Software helps teachers help students

By Nancy Gutierrez

The barrage of tests students take on in a year does not only affect students but teachers as well. State tests, district benchmark assessments and individual classroom tests must all be graded, and analyzed to find out how individual students are progressing and where they need help.

Teachers in the Lindsay Unified School District have a new system to aid them in compiling data on students.

Edusoft is a web-based student assessment platform that helps school districts, teachers and parents track student performance across three kinds of tests - state exams, district benchmarks, and classroom tests.

"Teachers can look at results for kids enrolled in their classes," said Director of Research Evaluation and Assessments Jim Grasell. "It also allows them to create tests, grade them and track students."

In a training session on Aug. 6, new teachers learned all about the program LUSD has been utilizing for one year. Teachers can download a series of reports on single students or groups of students which contain the results of state administered tests. Teachers can create a demographic report which displays a comparative breakdown of student test results by grade, gender, ethnicity and educational program. Administrators can group student reports and compare the overall scores in a skill area, subject area or standard and sub-standard. The same can be done for individual students.

"This program also allows them to create tests, grade them and track on the teachers level," Grasell said.

The three levels of testing, state, district and classroom can be compared and analyzed, and teachers can create class tests to follow state standards.

"[Edusoft] has banks of questions that are aligned to state standards. If they wanted to create a fourth grade math test they can build it at the appropriate grade level," Grasell said.

Teachers can utilize Edusoft to see how their new students have been doing not just in subjects like math or English but in specific areas within those standards like writing, or comprehension.

"This shows the teachers where a student is proficient where they are below basic," Grasell said.

Teachers no longer have to wait for reports from the district they can access all of this information from their classroom computer. Teachers can then focus on specific areas for each student. Test scores from different years can also be compared to see if students are improving or declining in proficiency as they move through grades.

Teachers can also share instructional designs with cohorts. Essentially all of the math teachers in a grade level could use the same assessment created on the Edusoft site specifically for students in a particular school site.

"The idea is to focus on targeting intervention to kids that need it," Grasell said. "If a student is struggling teachers need to know where, with information and organization."

Edusoft was founded in 2000 by Dan Yates and Jay Kimmelman. The company hired a team of professionals with deep experience in education and in Web-based software including Pat Keegan, the previous deputy superintendent of the state of California. Under Keegan's guidance, Edusoft has built relationships with more than 150 public school districts in only two years.

Edusoft has forged partnerships with numerous education organizations, including WestEd, a non-profit, education research, development, and service agency.

Districts pay a yearly licensing fee, as well as a data integration fee for state tests and roster information.

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