Sunday, February 7, 2010

How do we know if it results in learning?

Van Meter is a 1:1(one computer for every one child) district in grades 7-12. One of the questions I get asked frequently is, "How do you know if all those computers are impacting student achievement?" My response to this question has undergone a transformation. I use to care about showing the difference the computer themselves make to a student's learning.

But then I got to thinking... Van Meter's Vision is about teaching kids to Think, Lead, and Serve. It's about helping kids find their passion. Our vision says nothing about making sure kids are using their laptops. After all, the laptop initiative is currently affecting only half of the kids in our district. What are we saying to kids, teachers, and parents in grades K-6 if our assessment system focused on the impact of the 1:1 initiative?

Instead, Van Meter Schools is focusing on the impact of teaching and learning in all grades K-12. Technology is a way of life for our students. We encourage teachers to integrate a variety of tools in their instruction to help engage learners and make connections. Thanks to many conversations with John Nash at Iowa State University, I was able to talk through an assessment system that shows the value of learning as assessed by performance and product-based assessments rather than just paper-pencil test scores.

Here's a quick list data that we plan on using to gauge the success of teaching and learning at Van Meter:

  • Behavior data
  • Attendance rates
  • Graduation rates
  • Achievement scores (writing, reading, math and science)
  • Technology literacy* (NETS rubric)
  • Student perception*
  • Parent perception*
  • 1 and 5 year post VM – Graduate survey*
  • Administrator Walk-throughs (aligned to Iowa Core Curriculum - Characteristics of Effective Instruction)
  • Instructional Practice Inventory – Jerry Valentine work
  • Administrator reflections
  • Teacher reflections
  • Student examples
  • Student and Teacher digital portfolios*
*action item, not yet fully implemented

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