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Student iPad data directs Mineola teachers

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Posted: Thursday, September 22, 2016 10:29 am

Data collected from students’ iPads in Mineola schools helps teachers give them the support they need as they prepare for larger tests, administrators said last week.

By showing where students need improvement, state test scores and other data inform changes that help fill gaps in the curriculum, said Janet Gonzalez, principal of the Jackson Avenue School.

“If we focus on specific parts of our curriculum, we see the growth there,” Gonzalez told the Mineola school board last Thursday.

School administrators couple the state English and math tests, given to third- through eighth-graders each spring, with the Northwest Evaluation Association exam, given to all students twice a year to set benchmarks and goals, administrators said.

Between testing sessions, teachers get data on a daily basis from iPad apps used in class, such as School 4 One, which teachers use to make assignments and give feedback to students. Mineola Middle School teachers collected more than 1,100 data points in one week last March, said the principal, Andrew Casale.

Middle school teachers will work in groups this year to find patterns in that daily data and tailor lesson plans to what specific groups of students need to learn or relearn, said Amy Trojanowski, the middle school’s assistant principal.

“If we marry that data with more state assessments like NWEA, as well as the state assessments, at the end of the year, we can track our students’ progress throughout the course of the year,” Trojanowski said. “So this disaggregation of data and trend analysis is really going to allow us to provide targeted and differentiated instruction for all of our students.”

While third- and fourth-grade passing rates for the state English test grew, state tests and app data indicate there is room for improvement in Jackson Avenue’s writing program, Gonzalez said. That has led the school to hire writing specialists and incorporate a writing intervention program into student schedules, she said.

At the same time, data from an app called eSpark shows students’ skills grow faster when they work toward goals they set, and that more students do exercises above their grade level by the end of the year, Gonzalez said.

Because their kindergartners through second-graders showed similar strengths and weaknesses on the NWEA reading test, teachers at the Hampton Avenue and Meadow Drive Schools will collaborate to “strengthen what we need to do in both buildings,” said the Meadow Drive principal, SueCaryl Fleischman.

All four schools also use digital “badges” in the KidOYO app to foster attitudes of social awareness in students and emphasize the importance of community service in suport of the district’s mission, administrators said.

The data Mineola schools collect throughout the year provides more concrete evidence of trends that administrators can act on, said the school board president, Christine Napolitano.

“You don’t want to collect data just for data’s sake, but now technology affords us that opportunity to really dig down into numbers and information that we get and see if we can do things differently,” Napolitano said.

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