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

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    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.

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  • Pearson Acquires Navvy Education’s Innovative Classroom Assessment System

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    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!

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  • Learn how personalized video contributes to equity in student and caregiver communication

    by Published by K-12 Dive

    Illustration of a kid riding a bike

    What if your school district had the resources to send a teacher or counselor to personally meet with the family of each student to discuss their academic progress? They'd sit down to review the data, focusing on key takeaways and helping families find additional, targeted resources — all in the family's home language, no less. While that's the dream, it's no secret educators are stretched like never before, which can put this aspirational level of high-touch service outside the realm of possibility.

    Unless technology steps in to help. As educators work tirelessly to quantify and fill learning gaps caused by the pandemic, personalized video can play a key role in promoting equity in communication and advancing learning goals.

    "Increasingly, people are turning to their mobile phones for information, and if we want to reach families who have been traditionally neglected by conventional information sources, we've got to do a better job of using mobile-friendly video," said Michael Fee, co-founder of Pearson’s Spotlight Education. Spotlight is a video tool that fosters communication and engagement between school educators and caregivers, without adding an extra layer of work to teachers’ already brimming plates.

    Here's what schools need to know about using video to personalize communication to support learning goals.

    The power of personalized video in family communication

    While communicating with families and caregivers is a vital part of student success, the most recent Parent and Family Involvement in Education survey found that only 66% of respondents said they had received an email or note specifically about their K-12 student, and only 40% had received aphone call. What's striking is that video, an increasingly common form of communication, wasn't involved in the survey at all.

    Video consumption is on the rise, with 68% of consumers in a recent survey saying the pandemic affected how much video content they watched online, and 96% saying it had increased. For schools, personalized video can be a compelling way to contextualize and personalize data, interpreting it so parents can better understand their child’s progress.

    One of the most notable aspects of the Spotlight platform is that it translates videos into the student's home language to better involve caregivers. The need is great; according to the National Center for Education Statistics, roughly 10% — or 5 million students nationwide — were English-language learners in the fall of 2018, and states including California and Texas had significantly higher percentages at 19.4% and 18.7%, respectively.

    "While caregiver engagement is a fundamental piece of ensuring students' academic progress, we know that parents from different backgrounds access and understand traditional forms of information differently, which might hamper their ability to understand a score report," Fee said.

    "Spotlight is flipping the script on this by providing information in their home language by a native-speaking voice actor so it's very approachable and friendly. We've realized it's incredibly powerful since many families are not used to connecting with someone in their home language."

    The role of personalized video in enhancing the learning experience

    Unlike a static report, a video summary provides contextualizing details to help identify learning gaps and offer tools and support. It delivers what Fee describes as the "what," "the so what" and the "now what."

    A typical video after a state test might give a brief background on the goals of the test; explain the child's score in relation to other students in the state, district and/or school; show a sample problem; and offer a summary of how the student has progressed from the previous year (if that data is available). It concludes by summarizing the concepts where the student was particularly strong and offers suggestions for support that would help them achieve even greater success. The student's name is populated throughout the video.

    While video reporting can boost understanding, it provides another key element that helps build bridges between schools and families: "Video lets us deliver information with a tone and sentiment you can't capture with the written word," Fee said. "So even if the parent receives information that might seem discouraging, we can help them understand why they should still feel confident and arm them with information and resources so they can address issues."

    "That's because the focus is on the insights, he said. "It's not just, 'here's the information,' but instead, it's, 'here's what you should care about,' and then we give the families agency by showing them what they can do with that information to support the student."

    Best practices for effective videos that underscore equity

    Using Spotlight's platform allows schools to take a medium that's comfortable to most families and make it easier for teachers to disseminate. The service can mass-produce hundreds of thousands of unique videos in a day, each specifically targeted to an individual student based on their background and needs.

    "Yes, teachers could sit down and record separate videos and send them to parents, but the time burden would be heavy to be familiar with all the data, and it wouldn't necessarily reach them in their home language," Fee said. "This technology supports teachers by doing the heavy lifting so they can focus on what they're really good at, which is putting that data to work in the classroom."

    As Spotlight was developed, Fee sought parent input to ensure the videos delivered the necessary information in the right way. To make the videos most effective, he recommends districts avoid jargon that challenges those outside the educational community. For example, while "growth" is widely used in education, the term is largely meaningless to many parents.

    He also suggests districts share only the most critical background information and then move on to individualized reporting so parents immediately see the relevance to them. That doesn't mean videos have to be short, however. But they should include personalization elements throughout, to retain caregivers' attention. "It turns out, when you're watching something about your kid, you'll watch all day long," Fee said, adding that 90% of parents who have received videos approved of the duration, which is typically five to seven minutes.

    The videos are most engaging when multiple measures are used to convey the information, such as rich animation, charts and graphs, the native-spoken voice-over, and closed captioning.Providing videos to family members comes with a lot of responsibility, Fee cautioned. "We have to choose our language very carefully to ensure parents come away from these videos feeling encouraged, supported and confident, rather than fearful. We can do that uniquely with this technology."

    To Fee, the use of video just makes sense. "We shouldn't expect parents to jump through hoops to find out how their kids are doing in school or how they did on a test. We should give them the data they need in a format that's engaging and understandable to them."

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