Modules 9 & 10 – Assessment and Evaluation of Student Information Systems

Student Information Systems (SIS) are critical technologies for educational organizations primarily due to their ability to provide instant access to data. SIS are mainly used to house demographic data such as attendance, discipline referrals, and enrollment information – “a well-designed student information system enables school personnel to study important measures of student engagement, such as attendance, discipline, and suspensions, and to fully analyze problems before attempting a solution” (Bernhardt, 2005, p.2). With information provided by SIS, schools can carefully analyze trends specific to their population and then purposefully plan to address them, rather than implementing generic action plans.

If the primary responsibility of a school leader is to improve student achievement, I was most excited about Instructional Management Systems which

· Provide standards-based lesson plans and resources to help students and teachers raise test scores;

· Help teachers align classroom curriculum to content standards; and

· Help teachers align curriculum between grades (Bernhardt, 2005, p.3).

This type of SIS is extremely important in better enabling teachers to tailor instruction to the learning needs of their students and to track progress towards mastery. Yet, “student data… are an untapped resource in helping educators diagnose student learning needs” (Wayman & Stringfield, 2006, p. 1). The most common reason for this is that often systems are implemented without the proper professional development for school leaders and teachers. Teachers need support in analyzing data and require the professional development and that will allow them to effectively use data to inform classroom practice.

SIS also play a major role in helping to establish the home-school connection that is often missing in schools. Parents have instant access to their children’s performance and can remain abreast of progress. However, these systems can replace personalized contact with families. Schools, such as my own, expect parents to check grades from home and therefore teachers rarely reach out to personally connect with families. For me, establishing a personal connection with parents and families is still important in supporting students in reaching their full potentials. Though we are living in a digital age, we must also remember that not everyone has Internet access and a smart phone. Therefore, educators must establish other ways to stay connected with home. SIS systems can also be motivating for students who track their own progress. Teacher must also, however, personally provide specific and personalized feedback to students as a plan for improvement. For example, seeing a “C-” in the SIS system, does not detail a plan for improvement.

In reviewing the SIS vendor products, I was impressed by all that is offered and definitely saw the benefit for schools. Many of the features overlapped. While it really should boil down to the specific needs of the district and teachers in deciding on SIS systems, I know that for many districts, SIS decisions can also be related to cost. Though Bernhardt (2005) warns against automatically going with the lowest bidder, I am curious about how often less affluent districts sacrifice quality and what they really need the product to do in the name of cost effectiveness.

I am biased towards PowerSchool since that is what my district has been using for a few years now. It is relatively simple to navigate and has made my life, as a teacher must simpler. I do with, however, that teachers were given real PD on how to use it, rather than a manual that we were expected to read and understand mostly on our own. For example, there are some teachers using power school in district who have standards-aligned grade books while others of us were never shown how to do this. Overall, no matter what the product promises to do, teachers and schools will never reap full benefits of SIS systems without proper training and support.

References

Bernhardt, V. L. & Stringfield, S. (2005). Data Tools for School Improvement. Educational Leadership, 62(5), 66-69. Retrieved from http://eff.csuchico.edu/downloads/DataTools.pdf

Centre/SIS. Learners Circle. Retrieved from http://centresis.org/.

Harris School Solutions. Retrieved from http://www.harrisschoolsolutions.com/.

Halverson, R., Grigg, J, Pritchett, R., Thomas, C. (2006). The new instructional leadership: Creating data-driven instructional systems in schools. Retrieved from http://www.cew.wisc.edu/docs/resource_collections/HalversonEtAl_TheNewInstructionalLeadership.pdf

PowerSchool: Always Learning. (2015). Pearson Education, Inc. Retrieved from http://www.pearsonschoolsystems.com/products/powerschool/.

RenWeb: Powering school systems online. Retrieved from http://www.renweb.com/.

Wayman, J. C. (2006, August). Technology-Support involvement of entire faculties in examination of student data for instructional improvement. American Journal of Education, 112. Retrieved from http://edadmin.edb.utexas.edu/datause/papers/Wayman-Stringfield-Faculty-Data-Use.pdfM

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Excellence in Professional Practice

Students will learn to promote an environment of professional learning and innovation that empowers educators to enhance student learning through the infusion of contemporary technologies and digital resources.

Educational Administrators:

  • Allocate time, resources, and access to ensure ongoing professional growth in technology fluency and integration.
  • Facilitate and participate in learning communities that stimulate, nurture and support administrators, faculty, and staff in the study and use of technology.
  • Promote and model effective communication and collaboration among stakeholders using digital-age tools.
  • Stay abreast of educational research and emerging trends regarding effective use of technology and encourage evaluation of new technologies for their potential to improve student learning.

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT CONTENT AND ACTIVITY PLANNER

Name (s): Hassanah Blake                             Date: May 6, 2015

Level (check one):           ☐ District          X  School      ☐ Team

PD Goal: Teachers will integrate technology to create rigorous, relevant, and engaging learning environments where students experience meaningful instruction that allows them to regularly interact with technological tools in ways that enrich their classroom experiences and improve student achievement.

Topic Potential Activity

 

Time:

a.    Deadlines

b.    Staff Time

Required Resources

 

Impact on Goal

 

1. WebQuests: The Making of A Good Journey On-Site PD Workshop; Peer Observations; Professional Article Resources; Peer Observation and Coaching; Websites; Teacher Collaboration; a. Initial Half-Day Training (During Staff-Development Day)

b. Initial Half-Day Training; PLC reflection 2x/Week; Lesson Plans

No cost or Substitute Req.; On-Site Computer Lab; Projector: Facilitated by Technology Coordinator, Staff Member, Parent or Community Volunteer HIGH

Increases Student Engagement; High-Order Thinking, Student-Centered Learning

2. Using Interactive Smart Boards in the Classroom On-Site PD Workshop; Peer Observations; Professional Article Resources; Peer Observation and Coaching; Websites; Teacher Collaboration a. Initial Half-Day Training (During Staff-Development Day)

b. Initial Half-Day Training; PLC reflection 2x/Week; Lesson Plans; Formal Observations

No cost or Substitute Req.; On-Site Computer Lab; Projector; Internet Access; Facilitated by Technology Coordinator, Staff Member, Parent or Community Volunteer HIGH

Increases Student Engagement; Through Multimedia, Student-Centered Learning

3. Digital Citizenship On-Site PD Workshop; Common Sense Media Website; Teacher Collaboration a. Initial 3-Hour Training

b. Initial 3-Hour Training; Lesson Plans;

No cost or Substitute Req.; On-Site Computer Lab; Projector; Internet Access; Facilitated by Technology Coordinator, Staff Member, Parent or Community Volunteer HIGH

Increases Student Engagement; Through Multimedia, Student-Centered Learning

4. Checks for Understanding Using Socrative Digital Tool On-Site PD Workshop; Socrative Digital Tool Account; Teacher Collaboration a. Initial 3-Hour Training

b. Initial 3-Hour Training; Lesson Plans; Formal Observations

No cost or Substitute Req.; On-Site Computer Lab; Projector; Internet Access; Facilitated by Technology Coordinator, Staff Member, Parent or Community Volunteer; Free Socrative Account MEDIUM

Increases Student Engagement; Immediate Monitoring of Student Understanding

5. Digital Storytelling On-Site PD Workshop; Digital Storytelling Websites; Teacher Collaboration; Ongoing Mentoring a. Initial 3-Hour Training – During Staff-Development Day

b. Initial 3-Hour Training; Lesson Plans; Ongoing Mentoring; Ongoing Online Collaboration

No cost or Substitute Req.; On-Site Computer Lab; Projector; Internet Access; Facilitated by Technology Coordinator, Staff Member, Parent or Community Volunteer HIGH

Increases Student Engagement; Authentic Learning Experiences

Websites – Digital Learning Culture

  • 5 Internet Sites (with a description) that inform how technology can help provide a rigorous, relevant, and engaging learning environment.
Internet Site Description
1.    WebQuests – The Making of A Good Journey This internet site explains how to incorporate WebQuests into the classroom. Designed to engage students in Internet-based tasks that require higher-order thinking skills, WebQuests can range from a simple one class period activity to an extended group project that can take all semester. You can create your own using a template or visit one of the many sites that have teacher-created WebQuests ready for your use.
2.    9 insightful videos about using SMART Boards in the Classroom This internet site provides clear instruction on how to set up and get started using SMART Boards. If you’ve never heard of them, or if you’re looking for information about what one can do for your classroom, this article and its accompanying videos should help. When it comes to SMART Boards, seeing these demonstrations may be the best way to realize their potential usefulness in the classroom.
3.    7 Fun Ways to Use Technology in the Classroom to Enrich Learning This internet site briefly describes seven ways to enrich learning experiences with technology integration.
4.    The Center for Implementing Technology in Education This internet site offers a wealth of resources for implementing technology in the classroom. Specific sites for teachers and administrators answer questions about improving classroom practice with evidence-based strategies and also provide information regarding legal and safety issues to be aware of when planning for technology integration in the classroom.
5.    The Wired Classroom This internet site explains what a wired classroom is and what it looks like operationally. This site answers basic questions about computer integration, from classroom equipment needs and layout to effective instructional practices using computers.

Readings – Digital Learning Culture

  • 5 Readings (with summary) that address how technology can help provide a rigorous, relevant, and engaging learning environment.
Article/Manuscript Summary
DelaRosa, R. (2007). Incorporating digital devices into a reluctant campus. California English, 12(5), 10-11. This reading encourages schools to incorporate digital devices into the classroom. It describes the typically discouraging attitude of school districts towards the use of personal technologies, such as cell phones and social networking sites, at school sites. Public schools are urged to explore the benefits of utilizing these tools and to take advantage of using digital devices in the classroom.
Herrington, J., & Kervin, L. (2007). Authentic learning supported by technology: Ten suggestions and cases of integration in classrooms. Educational Media International, 44(3), 219-236. In this reading, authors argue that technology presents the opportunity to utilize powerful cognitive tools that can be used by students to solve complex and authentic problems. For this to occur, students, not teachers, need to regularly, meaningfully, and purposefully engage with technology. Ten ways of using technology effectively and meaningfully in the classroom are presented.
Pellegrino, JW., & Quellmalz., E. (2010). Perspectives on integration of technology and assessment. Journal on Research of Technology in Education, 43(2), 119-134. This reading takes a look at the importance of assessment in the classroom and how technology can be used to improve it. By giving immediate feedback, technology can help improve learning in the classroom. It also discusses how technology can help with assessment on different levels. Not only summative and formative, but across standards and benchmarks to create a more conducive learning environment. The article also enforces the idea of creating “authentic” learning tasks that they believe help with higher order thinking. It asserts that the new era of assessment is learning-centered. Technology improves the quality of tasks presented to students.
Rodrigo, R. (2011). Mobile teaching versus mobile learning. EDUCAUSE Quarterly, 34(1), 2-2. This reading asserts that successful learning includes active, engaging experiences which simulate the real world. Research also supports increased learning when students engage the content using multiple senses. So, why is education limiting students’ technological “learning” to text-heavy, static copies of digital textbooks? With multimedia materials available through smart phones, students have access to “soundtracks, animations, and videos” to go beyond content delivery to transformative technology. While education is making huge strides to integrate technology into education, there are growth opportunities as we “capture raw material from the real world and engage with it based on the concepts we are teaching them.”
U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Technology. (2010). Transforming American Education: Learning Powered by Technology: National Education Technology Plan. This reading details a technology plan which calls for using technologies already prevalent in our personal and professional lives to transform public education by improving student learning, scaling best practices, and using data for continuous improvement. The plan outlines a vision “to leverage the learning sciences and modern technology to create engaging, relevant, and personalized learning experiences for all learners that mirror students’ daily lives and the reality of their futures. In contrast to traditional classroom instruction, this requires that we put students at the center and empower them to take control of their own learning by providing flexibility on several dimensions.” The plan also calls for “connected teaching,” in which educators connect to “resources and expertise that improve their own instructional practices and guide them in becoming facilitators and collaborators in their students’ increasingly self-directed learning.”