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Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District, near Madison, Wisconsin, was facing the potential loss of a large number of substitute teachers about four years ago. The pool of substitutes was filled with retired teachers. Due to changes in retirement benefits, retired teachers would not be able to concurrently collect retirement benefits and work as substitute teachers in Middleton-Cross Plains. 

When Teasley Middle School in Cherokee County, Georgia, opened for the 2013-14 school year, teachers and administrators were looking for an opportunity to help students in grades 6 through 8 better understand STEM learning content. 

Teasley is a Title I school with more than half of its students receiving free or reduced lunch. It also has the highest percentage of English language learners and students with disabilities among middle schools in Cherokee County School District, which has 41,800 students and is 40 minutes north of Atlanta.

Todd Brekhus, President, myON​

What was the reasoning behind wanting to link current events to reading literacy for K8 students?

Herb Miller, Director of Education, OverDrive Education

How do you build a digital reading platform that is easy for both students and teachers to use?

Literacy is essential for success in school, but when students at the middle and high school levels continue to struggle with reading, the consequences can be lifelong. Struggling adolescent readers are more likely to have discipline or behavioral issues, to have lower academic achievement overall and to drop out of school.

Best practices in reading instruction are always evolving, as researchers are constantly learning how to better support early literacy, particularly for young readers and struggling readers. Recent years have brought more changes to how phonics instruction is emphasized in reading curriculum. Many educators who taught during the Reading First era and later within the Common Core are uncertain about how to best support strong phonics instruction, and thus how to lay the foundation for reading success in their districts.

Hopkins Public Schools, with 7,200 students in K12 near the Twin Cities in Minnesota, was having a problem with an increasing demand for substitute teachers during the 2013-14 school year and being unable to maintain a steady supply of candidates.

Human resources staff from the district had to recruit, hire, train and manage substitute teachers, according to Nik Lightfoot, assistant superintendent and director of administrative services.  

Stacey McNinch-Curschman, the secondary curriculum director for Visalia USD in California, knew that as her district was ramping up its training efforts around Common Core standards for mathematics in 2013, as well as its own district-level curriculum changes, both administrators and teachers would need to be continually learning and improving themselves.

“If we work effectively as adults and we’re continually learning and continually improving, that’s going to net better results for kids,” says McNinch-Curschman, whose district has more than 27,000 students.

District Administration welcomed education policy expert Robert Balfanz for this web seminar about what the last 10 years of research has found when it comes to improving the most challenged and lowest-performing schools, as well as the implications of the Trump administration and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos on these efforts.  Balfanz is research professor at the Center for the Social Organization of Schools at Johns Hopkins University School of Education, where he is co-director of the Talent Development Secondary reform model and director of the Everyone Graduates Center.&

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