Rachel Robins and I have worked to together for years as a part of Edmentum’s Services team. Our shared goal has always been assisting customers with understanding the product(s) they have purchased. That means making sure that they truly know what the product can do and how it can be used to its full potential. Despite the fact that we now work in different parts of the Services team, she as a consultant in pre-sales and I in post-sales as a product implementation coach, Rachel continues to send me tidbits that help me appreciate our customer needs.
Recently, Rachel forwarded me a summer plan from William Rice, the director of mathematics for Hartford Public Schools in Connecticut. The plan defines how to use Study Island to strengthen the math skills of incoming 9th graders. She explained, “I spoke with William a few weeks ago…His program is only three weeks long and is extremely focused. I think it is amazing…He is very driven to see his students and teachers succeed.” I agree with Rachel, and here are the three elements that make this plan so effective.
As Hartford Public Schools’ mathematics director, William Rice knows that certain skills are essential for success in higher-level courses. In the district’s summer math plan, he identifies those skills in two clusters that serve as reporting categories. In doing so, he made a to-do list that is achievable and manageable within a three-week window. He recognizes that a plan can’t fix everything, and limiting the scope of the program creates reasonable goals for both teachers and students.
In the summer math plan, William clearly lays out the steps that teachers are expected to follow. First, they assess their students’ depth of knowledge with a custom pretest that William created at this district level, administered using Study Island. Then, teachers use instructional resources imbedded within Study Island for remediation to fill the knowledge gaps. These resources include lesson plans with PowerPoint presentations, Khan Academy videos, and interactive animations, to name just a few. Next, teachers topics and customized assessments within Study Island and monitor their students’ progress using Sensei, Edmentum’s innovative data management tool. Because student practice work is automatically scored and the resulting data is color-coded, it is easy for teachers to see the areas where students are successful and where they still need additional help. At the end of the program’s 21 days, teachers administer a summative assessment to measure their students’ overall progress.
Before the summer program starts, teachers receive a four-page document which describes the plan, including screenshots that show where to find the necessary resources in Study Island. This clear, succinct explanation relieves teachers of the stress of planning and digesting crucial information, as there isn’t much time in the tight summer schedule. Teacher trainings for the program are conducted in a manner that is just as focused and concise as the plan itself. Finally, by using the district dashboard feature within Sensei for Study Island, William can easily monitor the program’s usage and student progress and ensure that his summer plan is being fulfilled.
I will be keeping in touch with William as he heads into his second year as a director. The summer math plan is a small, yet integral, part of the overall district blueprint for improvement. In the previous five years, noteworthy progress has already been made, including a 25% increase in the high school graduation rate. With a proactive approach that includes the summer math plan and intentional, effective use of software programs like Study Island, I have no doubt that Hartford Public Schools will meet the goals of the next phase of its improvement plan.
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