Educators have known for a long time that by identifying children who are struggling learners early, before the child is so far behind that a referral to special education services is warranted, they can help prevent a child from falling behind, thus reversing a “cycle of failure.” Children can be given a chance to grow into successful students. The fact of the matter is that Federal laws have directed schools to focus more on helping all children learn by addressing problems at an earlier age. These include the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and the Individuals With Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) of 2004. Both laws underscore the importance of providing high quality, scientifically-based instruction and interventions and hold schools accountable for the progress of all students in terms of meeting grade level standards.
In order to identify these students, educators have turned to the tools of Response to Intervention (RtI), Universal Screening, and Student Progress Monitoring.
- RtI is an array of procedures that can be used to determine if and how students respond to specific changes in instruction. It provides an improved process and structure, of identifying students in need for school teams in designing, implementing, and evaluating educational interventions.
- Universal Screening is a procedure of administering an academic screening test early in the school year to determine which students are “at risk” for not meeting grade level standards. Students whose test scores fall below a certain cut-off are identified as needing more specialized academic interventions.
- Student Progress Monitoring is the activity after Universal Screening has been completed, where the district frequently assesses students’ academic performance throughout the year.
Castle Learning Online allows educators, parents and even the student to monitor the student’s success in learning course content. Castle Learning provides an array of reports that can reveal how well a student understands a unit concept, whether he or she has the skills to complete a math assignment, or the grammatical tools to write. By using Castle Learning weekly, teachers can easily monitor student progress. By using this source at several key intervals during the year, they can evaluate a student, change the structure and process of delivering content, and help prevent a student from falling behind and spiraling down into a life of always being “at risk.”
Educators using Castle Learning Online, told me that screening and monitoring students has made a difference:
- A North Carolina educator, who uses eight content areas in developing assignments for her students, remarked that Castle Learning acts as a “diagnostic tool, targeting the weaknesses of students who must prepare for EOC (End-of-Course) and EOG (End-of-Grade) exams.”
- Another explained that more than 70 percent of her Algebra students passed the EOC in 2007-08, which she attributes to “instantaneous feedback, which opens up a dialogue with teachers for students to improve.”
- One educator stated that achievement levels of students improve after using Castle Learning and the result was that “100 percent of my students passed the Civics and Economics EOC.”
We educators are like sponges, absorbing the best that educational technology can offer to turn a corner and assure that every student can be successful. If it means adjusting our teaching styles based on solid data driven by key reports from Castle Learning Online, then we do so for the benefit of our students.