is at. “Teachers get to work together. [Digital assessment] gets us on the same page. There’s more collaboration instead of trying to go your own way sometimes and knowing that you are working towards this common goal helps.” Scott notes.
Even students enjoy the positive functionality that digital assessment provides. “What kids love about Edulastic is that they see the real time data,” says Jessie. “This year our focus as a school is on student ownership. So they are able to know where they are, set goals, and try to push forward to the next level.”
On the school leadership level, the reporting features in Edulastic allow Jessie to look at the progress of students across the school. From Edulastic’s reporting features she can see who needs more support and provide appropriate assistance to those teachers or students. Unified benchmark assessments tied to TNReady standards give insight into students’ progress toward mastering standards. With online benchmark testing, students will be comfortable taking the online state test and the results won’t be a surprise.
Spring 2017 TNReady Results
After one year, in the spring of 2017, West saw fantastic TNReady results and was honored by the Tennessee Department of Education as a Level 5 School, the highest attainable level. In Math and ELA, an incredible 14.3% of students who were struggling in the Below Basic category, advanced levels into higher brackets. The fantastic outcome came from the joint effort of the teachers and leadership at West. Edulastic served as a tool in their toolbox, providing the visibility and rigor needed to effectively prepare students.
West has revolutionized the way they monitor and support student growth and saw the immediate positive results in their state-wide assessment, TNReady. With digital assessment, Teachers were able to improve how they spent their time and supported their students. As Bell puts it, “It sets up the teacher and the kid to immediately reflect without spending a lot of their own time calculating the standards.”
Moving forward, Jessie wants to continue to make the experience with Edulastic seamless for everyone. Jessie describes her relationship with Edulastic as more of a “partnership” because of the strong relationship and consistent dialogue between her and the product team at Edulastic. Since the beginning, the relationship has paved the way for updates and features that have helped make Edulastic assessments and reports even better for her and her teachers. She even includes a feedback section in her newsletter to the school that asks for feedback so she can pass along important suggestions or ideas to Edulastic.
In the meantime, teachers at West are continuing to enjoy the benefits of online assessment. “If I’m doing a reading quiz now, I’m not just asking simple recall questions about ‘what happened’ which is nice.” says Scott, “I get to set up the quiz similar to how their end-of-year test will be. It’s these quick assessments that we can do on a daily basis that have made life way-better this year. It’s really changed my world.”