Supporting Deeper Learning With Tools for Targeted Feedback
Teachers at Calusa Elementary School in Boca Raton, Florida, are committed to making sure students meet rigorous state standards. Nevertheless, Calusa, which serves about 1,200 students in grades K5, was still struggling to monitor state standards.
Just before the start of the 2016-17 school year, 12 Calusa teachers began a pilot program using Standards Tracker from Learning Sciences International. Standards Tracker allows teachers to track individual student progress daily toward standards-based learning targets. Rather than waiting for quizzes and tests to discover which students have fully absorbed lessons, teachers have immediate answers. Teachers can also easily share data from the Standards Tracker for improved collaboration and planning.
Calusa principal Dianne Rivelli-Schreiber says teachers were selected for the pilot program based on their comfort with a new system for monitoring student learning. After some training and feedback to Learning Sciences International, Rivelli-Schreiber says the pilot program teachers were successfully using Standards Tracker daily. Third-grade teacher Brittanie Chirico says when she started using Standards Tracker, she was able to discover where the holes were in their understanding.
“I was able to remediate my kids who were struggling immediately based on the information and the success criteria in Standards Tracker,” Chirico says. “That really kept me focused and kept the students focused as well, and then they started tracking their own progress with partners and independently.”
Rivelli-Schreiber says the number of teachers using Standards Tracker doubled in December after a buddy program was initiated to get two teachers per grade using it.
A web-based platform that can be used on a tablet, smartphone, or computer, Standards Tracker allows for minute-to-minute monitoring of standards without interrupting the instructional focus, and it allows users to share resources. It is equipped with learning standards from all 50 states, and it allows teachers to collect student evidence of learning during instruction. It can also generate lesson-specific class reports, focus on district-based units and lessons, create a trend analysis or historical view of student progress, and facilitate personalized instruction.
Calusa teachers also use the Tracker to plan standards-based lessons and units. Gone are the days of carrying giant binders with sticky notes. Standards Tracker has helped Calusa teachers see exactly what’s expected for each standard and learning target. Ultimately, students learn to track their own progress and learning.
“We’ve had several schools come visit us, and as we’re doing instructional walks with their administrators and teachers, we go to classrooms where teachers are religiously using Standards Tracker,” Rivelli-Schreiber says. “When visitors talk to the students, they can verbalize that they know what they need to do. They know if they’re off the mark and what’s expected of them, and they feel more in control of their learning. The kids definitely are becoming very comfortable with it as a learning tool.”
After less than a year using the LSI Standards Tracker, Chirico’s students went from not meeting proficiency standards to meeting them at rates higher than not only other classes at Calusa but throughout the district. Chirico says she was better able to locate where her students were struggling, and she closed the daily achievement gap before the test.
“The Standards Tracker helps me break down the standards to reach rigor, and it guides my instruction,” Chirico says. “Now I can see whether students have actually met the target, or if they are struggling.”