Real-time assessments help Stevenson-Carson’s teachers customize learning to the individual needs of each student

Monday, September 20, 2021-Stevenson, WA-Stevenson-Carson School District regularly analyzes student progress using assessments several times throughout the school year to provide data on areas students show strength and areas that need more attention. During the 2019 school year, the district switched to a new platform called iReady which provides even more detailed analysis to improve student learning and performance district-wide. 

Regular assessments give teachers and staff valuable data on how students learn and where they stand in real-time which can be used to tailor additional studies for students who are excelling in an area while also provide support for students who may be struggling. “Studies show that students who struggle can become frustrated with assignments they find too challenging,” said Sarah Dodson, Principal of Carson Elementary. “Conversely, students who already know how to do work can become bored and lose interest.”

Students take diagnostic assessments using iReady three to four times throughout the school year. “iReady works like a ‘choose-your-own-adventure’ story with the program adapting to each student’s unique strengths and areas of growth based on how they answer the questions,” explained Dodson. “The results provide valuable resources for teachers to better adapt how they teach and what they focus on to fit their students’ needs.”

The software helps assess where students learning stands with detailed analysis. “iReady analyzes discrete skills at each grade level which helps us figure out how to group students proficient in certain areas and those who need intervention,” said Dodson. “The platform provides a very user-friendly way to help focus on what kids need in order to learn.”

In addition to the individual needs of each student, iReady provides guidance on what the teaching staff needs to address on broader levels from classroom to grade level to school-wide. “From our data, we learned that our third graders are missing some foundational skills in mathematics thanks to the beginning of the pandemic,” said Dodson. “Accordingly, we developed ways to address these missing skills.” Additionally, by using the platform multiple times throughout the school year, teachers can see trends developing over time. “With more data, our teachers see consistent trends over time which helps them dig deeper and use the results to inform their teaching techniques,” said Dodson. 

By knowing students’ areas of strength and areas that need more focus, teachers can challenge those who are excelling while ensuring they give extra attention to those who may be struggling. “Due to the pandemic and remote learning last year, identifying where students need additional help has become vital,” said Dodson. “Many students have gaps in their learning that need to be addressed to help them progress.”

The teachers find most students enjoy using iReady. “They learn to make goals in their own learning, take control of it, and get excited when they meet and exceed their goals,” said Dodson. “We present academic growth awards, and students cheer each other on for their academic accomplishments.”

Many students enjoy setting the pace of their own learning. “You get to challenge yourself by making your goals bigger and what you learn bigger,” said Jovany Hernandez, a fifth grader. “I really like math and really like to challenge myself by setting further and further goals.”

Chance Welschmeyer, also in fifth grade, agreed with his classmate. “Setting goals helps us be more motivated and when you succeed you receive a certificate showing you reached your goal,” he said. “Also, you can set reasonable goals which helps you improve by letting you reach your goal and then set a higher more difficult one after you’ve succeeded.” 

Students struggling with certain lessons find iReady gives them the additional help they need. “When I was having trouble with math, iReady helped by telling me when I got a problem wrong and showing me,” said fifth grader Reina Fields. Kira Hohlman, a classmate, found iReady helped her develop interests, too. “Before I started using iReady, I really didn’t like reading a lot,” she said. “It helped me get interested in reading because it has really interesting stories that made me want to read even more.”

Studies have shown children learn more effectively when they can take ownership of their learning. “We want to help kids become partners in their learning by setting goals and seeing their own improvement,” said Dodson. “Once they take ownership and pride in their learning, we will see real improvement, and that skill will be on they will use for their whole lives.”

Parents and community members interested in learning more can watch this video on iReady’s website: