Blog

  • Navvy Standard-by-Standard Diagnostic Assessment System

    Illustration: child looking through telescope

    Navvy is a student-friendly and technology-savvy classroom assessment system that provides short, standard-by-standard assessments that are embedded in classroom practice. The assessments are available on-demand and used as needed to provide realtime results to inform personalized learning.  

    Read more
  • Your students can benefit from Smarthinking’s audio and video-enabled sessions

    Illustration of virtual instruction on a computer

    Face‑to‑face interaction is the best way for some students to engage with tutors and master their work. Smarthinking provides audio and video‑enabled sessions to assist learners who prefer the virtual tutoring experience to mirror on‑ground tutoring as closely as possible.

    Any student can book an audio/video session in the pre-scheduled session area of Smarthinking. ESL students and those who require accessibility accommodations will also benefit from these audio and video session capabilities.

    Like any Smarthinking tutoring session, our audio and video sessions are also fully archived for review. Students can practice classroom problems, tackle homework, or talk through a math problem face‑to‑face with tutors.  

    Learn more about the audio and video session experience   

    Get to know smarthinking.com  

    Read more
  • Personalize learning with standard-by-standard classroom assessment system

    Illustration: child looking through telescope

    A new way to assess learning

    Accurate standards-level feedback is a must-have for instructional relevance, but you know how zooming in too far on a picture can make it all fuzzy? Same goes for typical tests school districts use. They are designed to give feedback at the grade- or domain-level feedback, so when they try to give more specific feedback on standards, the standards-level information gets all fuzzy. Navvy found a way to clear it up! Navvy is designed to provide clear standards-level feedback with validity and reliability using a novel design and cutting-edge data science.

    Key features support learning

    Navvy informs teaching and guides learning by accurately and specifically identifying what students have learned and where they need more support.  

    Read more
  • Assessment for Learning: A Whole Child Approach to Teaching

    Illustration of open book with people and mountain scene on top of it.

    Assessments of learning are a vital part of the learning process. Without tools like tests and quizzes to measure student progress, teachers’ ability to understand where students are instructionally during the course of a school year is severely diminished.

    What if teachers had an assessment tool that allowed them to evaluate student progress while a student is learning, and to inform their teaching practices and family communication going forward? This is known as assessment for learning.

    Effective classroom assessments show how a student is doing, but an “assessment for learning” approach helps identify ways for teachers and parents to point a student in the right direction to succeed.

    According to Jeffrey Hauger, Director of Educator Engagement, incorporating assessment for learning tools provides a comprehensive and cohesive system that is well aligned to instruction and takes the whole child into consideration — not just their academic knowledge.

    “It goes beyond the progress check,” Hauger explains. “It answers the question of ‘what now?’ after educators get assessment results. It incorporates universal screeners and the social-emotional learning components that impact achievement. Once you are asking 'what now?' you are looking at components of learning that help teachers get to where they want to be instructionally."

    Looking beyond academics

    How would a system combining both assessment of learning and assessment for learning work in your school or district?

    Hauger gives the example of an elementary school classroom where a teacher needs to evaluate reading comprehension. A traditional progress check shows if students are performing at grade level, while assessment for learning tools like universal screeners dig a bit deeper to identify possible causes of a reading deficit.

    "A universal screener is a little more in depth than an interim assessment that's measuring all the standards,” Hauger explains. “If the student scored low in reading, the screener would pick that up. That would be something the teacher would want to look at and perhaps provide the student with more opportunities to work on reading comprehension."

    Hauger recommends adding assessments for learning to an overall evaluation to help teachers and school districts close equity gaps for at-risk students.

    "We know the academic components of learning, but there are also the social-emotional aspects," Hauger continues. "It’s important to use assessments that explain what issues the student is facing that could be preventing them from reaching their academic potential. Assessments for learning really help show where more targeted supports for the student can help."

    Seeing the full narrative

    With time already at a premium, assessments for learning can be difficult for overscheduled teachers to consider, but effective assessment platforms will incorporate them into comprehensive toolkits that enable a whole-child approach. These toolkits allow teachers to build an overall growth model with individualized pictures of how students are progressing and why, as well as ways to improve.

    "If you have a system that considers the different pieces, then the results give you a narrative and you don't have to fill in the puzzle to analyze it," Hauger says. "It will show you these are all related, so you can easily see the student's weaknesses and strengths."

    For example, if during an online assessment the system recognizes a third-grade student isn’t at grade level, modern platforms can adapt questions to meet the student where they are in their learning and notify the teacher about precisely where the gaps are.

    Another advantage of incorporating assessment for learning into a comprehensive system is that it results in better communication with parents and caregivers. "You can use technology to explain in layman’s terms what these reports are telling you about your student," Hauger adds.

    "More importantly, these days you can send results in multiple languages which leads to more parent engagement. Effective platforms help districts get information out to parents so they have a better understanding of how their student is doing.”

    Greater insights into “what now?”

    Hauger believes that as more districts activate the assessment for learning tools in the online platforms they use, they will be amazed by the increased insights they have at those "what now?" moments.

    "You'll see more and more of this comprehensive approach that uses different information to look at students — not only on the level of academic standards,” he explains. “They’re going to have confidence in personalized approaches that meet students where they are. Assessment for learning drives insights about the whole student, and it does it when it’s timely so teachers can use that insight to adjust and connect with their students."

    Ready to elevate your assessment strategy? Let’s connect.  

    Read more
  • Closing the communication gap between parents and teachers with transparent data

    Illustration of person at laptop

    You’ve most likely experienced a scenario where a students’ math assessment results did not reflect their math grade. In a traditional parent-teacher conference, the bulk of the meeting would involve the teacher outlining that contradiction, and more often than not, the parents are seeing the assessment results for the first time. This leaves the parent and teacher with limited time to explore why the child is facing difficulties and how to work together to help the student improve.

    Emerging technology can help make those parent-teacher conferences more impactful by communicating critical information to the parent in advance. That time can now be spent focusing on holistically supporting the child.

    “That’s among the goals of software that blends effective communication with K-12 assessment platforms,” explains Michael Fee, Vice President of Business Development for Spotlight Reporting at Pearson. “Technology can activate a school’s hidden superpower — an engaged family armed withpersonalized insights about their child.”

    Personalization at scale

    Spotlight’s Video Reporting TechnologyTM was designed to bridge three resources in K-12 school buildings: teachers’ commitment to communicating with family, parents’ desire to be more engaged in their child’s learning, and the wealth of data bottled up in assessment systems.

    “We saw this problem in education where we don’t communicate data in a way that a lot of people can use,” Fee continues. “Teachers have been using their own initiative and effort, but it wasn’t easy to give personalized and holistic pictures of where a student stands.”

    Spotlight, founded in 2012 by Fee and his colleagues and acquired by Pearson in 2021, converts assessment data into personalized, easy-to-understand videos, infographics, and written reports for families and caregivers in over 30 languages. For example, the state of California has begun to communicate test results through Spotlight’s mobile video reporting in a host of languages, including Vietnamese and Tagalog.

    This customized communication also highlights resources and activities most beneficial for each student’s needs. “The amount of online learning resources can be overwhelming,” adds Fee. “However, Spotlight’s technology can sift through those resources and prioritize the recommendations based on a student’s specific data.”

    In theory, teachers could build individual reports for each student, but the process would be arduous and time consuming, taking valuable time away from instruction. “Instead,” Fee shares, “software can ingest data from a variety of sources and identify areas of confirmation or contradiction. It makes the same recommendations an expert would because we consult with district or state leaders on what should be prescribed. But the software does it a million times over in very short order.”

    The result is more transparency for families and caregivers who are eager to engage and collaborate with their schools and support improved learning outcomes, regardless of background or the language spoken at home.

    Communication that accelerates learning

    In the above scenario, with a gap between test results and classroom assignments, the existing software might highlight that contradiction for the teacher or building leader. However, software like Spotlight’s can outline that contradiction for the parent, point to some preliminary resources, and suggest they meet with their student’s teacher to make sure the student is appropriately challenged by class work. The video or written report is delivered through the existing parent communication portal.

    “The teachers don’t have to take any extra steps,” Fee states. “The parent simply accesses that data by clicking on a link. They’re told a story they can act on: ‘Here’s how your student is doing, here’s what you should really pay attention to, and here’s how you can support your student.’”

    Internal surveys conducted by Spotlight show that families receiving this communication better understand what their child is doing in school and can more confidently speak with their child’s teacher.

    Read more
  • Pearson Acquires Navvy Education’s Innovative Classroom Assessment System

    Illustration of people watching sunrise

    Navigate the learning journey with confidence!

    The disruption in student learning caused by COVID-19 and the ongoing challenges faced by schools and districts have inspired us to double down on our commitment to provide classroom assessments that offer more useful and reliable information to students, families, and educators.

    One significant step we’ve taken is the acquisition of Navvy Education which includes a diagnostic classroom assessment system that uses a unique design to pinpoint student needs on individual standards. Navvy’s technology is helping teachers and students navigate learning by providing an accurate, detailed, and real-time picture of student progress. Its reporting furnishes actionable data not provided by typical formative, interim, or summative assessments.

    Save time and guide learning with accurate results.

    In short, Navvy’s design gives teachers the ability to assess students for standard competencies right after instruction rather than weeks (or even months) later. Student results reflect their “Competency/Needs Support” status for individual academic standards, allowing the teacher to tailor instruction for the students who need further learning before moving on to the next concept.

    Classroom formative assessment is a key component of a balanced assessment system, providing information that guides teachers in their planning. However, the quality of teacher decisions is only as good as the quality of the assessment data from which those decisions are based. This is where Navvy is different. Navvy includes rigorous assessment content, a unique assessment design, and a sophisticated psychometric model for improved reliability and utility of results.

    Navvy’s design is based on three key principles:

    • Results must be accurate
    • Results must be actionable
    • Results must be immediate

    Founded in 2017 by Dr. Laine Bradshaw, Navvy was created by Dr. Bradshaw and her team in close collaboration with educators and district leaders. Navvy’s innovative approach is supported by Dr. Bradshaw’s research as an associate professor of Quantitative Methodology in Educational Psychology at the University of Georgia.

    “We designed Navvy to provide a new approach to assessment that informs personalized learning in the classroom on a regular basis. We’re excited to continue and expand this work as a part of Pearson. As we reimagine the important role assessments play in a learner’s academic journey, we’ve moved away from traditional accountability measures and are focusing on the student to promote healthy learning mindsets and provide educators with the data-driven tools needed to accelerate learning.”

        – Dr. Laine Bradshaw, Founder of Navvy

    By marrying the technical quality of Navvy’s assessment system with Pearson’s longstanding ability to deliver assessments to millions of students, we are ready to provide states and districts across the nation with a solution that works.

    “As learning experiences continue to evolve, we’re prepared to forge new trails of innovation and meet these new challenges and opportunities. By investing in new and existing services to better assess and communicate about learning progress, we’re also investing in the potential of every student.”

        – Trent Workman, Senior Vice President School Assessments

    This addition to our assessment portfolio has great potential to help K–12 districts make better decisions when instructional time is at a premium and get a full picture of each student’s learning progress. We are excited to join forces with Dr. Bradshaw and her team and to add Navvy’s technology to our leading portfolio of assessment services!
     

    Read more
  • Take a customizable approach to power equitable student achievement

    by Published by K-12 Dive

    Illustration of students at laptop computers

    While the 2020-21 school year was a case study in building the airplane while flying it, 2021-22 is shaping up to offer its own challenges. This is because the effects of the pandemic on student achievement have produced a classroom of learners who are less unified than ever. Some excelled in the virtual environment, while others began the year with a larger unfinished learning gap than expected.

    This disparity has led to equity differences among learners in the same cohort, along with difficulty in identifying which interventions are needed on an individual basis. While interim assessments are often used to help identify and shore up learners' needs, this year's exceptional circumstances suggest that a more personalized approach might be necessary. "Educators today need assessments to address the wide variances in student knowledge," said Jeff Hauger, director of Transcend Assessment System. A new type of interim assessment, Transcend, can better allow educators to meet students where they are through its flexible, customized interface that aids in the equitable recovery of unfinished learning.

    Benefits of interim assessments

    Most schools understand the value of interim assessments, but they are particularly important in today's environment; the way districts use them since the pandemic began has changed, Hauger said.

    Previously, most teachers considered them checkpoints to see how students grew throughout the year and as a measure to predict performance on the state summative assessment. "Currently the issue is not whether students are on level to be proficient, but about understanding instructional learning gaps to identify where students would benefit from additional support," Hauger explained. While instructors will still be measuring growth throughout the year, it's vital to identify where students are now to offer them the assistance they need to fill the void and address unfinished learning in specific areas.

    Limitations of conventional assessments

    Not all assessments are created equal, and some existing tools might not adequately address current learning gaps. Transcend, however, offers a number of unique benefits that make it particularly suited to today's instructional realities.

    First, the test is customized to state standards and personalized to the scope and sequence of each district. In the past, districts have noted that assessments aren't aligned to their local curriculum, which means the results wouldn't necessarily paint the picture they need."Transcend has developed an intelligent test blueprint that's aligned to districts' scope and sequence, each of which may be different," Hauger said. "Districts have the opportunity to work with Transcend to ensure the test items are aligned to their instruction and curriculum. "The very nature of the test also supports equitable standards. As an adaptive assessment, it automatically adjusts difficulty levels, which minimizes test anxiety and meets students where they are instructionally.

    Furthermore, the test is tightly aligned to instruction and only includes concepts that students have already learned. Teachers will no longer have to wonder if a student got an answer wrong because they hadn't yet been instructed on it or if it was because they hadn't adequately mastered the subject matter. "Students have the opportunity to show exactly what their skills are, which is important since we know decisions are made based on these assessments," Hauger said. "Transcend meets a need in the market through its design that makes it high touch at scale and ensures reliable, valid and fair results. "Transcend is also designed to be inclusive and accessible to all students, offering accommodations like color contrast, magnification and text-to-speech.

    The importance of timely reporting with actionable insights

    The value of any test lies in its ability to help students get to the next level, and that's where Transcend excels by offering concrete information on where students are in their personal learning journey. "Robust reporting is critical because it's the conduit from the assessment to the teacher to the type of instruction that needs to happen next," Hauger said.

    Dynamic reports allow a district official or educator to make inferences based on different granularities. So, a teacher could look at their entire class or individual students through an item mapping report that shows each question, the standard associated with it, the student's response and the difficulty of the item. With one click, they can view results by different metrics, such as standard or difficulty, to add more complexity to the interpretation.

    These reports allow educators to discern, for example, whether a student understands the concept at the baseline and merely stumbled as questions became increasingly difficult or if they haven't mastered it even at a rudimentary level, given that they missed all the related questions.

    Results are available within 24 hours, so educators can take the learnings and directly apply them to interventions to begin to course correct. "Insights gleaned through Transcend can help uncover student learning gaps," Hauger said.

    Read more