Adaptive diagnostic and online instruction getting results in N.Y. district
Kimberly Moritz is in her seventh year as the superintendent of Randolph Central School District. Prior to leading the district of 977 K12 students in this rural community in western New York, Moritz worked as a teacher for ten years in a neighboring rural school district and as a principal in two other school districts. Moritz joined Randolph with the goal of raising the district’s historically average student achievement; for over a decade, Randolph was seeing mediocre results on state assessments.
In 2010, new state mandates for teacher evaluation, principal evaluation and assessment required Randolph’s administration and board of education to develop a new strategy for the district, which would include a new platform for differentiating instruction in reading and math for grades K-8. Administrators wanted to implement one single program for both reading and mathematics across grades K-8 to ease implementation and training, and needed one with a diagnostic assessment that would give teachers the data and resources to intervene and drive student achievement. It was also important to Randolph administrators that the program provide all children with a rigorous academic experience, independent of what teacher they had. After a thorough evaluation and selection process, the district began using i-Ready from Curriculum Associates in September 2011.
Built for the Common Core State Standards, i-Ready combines a valid and reliable growth measure and individualized instruction in a single online product. The adaptive i-Ready Diagnostic for reading and math pinpoints student needs and provides ongoing progress monitoring as well as teacher action plans for individual and group instruction. The diagnostic tool also automatically places students in online lessons, which are customized according to their comprehension level. Moritz says the ongoing assessments in i-Ready were a key reason the district chose the product. “It seemed like the best bet to help drive school improvement in grades K8, given that it provided our district with a continual look at data throughout the school year,” she says.
Differentiated instruction was an important aspect of the district’s improvement plan, and the differentiation i-Ready provides was another important factor in the decision. “We talk about differentiation in education all the time, but differentiating instruction is extremely difficult for many teachers,” Moritz says. To that end, the detailed student data in i-Ready enable teachers to quickly and easily identify areas for improvement and to plot a course of action. Then i-Ready provides further support for differentiated instruction and blended learning, with ready-made teacher-led lessons to target students’ skill gaps, giving students the opportunity to work on their skill gaps at their own pace in online lessons. And finally, i-Ready enables teachers and administrators to track students’ growth and monitor progress toward end-of-year goals.
Already, the district is seeing significant progress. In both 2011 and 2012, Randolph was ranked 74th out of 97 districts in western New York by the state agency Business First. But in 2013, after one year using i-Ready, the district had jumped 15 places to 59th, and the 2014 rankings placed the district nine places higher at 50th after a second year of i-Ready implementation. Moritz has found that the more teachers used i-Ready, the more their students improved on end-of-year tests. “The elementary teachers who ignored i-Ready had the worst results on the state growth measure,” she says. “We showed great improvement in Business First Rankings and we improved test scores…. I can’t wait to see what the future holds.”
For more information, go to i-Ready.com.