By Dennis Pierce
Project RED, a major research project that has been studying digital learning initiatives for seven years, has issued its latest findings describing which education technology strategies have proven most effective in moving the needle on student learning—and the most important factor seems to be the effective use of formative assessment data to drive instruction, the project’s directors say.
The project is a research partnership between the Greaves Group and the nonprofit One-to-One Institute, with additional support from the University of Memphis Center for Research in Educational Policy. The project has been studying the learning outcomes in K-12 districts that have made significant investments in technology, such as supplying a device for every student, to see which implementation factors have resulted in the most success.
Aside from formative assessment, other key success factors include a focus on change leadership, strong communication, fidelity of implementation, and ongoing professional development. Here is some specific advice based on the project’s findings:
Instruction, Pedagogy, and Assessment
Regarding formative assessment, Project RED notes that technology can help teachers quickly and more frequently assess whether their students have understood a lesson. Rather than waiting until an end-of-unit exam to realize that some students haven’t mastered the material, teachers can see in the moment how well their students grasp a concept—giving them opportunities to target their instruction and personalize learning much more effectively.
But having tools that make data-driven instruction and assessment easier for teachers—such as using tools that combine instruction, assessment, and data management into a single, easy-to-use platform—is essential for this strategy to work. In an independent survey of teachers and administrators commissioned by PowerSchool, 97% said using disparate technology solutions is a key barrier that affects how successful educators are in the classroom.
“The easier it is to access real-time information related to student performance, the easier it is to improve instruction and learning outcomes,” said Kecia Ray, executive director of the Center of Digital Education.
That’s the thinking behind PowerSchool’s Unified Classroom solution, which gives teachers a 360-degree view of their students’ progress—as well as a single learning and assessment platform to help them personalize instruction. You can learn how this unified solution empowers teachers to be more successful here.
The former editor in chief of eSchool News, Dennis Pierce is now a freelance writer covering education and technology. He has been following the EdTech space for nearly 19 years.
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