WHEN THE POLK COUNTY SCHOOL District in central Florida introduced CompassLearning Odyssey in 2005, administrators planned to implement the Web-based curriculum in 90 schools serving grades K-8 over a five-year period. But a district’s best-laid plans can go awry once school-level educators know something close at hand can help their students become more successful.
“What was initially planned as a five-year rollout was turned into a three-year effort because of the clamor from schools to have the new Odyssey curriculum and the 24/7 access the Web platform enabled,” says Cristie DeVane, senior manager of the School Technology Services Department within the Information System & Technology Division for the 95,000-student K12 district.
The reason for the clamor is not surprising when you consider the district’s success with Odyssey. In the 2006-07 school year, more than 6,000 of some 10,000 students in school target groups who used Odyssey for over 30 hours made gains in the development scale score on the state test above the district’s average gains.
“We know that outstanding classroom teachers and involved school-level administrators are the keys to any success story,” DeVane says, “but this group of practitioners also believes that the engaging, individualized curriculum provided by Odyssey helped their students make these gains.”
CompassLearning Odyssey is a research-based curriculum that supports differentiated instruction, formative assessment and targeted intervention and enrichment. The interactive curriculum keeps students engrossed and entertained while delivering explicit instruction aligned with state and national standards and No Child Left Behind requirements. Odyssey’s data management and assessment tools track student performance, diagnose strengths and weaknesses, prescribe specific instruction and create individual learning paths. Research in school districts using Odyssey show documented improvements on standardized tests.
Polk schools use Odyssey’s mathematics and reading/language arts curriculum. Some classrooms use the science and social studies content to practice reading in the content area. And students who need English-language assistance use the Odyssey English Language Learning Program.
Polk’s involvement with CompassLearning began almost 20 years ago, when students began using the curriculum in computer labs. The current Web-based design of Odyssey allows 24/7 access from any location with an Internet connection. “We are seeing ever-increasing use for whole class instruction and classroom centers,” DeVane says.
Student use of the curriculum at home is also increasing, and for the first time this year, schools provided the Odyssey curriculum to students during the summer recess.
“All of the increased opportunities for access make it easy for a teacher to ensure a targeted population of students gain access to the curriculum for at least 30 hours over the course of a year,” DeVane says. “Odyssey’s robust reporting capabilities make it easy for parents, teachers and administrators to monitor time logged into the system.”
Odyssey’s data management functions are especially useful. “The reports available for students, parents, teachers and administrators are easy to access and decipher,” DeVane says. Polk has been able to pull student data from the Odyssey database into the district’s own Interactive Data Evaluation and Assessment product, providing a single point of entry for administrators and teachers to analyze student data. The district has used Odyssey Test builder to deliver quarterly benchmark assessments to students in grades 1?5, and Polk is currently investigating the use of it to construct mid- and end-of-semester tests for middle-school courses.
The ability to tie state standards and benchmarks to each test item in the customized assessment tools, DeVane says, “provides the classroom teacher with a clear picture of high priority benchmarks that would need to be addressed before state testing,”
Odyssey also recognizes the all-important role of parent involvement. In addition to activities for the home, parents can access student data with a unique username and password.
“We have seen a very positive reaction to Odyssey,” DeVane says.
For more information, please visit www.compasslearning.com or call 1-800-257-6016.