Leverage Data Tools to Prepare Students for College and Careers

By Jean Sharp, Vice President of Content Development

Districts and schools across the country have made it a core focus to equip students with the 21st century skills they’ll need to achieve success after high school. But every student is different, mastering content in different ways and at different paces. To ensure that every student learns what they need to be successful and graduates prepared for the future, classroom teachers must personalize instruction to meet the needs of all students.

This personalization isn’t possible at scale without access to an effective, flexible digital curriculum program that’s tailored for students’ specific learning needs and life circumstances. Effective digital curriculum should also equip teachers with robust data they can leverage to personalize instruction and prepare students for higher education and the workforce. Data tools should inform teachers about what students know, what they need to master, and how to provide appropriate intervention and support to struggling students to close learning gaps.

College and Career-Ready — or Not

There has been a significant shift in the need and the desire for classroom teachers to personalize instruction to better meet the needs of all students and adequately prepare them for the next step in their education or careers.

Though high school graduation rates are improving, a high school diploma is no longer proof that a student is well-prepared for college or career training. There’s a gap between high school graduation requirements and college prerequisite skills. For example, the percentage of graduating seniors who demonstrated college readiness based on their composite ACT scores was just 20.8 percent in 2016. This gap no doubt contributes to the large number of incoming freshman who must take remedial college math or ELA classes — or both — before enrolling in and successfully completing college-level courses.

The challenge to bridge learning gaps and prepare students for college and career lands on the shoulders of classroom teachers. A typical high school teacher might teach multiple classes per day with as many as 30 students in each class. These 30 students have different backgrounds, different foundational skill sets, and different learning styles that must be addressed.

Yet, teachers have a fixed amount of content to teach in a fixed amount of time; therefore, all of these students, despite their differences, must progress through curriculum at the same pace. The result: Students who are capable of accelerating become bored and stop achieving to their potential, and students who need more time to master content aren’t given the time they need, creating learning gaps that will only become more pronounced as they move on to higher-level courses.  

An At-Scale Solution

Digital curriculum is an effective option to personalize instruction for all students —from those who are struggling to those who are capable of accelerating their learning.  Digital curriculum also provides the data and reporting tools critical for teachers to better support every student. This emphasis on data for driving instruction and intervention decisions will only become stronger as educators turn to blended and online learning solutions to support individual student achievement and improve district academic outcomes.

Effective digital curriculum includes access to robust data tools educators can tap to guide their instructional practices to ensure students graduate college and career-ready. Apex Learning digital curriculum includes a flexible, web-based reporting system that provides all stakeholders — administrators, teachers, mentors, parents, and even students — with real-time data related to students’ progress and performance.

Apex Learning data tools include:

  1. Actionable Data and Reports
    Teachers have access to real-time data to help them understand how students are progressing, evaluate their work and provide timely intervention. Teachers receive alerts that identify issues they need to discuss or review with a student or groups of students, creating the opportunity for one-on-one engagement and small group instruction.
    Any stakeholder in student success also can register to receive Weekly Progress Reports that provide high-level and detailed information regarding student progress and performance. This report offers a snapshot of student activity for the week: time spent in the course each day and history of time spent on individual activities.

  2. Formative Assessments
    Effective digital curriculum has periodic low-stakes assessments to check students’ understanding of content. Teachers can use the data gleaned from these assessments to create a personalized learning plan for every student that allows them to skip content they’ve already mastered while directing their learning time to the appropriate materials to fill skill gaps.

  3. Educator Dashboards
    Apex Learning’s intuitive dashboards allow administrators and teachers to monitor and analyze student, classroom, school, and district performance in real-time. Using the Classroom Overview, teachers are granted an at-a-glance summary of progress and performance data for every class they teach. A progress bar tracks those students who are at-pace with the curriculum, those who may be at-risk of falling behind, and those who need immediate assistance to get back on track.

  4. Grade Book
    The grade book centralizes classroom record-keeping and student management functions. Not only can teachers use the Grade Book to manage grades, assessments, and course calendars, but also to access detailed and summary-level data that monitors individual and classroom achievement.

  5. Student Dashboards
    This tool empowers students to track their own progress toward academic goals. Through ongoing interaction with course content and data, students are able to take responsibility for, and ownership of, their learning experience. By helping students to experience their own success, educators can build confidence and increase achievement.

 

Digital Curriculum Drives Data-Based Decision Making

The measure of effective curriculum is student achievement. Apex Learning digital curriculum is designed to help all students achieve to their full potential through a blend of effective curriculum and actionable data that facilitates personalized learning. This personalization ensures that students not only pass courses and exams, but also that they are prepared for the next steps after high school — whether that be college or a career. 

 

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