Over the last several months, Five-Star Technology Solutions has partnered with Google to lead workshops across the United States focused on empowering educators to take advantage of CS First, a free computer science curriculum. Building on the success of this program, Google recently announced Code with Google, a set of activities and opportunities for students in third grade through college. It’s clearer than ever that Google is committed to helping all students - whether they’re interested in art, game design, science, or storytelling - to learn valuable computer science skills that will benefit them throughout their lives.
Have teachers ever been asked to do more? They're simultaneously responsible for providing engaging instruction on academic standards, helping students navigate complex social-emotional challenges, and serving as community leaders inside and outside of school. In this demanding environment, any solution that saves teachers time is worthwhile, even more so if it also improves learning outcomes.
With so many formative assessment options available, how do you know which one is best for students, teachers, and administrators? After all, the needs for each of these stakeholders vary considerably. As you and your team make an important decision about which program you will select using funds from Indiana’s formative assessment grant, I hope that you’ll carefully consider our solution, Pivot Inspect.
Computer-Adaptive vs. Fixed-Form Assessments
Many formative (interim) assessment programs, including those provided by NWEA and STAR, are computer-adaptive. While this approach has clear benefits for a set of specific purposes, teachers have no control over the items students will see. In other words, teachers can’t answer a fundamental question using a computer-adaptive tool: Have students learned the specific skills I’ve taught?
Indiana’s graduation pathways empower students to focus their efforts in high school on a range of careers while acknowledging that there are multiple ways to demonstrate postsecondary readiness. Overall, this initiative promises to bring significant benefits to students, families, schools, and communities. However, counselors and administrators may be left wondering how they will track every student’s pathway considering there are so many options. That’s why the Pivot team has developed an intuitive solution with several time-saving benefits.
Over the last several months, Indiana legislators and policymakers wisely amended the requirements for high school graduation to better reflect the varied and valid pathways that students pursue as adults. Rather than mandating that all students pass the same high-stakes standardized assessments to earn a diploma, students are now free to demonstrate their postsecondary readiness in ways that better reflect their interests and goals.
As technology makes adaptive testing easier than ever, do fixed-form assessments still have a role? K-12 education leaders, especially assessment and curriculum directors, must make difficult choices regarding which screeners, diagnostics, formative assessments, and summative exams to use. By comparing the benefits and drawbacks of computer-adaptive testing and fixed-form assessments, it’s possible to select the right tool for the right job.
While some people believe that teachers spend their summers lounging on the beach all day, the truth is that great educators are using much of their time away from school to revise their curriculum for the upcoming year. June and July are when educators attend conferences, plan new learning activities for their students, and reflect on ways they can improve their practice. In other words, summer isn’t just a break.
This is true for administrators, too.
What do you think of when you hear the word data? Do you envision numbers rapidly scrolling on a computer screen like in The Matrix? Or of spreadsheets with endless rows and columns filled with figures and formulas? Even worse, maybe the word is anxiety-inducing because you’ve heard the phrases data-driven instruction and data-driven decision-making a few too many times.
What do you think of when you hear the word warehouse? Do you imagine forklifts carrying pallets of cardboard boxes across dusty concrete floors? Or a place where things go to be stored, perhaps indefinitely?
Despite some of these connotations, a data warehouse designed for educators is a platform for exploring questions tied to improving teaching and learning. A data warehouse built for teachers should bring together multiple sources of student information so that strengths and areas for improvement become clear. Any single source of information is likely insufficient to draw conclusions. But by storing, sorting, and synthesizing summative, diagnostic, and formative assessment results, a data warehouse can help educators identify problems and solutions more effectively and efficiently.