Tech Tool Integrates Data System to Improve Teacher Effectiveness

A new patent-pending technology from Wireless Generation strives to streamline how teachers evaluate student performance and tailor lessons to students’ learning needs. The technology applies a sophisticated algorithm that analyzes assessment data on students’ learning progress to generate sequences of lessons for each student throughout the school year. Burst:Reading is the first offering built on this technology. During an initial evaluation in a large urban school district, teachers used Burst:Reading for 10 weeks with students who were struggling most to master early reading skills. These students achieved gains 41% to 50% greater in the areas of phonemic awareness and phonics than students who were taught using other instructional materials.

At both the local and national levels, policymakers are rightfully fixated on data systems’ importance to teacher quality. Most recently, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act calls on states to develop data systems to improve teacher effectiveness. To receive a share of the act’s $54 billion stabilization fund, governors must demonstrate a commitment to developing a statewide data system that allows schools to track each student’s academic progress. At the local level, the Achievement Reporting and Innovation System (ARIS) became available to all New York City classroom teachers in November. ARIS is designed to expand educators’ access to information from Department of Education computer systems, to enable educators to better diagnose students’ needs and measure student success.

Data systems are only one area where Web 2.0 tools can be utilized to improve teacher effectiveness. The SMHC Case Studies show that technology is integral to developing effective educators, and that successful urban districts use technology to automate the teacher application, review, and selection process.

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