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Interview I Seeing the Whole Picture with Vantage Learning
Posted on October 27 2011
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Vantage Learning has continued to develop technology to create innovative, costefficient ways to address multiple challenges in education. In this interview, John P. Fallon, VP, Global Marketing at Vantage Technologies (pictured), discusses adaptive learning platforms, assessment in a digital age, the speed of change-and what needs to change-in this insightful discussion. Victor: We talked back in May. What's been happening since that time? Any new developments? John: Vantage has been working hard to really enhance our adaptive learning platforms, specifically our Student Progress Monitoring System or SPMS. Our focus has been to draw a much tighter correlation between assessment and learning. As a student moves through assessments, we can identify- down to the object level- where their weakness are and deliver immediate resources, thereby shortening the time between assessment and intervention.
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We have really been concentrating on adaptive learning environments, because we're focused on how all of our different resources work together and not just how an individual program functions. Whether it's a writing assessment or a math assessment, we can deliver resources at the time of the evaluation. Our solutions are able to give feedback to a student in the mode that he will respond to- whether it's a video, reading
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passage or practice activities- in order to address his specific weakness. It's a multimodal approach to learning. Victor: What's happening in the area of adaptive learning? John: It's clear that a one-size-fits-all approach just does not work in education. The adaptive nature of technology leads directly to individualizing learning. One of Vantage's goals is to tie assessment back to learning in order to reduce the time lag between identifying weaknesses and getting a student up to level. We've expanded the number of resources we provide and greatly enhanced our ability to deliver the resources from a variety of different areas. With our adaptive learning environments, students can take their assessment, get their resources based on their proficiency, get reassessed and continue this process until they get up on the level where they should be. This really helps teachers that are taxed with trying to individualize instruction for more and more students by ensuring relevant resources are delivered in a timely manner, leaving the teacher with more time to focus on the students. The ability to learn at their own pace and in unique ways will lead learners to further engagement and mastery of skills. Victor: How should assessment work in this digital age? John: Assessment can no longer be given incrementally without immediate intervention based on how the student performs. Assessment has to be a continuous process. It's not assess-done-assess-done. It's really got to be assessment-remediate-reassess as a continual process throughout each course. Now, with advances in technology, the ability is there to deliver resources based on assessment. The connection between assessment and learning must be present. With a summative assessment, it's just too late. Students cannot learn from their mistakes if there is no immediate remediation. Instead, they'll just fall further behind. Likewise, teachers cannot see what instructional practices are working without instant feedback. Real-time assessment and response to all parties are key in providing meaningful feedback to improve and link back to the learning process. Victor: How fast does change happen in a company your size? How do you respond to what customers need and want, and balance that with what you have to offer? John: Given that our solutions are essentially cloud-based, software as a service, we continuously make improvements. There is never a stagnant period in terms of how our products are positioned and how they meet the needs in the classroom. Through our professional development programs and constant interaction with teachers in the classroom, we're continuously working to add enhancements based on in-practice usage of the products. Our product marketing team and PD team are in constant contact with users of all types-various school designs, grade levels, regions, ethnicities, etc. to ensure maximum value for maximum return on the enhancements we make. We employ an evolutionary process as opposed to a staged one. From a technical standpoint, it is an
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agile development process which has proven very effective in ensuring enhancements or additions are implemented, quality-controlled and released in a timely manner. Victor: What is the current state of education in your view, in the last few years? John: There have been a number of improvements in the ability to make education better through technology and social networking, especially in terms of the ability students have in accessing information anytime, anywhere. However, we have a long way to go in terms of integrating technology into the classroom, working with teachers to harness the activities and allowing the educators to use the tools available to them. Students can be further ahead of the curve than teachers when it comes to using technology, but we're starting to see where teachers are involving students in the learning process to help take advantage of some of the opportunities that are available. Victor: What needs to change, and how is Vantage changing it? John: We need to get away from the status quo-scrap what we already know isn't working and move to things that are working. This comes back to adaptive environments and recognizing that each individual student is going to have unique needs. With the student to teacher ratio what it is across the country, we are trying to provide teachers with the resources to individualize instruction, whether it's enabling them to work better with a better understanding of individual needs or if it's in helping to deliver remediation to the students directly for self-learning. Of course, we are still making sure that the teacher is fully involved in what's going on and recognize what resources are working for which student, so as they move from student to student they individualize instruction, based on what the students responds to and does. Adaptive platforms aren't completely new, we have been building them since Vantage was founded, but, as I said, we are working to improve them so that they are able to provide more genuine learning moments for students. Take our flagship product, MY Access!. Each time a student writes, the feedback she receives from the program changes. As her writing improves, the feedback becomes more advanced so that the student is continuously learning and improving.
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doing in Victor: What is your outlook on the future of education and technology? John: I think the outlook looks great. Having recently participated the 21st Century Learning Symposium with the Los Angeles County Office of Education, as well as with districts across the country, it's apparent that schools and districts are really beginning to embrace technology and see its tremendous value. The education community understands the importance of preparing our students for success beyond high school, and how embracing technology can have a significant impact in readying individuals for the global market. Technology-charged educational experiences are going to have a momentous impact on our students' futures. Also, and perhaps more importantly, schools are also able to recognize that just purchasing a program isn't enough. Teachers need to learn how to integrate the technology into their teaching. And I'm not just talking about being trained on how to use programs, but really learn how to use them in the classroom and use the various resources to make them their own. Victor: What issues and challenges do you see on the near-term horizon? What makes you say that? John: I think the biggest issues are funding and the speed at which things happen in education. Schools have to sift through the various providers of technology and many seem almost gun-shy about what decision to make. They are afraid to make the wrong decision-and understandably so. Money is tight or nonexistent, so schools need to make sure they get it right. But, they need to recognize that they can't bring in technology piecemeal. They need to bring all of the components together so they can see the whole picture. Take writing, for example. Writing across the curriculum is proven to create improvement in all areas, so they need solutions that can help them connect the dots between writing performance, math performance and so on. Schools need solutions that work together to help them connect those dots. Accountability has become a scary word in the past few years, but it shouldn't be. With the right tools and support, everyone could take an equal piece of the accountability pieteachers, admins, parents and students.
Does your company haves remarkable founder?
Victor: Any interesting anecdotes that really tell the story of Vantage learning that might quirky or funny? John: Well, this is not a story, but it's definitely quirky. This song was written by Andrea Kittelson from the Glendale Unified School District in Glendale, California as part of her report at the
Victor: Great song! Gotta love that Harry Belafonte version, too! Anything else you think educators or industry people ought to know? Anything you want to add or emphasize? John: I applaud teachers and administrators that are embracing technology as a component of their instruction and encourage them to keep doing so. Greater exposure to advances in technology will not only ensure that students are college and career-ready, but it will also help students prepare to shape the global economy. Using technology will help enable self-learning and personalized learning, which will serve students well as they move through their academic and professional careers.
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Victor Rivero tells the story of eist-centuru education transformation. He is the editorin-chief of EdTech Digest, a magazine about education transformed through technology. He has written white papers, articles andfeaturesfor schools, nonprofits and companies in the education marketplace. Write to: email@example.com
Software Improves Middle And High School Reading and Writing Sk.ills
igh school literatur.e teachers are not typicaUy reading specialists, so . when the Pittsburgh Public School District needed to help its high school students improve their reading skills it needed to find an alternative solution. On top of that, most reading software is geared to the preK and elementary-level set. After some research, Carmelite Korbett, special programs coordinator for the district, discovered AutoSkilI's Academy of Reading. 'The Web-based version looks like a high school hallway with lockers and a trophy case. It was familiar and not babyish," says Korbett. Today, Pittsburgh has classrooms dedicated to the program in all. 10 high schools, the alternative high school and two special education centers; children go to there in addition to their regular language arts classes when the data shows that they need extra help. They take a test to discover their weaknesses and' the program generates an individualizedaction plan. "If a student is having trouble, the program stops and says 'teacher time; so a teacher can reinforce the skill before the student continues," says Korbett. She also likes that she 'can manage the program remotely and forward students' records when they transfer .. When Conyers Middle School in Georgia failed to make Adequate Yearly Progress, former principal Sue Snow had to take action. Teachers began using data to find and address weak areas, but realized that writing skills were lagging. They decided to use Vantage Learning's My Access, a Web-based writing program that instantly scores essays and provides remedial instruction. "Teachers have a hard time grading all those essays," says Snow, a former English teacher. "The instant feedback allowed us to have more quantity, which led to higher quality." After one year, the results were phenomenal: eighth graders' passing rate on meeting state standards in writing went from 84 percent to 91 percent. Snow, now principal at Rockdale County High School, uses the product with ninth graders.
Where K-12 Edncat'iol' and Tecfmo'ogy Meet
The Writing Challenge
Atlanta's Therrell High School jumped from last to third place in the state's standardized writing test district scores, thanks to dedicated educators, and a novel instructlonal writing tool.
By Algie Davis
Three veers ago, my school--Therrell Hi.ghSchool in Atlanta, Ga.--Ianded at the bottom of the dtstrtct's rankings after our 11 graders scored an 820n the Georqla High School Graduation Writing Test (GHSGWT), The scores, whiCh were just barely passinq, put us in danger of falling' on the No Child Left Behind 'at risk' list. This event spurred a call to action to our Language Arts department to revamp the school's writing program. At the time, we taught the basics, but we wanted to have a more unif.ied emphasis on the process of prewrttlrrc, drafting, and creating an acceptable draft.--a critical communication skill our students needed to master, not only for testing, but for life. Unfortunately, some teachers struggled with articulating that process to our students--some instructors didn't have enough time to grade a.1Ihe essays, t others found it difficult to manage various student writing levels in one classroom, often with as many as 30 students .. We tried everything, even to the point of crafting standard scripts for teachers to read during writing lessons, Still, students were not receiving nearly enough feedback as they required, and when they did get it, it rarely arrived in a timely fashion, due to teachers' backlogs in gra.ding and commenting. Our school found itself at a standstill, with no way to make the significant progress we were looking for. Still searching for answers, I called in Cheryl Darvill.e, our language Arts department chair. I knew If anybody could resolve this issue, she could. True to form, Ms. Darville sprang Into action, and began evaluating the situation and researching possibl.e solutions. In doing so, she came across a forgotten element of the school's Improvement plan: an online learning tool called MYAccess! from Vantage. Learning. To our surprise, Ms. Darville discovered that MY Access! was an online writing program that our school had already bought and paid for, yet no one had ever fully implemented.
Further research revealed it to be a web-based program that instantly scores student essays. The process was simple: students could write an essay based on a teacher's assignment, submit the essay to the system, and receive immediate feedback--basically, every improvement Ms. Darville was looking to implement in our writing department. That was April 2005. By August of that year, she had received training directly from the MY Access! technicians; learned how to retrieve and run the online programs; trained the Language Arts teachers on it; purchased 400 licenses; and installed the program in the school's computer lab and in her own classroom 'literacy lab,' which granted easy computer access to all students. At first, we, like many others who have heard of the benefits of online essay scoring technologies, were skeptical. How could a computer program, no matter how interactive, possibly have the same teaching effect as a living, breathing teacher, we asked. To ease our concerns, Ms. Darville got the language arts instructors together and hand-scored about 200 essays then compared our scores to those produced by MY Access! To our surprise, the program was just as accurate as our classroom full of professional teachers. As we soon came to find out, the MY Access! program analyzes multiple semantic, syntactic, and discourse characteristics. In a few seconds, students are scored on a 1 to 4 scale on focus and meaning, organization, content and development, language use and style, mechanics and conventions, and on overall writing proficiency--essentially, every element a teacher would need to examine. Even more appealing was that the program could be accessed from any computer with an internet connection. This feature let our students hit the site at school, at home, or at the library to see their essays and track their progress through the use of personal writing portfolios. The program's 'tutor' function showed them their errors, which they could then look up in MY Access!'s textbook for remediation. Our school's writing department adapted beautifully to this new system under Ms. Darville's direction. Instructors particularly enjoyed the customizable writing prompts that were easily aligned to Georgia's testing standards. This benefit went a long way toward fully preparing the students come test time, and even helped Ms. Darville predict the actual test scores (which she nailed, by the way). As it turned out, the simple fact that their essays were accessible online made students anxious to try it. Once they did, they were hooked by the web-based programming, and the new way of thinking about and processing the instructions. Moreover, the scoring process generated friendly competition among the students. Ms. Darville described a palpable buzz in the classroom as students compared their scores after each assignment. Not only did this development help the cooperative learning aspect of the program, but it enhanced the intrinsic motivation of the program, augmenting the school-sponsored motivational activities such as pizza parties and ice cream socials. Students finally realized that our writing exercises were not a waste of time, but a vital life skill. It heightened their level of concern, and opened their minds to the critical feedback. With this newfound acceptance, students finally began mastering the skills for the writing test.
Indeed. our work paid off this past testing period, as our school achieved an overall 93 percent passing rate on the GHSGWT--the third highest score in the Atlanta Public School District, up from very last place. We also made the program part of the school's special education curriculum, which helped those students improve their passing rate on the GHSGWT from 36 to 48 percent--a gain we once thought wasn't possible, and which proves that the system works for all students, not just the 'Average Joe'. Since our overall schools, we don't we now compare well as areas for score ranking now exceeds the average ranking of Atlanta compare our students to the school system anymore; instead, our data on the state level to evaluate our true strengths, as improvement or reinforcement.
As you can imagine, our success with online learning has turned us from skeptics into believers. All of our sophomores, juniors, and seniors now use the program in the classroom, and we hope to have the freshmen on board soon. Perhaps we could have eventually improved our scores without the online program, instead relying strictly on Ms. Darville's leadership, and our capable and dedicated teaching staff. But I think our dramatic results speak for themselves. The MY Access! program excited students about writing, and that excitement motivated them sufficiently to help the school markedly improve our test scores, all within a few short years. Today we are confident that, by the time Therrell High School students reach 11th grade, most will be capable writers; it's a transformation made possible by a top-notch faculty, motivated students, newfound passions for writing, and a phenomenal learning tool. Algie Davis is Principal of Therrell High School in Atlanta. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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www.eschoolnews.com email@example.com 7920 Norfolk Ave., Suite 900 Bethesda, MD 20814 (800) 394-0115 - Fax (301) 913-0119 PrivaC}1Policy Manag~'iour FREE eSchool News eMail subscriRtions here Contents Copyright 2006 eSchool News. All rights reserved.
K-12 IT I Feature
Filling the Tech Gap
Schools and districts find creative ways to teach 21st century learners on shoestring budgets • By Bridget McCrea
As the hammer falls on more public and private school budgets, one has to wonder just how these institutions will manage to acquire the equipment, software, and knowledge aptitudes necessary to teach students success skins for the 2] st century workforce. Somewhere between those schools that are eligible for government resources and support, and those that can afford to do it on their own, lies a "middle slice" ofK-12 institutions that struggle with this challenge daily. Kate Ross, an instructional coach with the Alpine School District in American for a number of schools that struggle to balance funding and resources against equipment and training. A few years ago, while working at a different district, launch an online writing pilot program targeted at students in grades 7 through Access! from Vantage Learnjng.) Fork, ill, has worked with and the need for technology for example, Ross helped 9. (The pilot program used MY
"It was a cool, online forum that allowed teachers to go online and pick from over 1,200 different topics for students to write about, said Ross. Students amassed electronic portfolios, and their essays were auto-scored by the system. The pilot lasted a few years, at which point Ross and her team decided it would be effective for the entire district.
II II II
"It took forever to get everyone on board (some were skeptical about the 'artificial intelligence' used in the grading system), but we managed to get commitments from junior high schools that wanted to use the online writing tool," said Ross. "Then we found out that the district couldn't fund the project." So after working for years to introduce the cutting-edge program across the district, Ross said Utah's low per-pupil spending rate took its toll. "It wasn't that the district didn't want the program; it just couldn't afford it," said Ross, who wasn't willing to give up so quickly. She approached the state education office to see if some funding could be reallocated to the program. The solution worked for a short period of time ... until that money ran out too. "Somehow we've managed to keep the program alive, and it's now being used in about 30 different districts across the state, said Ross. "Unfortunately, the state funding has run out, and those individual districts have been left to their own devices again. (Some have used trust land funding, while others have asked their school boards for fee increases.)
"Fee increases have helped bridge the gap when schools can't afford to buy technology," said Ross. Finally, she said parent fundraisers can also "fill in" where school budgets leave off. At the Kane County School District in Kanab, UT, for example, Ross said the online writing program is funded through "collections raised from parents, and through the community." Ross said other districts challenged by the gap between funding resources and technology needs can borrow a page from those 30 districts determined to keep their online writing programs in place. In the case of the -
writing program, for example, she said funding the professional development was one of the more expensive components. To solve the problem, a small group of teachers attended an institute's training course and then shared that knowledge with the rest of the district. "Collaboration can be an extremely effective tool when you're trying to infuse technology into the classroom," said Ross. "The conversations that took place between those teachers who received the formal training, and the rest of the staff, went a long way in making sure everyone knew how to use the online program." Liz Dwyer has also seen her share of school districts attempting to keep up with technology while sticking to today's meager budgets. A former teacher who also worked for Teach for America, Dwyer serves as education ambassador for the Pepsi Refresh Project, which awards grants to groups that develop good ideas. Dwyer, who is based in Los Angeles, works with a number of schools that have been hit hard by California's budget crunch. "We've seen almost $2 billion cut from education over the last two years," said Dwyer. "That's affected low-income schools, wealthy schools, and everything in between." Those lower-income schools typically qualify for Title I funding, she added, but those in the "middle area" have had to get more creative about how they fund technology initiatives. "We're seeing a lot of parent-teacher organizations get involved and become pretty much full-time fundraisers for their schools," said Dwyer. Other options include sites like DonorsChoose, which bills itself as an "online charity connecting you to classrooms in need." Through such sites, Dwyer said the teacher that needs 20 iPod Touches for her science class can download an application and submit a proposal. "DonorsChoose will send that application out to local businesses and the community, asking people to fund the purchase of those items," said Dwyer. "It's an option that I see being used by more and more schools." Sometimes, said Ross, a successful school- or district-wide technology implementation can happen in spite of budgetary woes, thanks to the support of teachers, administrators and school board members. "When you can come together as a consortium and work as a group, it can be pretty powerful," said Ross. "Get your legislators' ears, and just keep working until you get where you need to be. I've seen with my own eyes how well this can succeed." About the Author Bridget McCrea is a business and technology writer in Clearwater, FL. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Spotlight on Success Parkland School District, PA
Writing Here In
PA High School Students Continue to Improve Writing Scores using the MY Access! Instructional Writing Program
of Allentown, "Allentown."
n 1981, Billy Joel recorded a famous song about the great city PA, aptly titled Joel, who spent much of
students. Parkland High, with a total student body of 3,220, shows that more than 8% of its students are academically gifted. In addition, exist in every classroom of this six -year-old facility, statistics any district would be proud to boast. However, after administering 2002 PSSA Writing Test, administrators and educators identified that 22% of all the Internet connections
writing skills. After much research, Parkland chose Vantage Learning's award-winning Access! instructional writing MY
his early career playing Lehigh Valley venues, wrote the lyrics to depict the demise of the manufacturing industry
MY Access! is a
"MY Access! has played a significant role with our students ability to be consistently scored at a standard that is essentially similar to the standards assessed by our classroom teachers."
Web-based writing assessment and instructional that improves students' writing proficiency. MY tool
after the close of Bethlehem Steel. Well, times have certainly changed! The city is undergoing positive transition-city yet another officials are
currently trying to attract business to the downtown district, primarily as a way to
Access! scores student essays instantly and provides individualized instruction to
find new uses for existing structures. The city's infrastructure technology, offers state-of-the-art loop
including a fiber-optic electrical service,
which playa role in attracting to the downtown district.
engage and motivate students to continually improve their writing skills.
students scored below proficient high-stakes test. To better identify
Playing right into the technology boom in Allentown specifically, are its area schools;
The robust reporting
feature within the
students at risk of scoring poorly on the PSSA Writing Test, administrators Parkland developed remediation at
program provides up-to-the-minute information about student performance,
Parkland High School, part
of the Parkland School District, which encompasses three townships current enrollment and has a
enabling teachers to make timely, data-driven differentiated decisions for successful, instruction.
plan to assist below-
of close to 10,000
proficient students and improve their
Writing Here in Allentown!
A key function of MY Access! is domain scoring, which identifies each student's strengths and weaknesses in five major areas: focus and meaning, organization, content and development,
where parent participation
proves key to
the early success of the program at the High School, currently more than 600 students utilize MY Access! in the High School, Orefield Middle School and Springfield Middle School.
a student's success. The consistent and stable application of scoring rubrics
within MY Access! is lauded by administrators, Parkland. "MY Access! has played a significant role with our students ability to be consistently scored at a standard that is teachers and students at
language use and style, and mechanics and conventions, knowledge, Armed with this
Because of the significant increase in PSSA scores, Parkland views MY Access! as an essential component English/Language of their as
teachers across all grades
can follow assessment with targeted remedial instruction, dimensions focusing on specific
essentially similar to the standards assessed by our classroom teachers. It offers immediate feedback and a and with our it has played a key
teachers are clearly seeing good results. Claroni continued, "Success on the
of writing where students following
need further instruction. intervention,
PSSA Writing is more crucial than ever this year. We need our kids to be ready for the exams-but the great thing
students revise and
coaching component, teachers' instruction,
resubmit their essays for scoring, and view their progress. Eight years after integrating MY
role in our students' ability to perform to such a high percentage on the PSSA writing component," states Randy
about MY Access! is [that] it makes students better writers overall, which goes a very long way in guaranteeing them success across the board."
Access! as part of the plan to improve student writing, educators at Parkland
Claroni, the Secondary Curriculum Coordinator for Parkland School District. MY Access! into
High School continue to see meaningful improvements proficiency in their students' writing
levels. Since MY Access! is a
our writing curriculum for the last eight years, 90-92% of our students have earned proficient or higher scores on the Due to
Who: Parkland High School What: Urban Fringe of Mid-Sized City Where: Allentown, PA
Web-based program, at-risk students can access the online program not only in the classroom, but also at home,
Quick Facts --
PSSA Writing Test," said Claroni.
When: MY Access! user since 2002 Why: To build better writers and better students and to improve PSSA Writing Test scores
How Many: 638 students.
® y~~! o~.~~~~,lo~;~ ~Q~
110Terry Drive, Suite 100, Newtown, PA 18940 Phone: 800.230.2213 Fax: 215.579.8391 www.vantagelearning.com Copyright © by Vantage Learning, 2008
MESA ROBLES SCHOOL
16060 ~IESA ROBLES DR. HACIENDA HEIGHTS, CA 91745 626.933.6000· FAX 626.855.3827
Amy Moss David Avila Assistant Principals
February 1,2011 Re: Mesa Robles MyAccess Account To Whom It May Concern: As the principal of Mesa Robles School, I am proud to write this letter to inform you of the resounding success our students have experienced in their STAR Writing Assessment scores. Over the course of the last three years, as teachers have expected students to regularly submit essays online to MyAccess, and as students have become more adept in using the program, we have seen our scores steadily increase. And last year, our scores in the ih grade Writing Applications test soared to 97% Proficiency, up 25% from the previous year. Our teachers attribute a great deal of the amazing test results to the seamless integration of classroom instruction with technology, particularly the MyAccess program. Because students receive essentially instant feedback on their essays, based on a rubric that aligns to what our teachers also expect, teachers can require students to do multiple revisions and multiple submissions so that students can improve in the writing process and better understand how to improve their writing. In so doing, students learn more quickly the best way to accurately respond to prompts, how to better focus their essays and how to organize their thoughts into a cohesive structure. Several years ago, when our district first purchased My Access licensing, I was trained to support teachers in integrating the program within their daily practice and instruction. As a former English Language Arts teacher at the high school, I immediately saw the potential of this program. I saw how students could benefit from the tutorials and the immediate feedback, while teachers and administrators benefitted from the varied reports to help guide instruction and monitor student progress. Even though we, as most schools and districts, are confronted with budget cuts and limited funding to support supplementary materials and programs, Mesa Robles hopes to continue the relationship with Vantage Learning and the MyAccess program. We know it works and data supports our beliefs and findings. We thank you for your customer relations and support and we value the relationship we have been able to build and maintain with your company. In particular, Reza Asgari has been tremendously helpful in assisting us and finding ways in which we can continue this partnership. We hope our success and this letter can be seen as a testimony to the effectiveness of this program in raising student achievement. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at email@example.com or 626.933.6002. Thank you. Sincerely, Frank Chang Principal, Mesa Robles School
(fIheHacienda La Puente Unified School District is a community committed to developing lifelong learners who value themselves and the diversity of all people; apply decision-making skills leading to responsible actions; and use creativity, critical thinking, and problem solving in meeting the challenges of a changing society.
PASS CHRISTIAN PUBLIC SCHOOLS
COMMITTED TO EXCELLENCE
Debbie Kusek Client Account Manager Vantage Learning Dear Debbie, After reviewing research into practices of high performing schools, the Pass Christian School District committed to improving non-fiction writing skills of our students, Our search for a writing improvement program led to MY Access!. The District implemented the program for selected grades in elementary, middle, and high school. Feedback from teachers and student is very positive. A middle school teacher describes MY Access! as "an extremely helpful tool in my writing shed", Teachers praise the program for providing individualized instruction for students with immediate feedback. MY Access! enables students to participate in many more writing sessions as the teacher works with individuals or small groups on particular needs, In one teacher's words, the program is "true differentiation". What better feedback could one receive that this from an elementary teacher. "My stadents were begging to write," As students utilized the MY Access! writing program throughout the year, the District saw a steady improvement in students' holistic scores. This positive reinforcement motivated students to write more often and with more thought. Competitive students strived to beat their score from the last SUbmission, As a result, several classes improved by 30% or more from the first student writing submission to the last. State writing test results also showed improvement. Middle school students showed a 14% increase in the number of students scoring a three or higher. Forty-three percent of tested high school students earned a score of three or more, an 11% increase from the previous year. The Pass Christian School District is pleased with the positive results, but even more pleased with the students' increased enthusiasm for writing. As we make the transition to the Common Core State Standards, writing will be a critical component of our instruction. MY Access! is an effective tool in our 'writing shed'.
8eth John, Ed,S
BETH JOHN Director of Curriculum & Instruction District Test Coordinator
6457 KILN·DELISLE ROAD· PASS CHRISTIAN, MISSISSIPPI PHONE: (228) 255-6200 • FAX: (228) 255-6204 39571