Progress Monitoring – Central to Motivation and Success

Progress monitoring refers to the process of frequently gathering student achievement data, analyzing the data in a timely, repeatable manner, and making sound instructional and intervention decisions based on the data. Progress monitoring data can be used to estimate students’ rates of improvement, which allows for comparison to peers, or identify students who are not demonstrating or making adequate progress so that instructional changes can be made.

 Efficient Data Gathering Key to Progress Monitoring

To support the frequency and intensity of progress monitoring, assessments should be brief, repeatable, reliable, valid, and highly sensitive to even small changes in proficiency.

Assessments should enable the presentation of data in visual representations that are quickly and easily understood by stakeholders to facilitate agile instructional decisions. They should also use readily-available materials, feature standardized administration and scoring techniques, and be easy to implement in order to promote fidelity.

Student Progress Can Be Captured On Demand

It’s important that assessments are nimble and timely in order to ensure a learning plan keeps up with their progress. With embedded, continual assessment, student progress can be captured on demand at any point. In addition, the frequency of data collection and analysis can be customized for each student and based on each school’s specific staff and schedule limitations.

 Appropriately Leveled Data Leads to Sound Instructional Decisions

Another critical factor in progress monitoring is that data collected clearly illustrate student performance at its actual level—not at the level where the core curriculum is being taught.

That is, assessments must illustrate the student’s actual level of performance within and across academic subjects and domains within a subject—be it one or more levels below grade level, at grade level, or one or more levels above grade level.

 A Proven Progress Monitoring Tool For Mathematics

With Ascend Math, student data is gathered continuously. Teachers are empowered by numerous dashboards that reflect incremental changes to proficiency levels. In addition, the Student Progress Summary report is a handy snapshot of grade level equivalency showing where students are working in real time. It includes:

  • The growth and current Math Level Equivalency for each student
  • Data at deciles which is more accurate than math quartiles found in other programs
  • The level in which each student is currently working
  • The percentage of the level completed and number of units remaining

Students are also empowered and motivated by visual representations of their progress. Each time they log in to Ascend the first thing they see is their personal avatar climber. They continuously see progress as their avatar ascends the mountain one objective at a time. Mountain badges are earned for each level the student climbs. Students can also earn badges and rewards for time on task and objectives completed.

Another option for students to measure their progress is the student progress page, where they can view the total hours they worked the day, week and previous week, as well as time on task for the current objective and date completed.

Ascend Math promotes analyzing data in a timely, repeatable manner with tools like the Live Student Tracker.  It provides critical, real-time information for each student, informing teachers immediately if students are struggling and in need of intervention. The Live Student Tracker shows:

  • Current level, unit, and objective
  • Attempts at the current objective’s post assessment and date and time of the last post assessment attempt in order to measure day to day mastery
  • The next objective in the student’s prescriptive study plan

Ascend Math provides easy to read progress monitoring reports and real-time data, meaning the student’s progression of achievement is monitored and instructional paths are adjusted to meet evolving learning needs.

Ascend’s formative and summative assessments require no special materials or time-consuming set up and are fully automated to ensure uniform administration.  Results are presented in easy-to-understand visuals that are consistent for students, classes and schools. For instance, bar graphs and pie charts show the teacher individual and whole-class objectives completed, hours worked, current skill levels, levels of growth and levels of achievement.

Beginning with its diagnostic screener, Ascend Math identifies the grade level at which each student is actually performing. This appropriately leveled data leads to sound instructional decisions. Once the student has been assigned a level, he or she takes a pre assessment on the first unit of instruction. Ascend automatically removes learning objectives in which the student is proficient. Any non-mastered objectives indicated by the student’s pre- assessment results become the student’s individual learning plan.

Ascend Math automatically advances students through functional levels. Comprehensive reports allow administrators to gauge level advancement and determine the effectiveness of the intervention. For example, in Crisp County Middle School in Georgia 41 percent of the students using Ascend Math completed two or more levels and forty-five students out of 112 attained their grade level goal within the year. Other examples include: Emmet Belknap Intermediate School in New York where Tier 2 fifth- and sixth- graders who previously averaged  one half year grade level  growth, achieved nearly four times that using Ascend Math, and;  Jerry Junkins Elementary School in Texas, which saw K through 6th graders in the Ascend Math class achieve 47 percent mastery on the STARR test versus 26 percent in non-Ascend math classes.

Part 5 of this series will focus on Data-Based Decision Making.

 

Posted in Math Intervention, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Why True Individualization Matters

Every student is unique, with different instructional gaps at different levels. Typically, students are instructed according to grade level and with an assumption they have mastered all the preceding building blocks necessary for grade-level math instruction. But this is often not the case. It is imperative that an effective intervention provide a tiered model for student instruction and assessment while identifying skill gaps, especially below level, and tailoring instruction to focus on the most-needed content.

At Tier 1, it is assumed that regular classroom instruction incorporates differentiated learning—specific strategies, tools, or approaches that meet the varied needs present within a typical heterogeneous classroom. For instance, teachers may employ text, visuals, manipulatives, audio support, small or large-group problem-solving or other techniques.

Tier 2 Interventions typically feature individualized instruction. Whereas differentiation at Tier 1 assumes that a variety of instructional strategies will meet the needs of most students, Tier 2 intervention becomes specifically personalized to each individual student. Individualization includes attention to both learning style—how a student learns best—and content—what a student needs to learn. Personalization also applies to advanced students, allowing them to accelerate at an increasing pace.

Drilling Down on Student Skills and Gaps

Ideally, Tier 2 interventions target a student’s actual level of performance rather than his or her grade level, and reflect the reality that a single student may be functioning at a variety of instructional levels within and across academic subjects and domains within a subject area. For instance, a student may understand multiplying fractions, but not dividing fractions.

If a student does not respond to Tier 2 intervention, despite fidelity of implementation, he or she progresses to Tier 3. Tier 3 intervention requires significantly more individualized intervention, combining some aspects of Tier 2 intervention with additional instructional content and/or strategies based on specific student needs, as well as increased intervention time.

Ascend Math is one of the few math intervention programs to provide a truly individualized study plan for each student. Recognizing that many students have not mastered all the preceding building blocks necessary for grade-level math instruction, Ascend provides a platform where students work at multiple functional grade levels of proficiency within the same class.

Based on the results of the diagnostic assessment, Ascend Math teachers may address multiple levels of intervention simultaneously. A single Ascend Math classroom of eighth graders may simultaneously have 67 percent of students working at third grade level in math, 19 percent at a fourth grade level, and the remaining students spread out between fifth and seventh.  Ascend Math reaches each student at his or her functional grade level, addressing individual skill gaps, resulting in impressive gains on benchmark tests.

Separating Mastery from Need

Once the student has been assigned to a level, he or she takes a pre-assessment over the first unit of instruction. Ascend automatically removes learning objectives in which the student is proficient. Ascend Math then automatically directs students to instruction for non-mastered objectives indicated by the student’s pre-assessment scores.  Students will demonstrate mastery on a post assessment prior to moving on to the next lesson in a logical math sequence. Therefore, using the state standards appropriate to each district, Ascend Math automatically individualizes instruction and assigns each student a carefully-articulated study plan based on pre-assessment results.

Multimedia Instruction

Each student receives a rich, differentiated learning experience through Ascend Math’s technology. Lessons include:

  • video-based direct instruction by mathematics education experts;
  • audio and video support to ensure conceptual understanding of mathematics concepts;
  • rewards and activities to increase motivation and engagement;
  • interactive exploration using visually-rich manipulative tools;
  • traditional practice with opportunities for re teaching;
  • and assessment to ensure mastery of skills.

Automatically Adjusted Pathways Decrease Frustration

Ascend Math’s instructional approaches support a variety of kinesthetic learners, English Language Learners, and Special Education students. Students progress at their own pace through the program, and learning pathways are adjusted automatically as skills and concepts are mastered.

For example, students complete a grouping of objectives quickly and then move on to the next brief pre-assessment thereby building an individual study plan one piece at a time.  In this way, students who have been frustrated feel encouraged as they successfully fill skill gaps quickly.

Ascend meets students at their actual level of mastery—identifying skill gaps and tailoring instruction to focus on the most-needed content.

Learn more about the Six Critical Components of a Strong Math Intervention Program and the Ascend Math Model.

Part four of this series will focus on Progress Monitoring.

Posted in Math Intervention | Tagged , | Leave a comment

How Universal Screening Identifies At-Risk Students

There is widespread agreement among education researchers and experts that universal screening is central to an effective RTI program. Implemented as part of a Tier 1 Intervention, universal screening identifies current or potential academic deficits for every student.

Issues with Single-Stage Screening

Universal screening instruments may include Curriculum-Based Measures (CBMs) such as regular classroom tests, quizzes, activity reports and more formal evaluations of skill mastery, such as state assessments, district assessments, and other assessments as determined by the school’s RTI team.  Some researchers suggest that a single-stage screening, which relies on a sole instrument of measurement and is performed during a single sitting, can result in significantly inaccurate results. Such inaccurate results can include a high level of false-positives or false-negatives, unnecessarily increasing a school’s investment in RTI or under-identifying at-risk students, unacceptably delaying their access to needed interventions.

Two-Stage Screening and Accessible Results

To avoid this challenge, researchers recommend a two-stage screening, in which the cut point is set sufficiently high to eliminate students  clearly not in need of intervention, including gifted and talented students who are advanced in mathematics. This is followed by a second, more detailed assessment of students who did not meet the cut point on the first assessment.

An effective universal screening process should quickly and accurately determine which students to target for intervention and identify specific gaps in student performance and expected instructional outcomes according to grade level.

Universal screening instruments should also be easy to administer and analyze, presenting data in a way that is accessible and facilitates timely instructional decisions regarding course placement and scheduling. This also ensures that universal screening occurs with fidelity—that teachers or other school staff are consistent and timely in their intervention programs.

Adaptive Instruction

Ascend Math can play an important role in multi-stage universal screening.  A school may choose to utilize Ascend’s adaptive Level Recommendation Screener for all student populations to quickly eliminate students not in need of intervention and  efficiently identify students performing significantly below grade level. Or, following a stage 1 “high level” screening such as a state test, which eliminates students clearly not at risk, schools can administer Ascend’s Level Recommendation Screener to students that did not perform adequately to quickly and efficiently identify their exact functional level.l. Easily readable Teacher and Administrator Dashboards allow educators in different roles to view students’ proficiency status in terms of a student’s functional level versus actual grade level. Diagnostic assessments then pinpoint students’ performance according to mathematics standards and major content areas to provide a comprehensive, accurate picture of current levels of math proficiency and to automatically create a fully-individualized intervention plan for each student.

Ascend’s Dashboards further facilitate the analysis of individual student and whole-class screening with immediate results and color-coded charts and graphs that provide a quick and detailed read on each student’s skill level, and overall class progress.

District Results Confirm Effective Screening

For example, in a Maryland middle school, administrators selected a set of students who had not made adequate progress on the state mathematics test in previous years. These students were administered Ascend’s diagnostic assessment, which found that 97 percent tested at least one grade below their current grade and 70 percent three or more grades levels below. This data supported the accuracy of Ascend’s diagnostic assessment in confirming the need for intervention and allowed districts to accurately place students in Tier 2 or Tier 3 interventions in a timely manner. Dramatic results in less than a school year include: the number of students testing at third grade level decreasing by 92 percent; and 60 percent of grade six through eight students gaining two-to-three grade levels. For additional results, see Holabird STEM Program, MD.

Learn more about the Six Critical Components of a Strong Math Intervention Program and the Ascend Math Model.

 

Part three of this series will focus on Individualized Instruction.

Posted in Math Intervention | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The Key Role of Tiered Intervention

Researchers agree that a tiered system of math intervention is critical to an effective RTI model. The tiered design includes three, increasingly intensive, levels of intervention depending on a student’s needs and ability to successfully respond to a customized learning plan.

Tier 1, Level 1, or Primary Intervention is, in essence, regular instruction delivered in the general education classroom.  Ideally, teachers provide research-based, differentiated instruction based on a student’s particular needs.

Students who lag behind in grade-level skill mastery or have preexisting math deficits are moved to a Tier 2 intervention model.  At this tier, the intensity of both assessment and instruction is greater, with teachers monitoring progress more frequently and adapting individual learning plans as needed.  This adaptation differentiates the instructional experience for each student by acknowledging newly mastered concepts and addressing continued skill gaps.

Based on this timely collection of data, students may be moved back to Tier 1 general classroom instruction, may remain in Tier 2, or may be moved to Tier 3 for even more intensive intervention.

Perhaps one of the most important aspects of Ascend Math is its ability to empower teachers and administrators with up-to-the-minute data on each student’s progress, allowing for timely decisions about placement. Unlike end-of-the-year state assessments, whose results may not be available to schools until late in the following semester, Ascend Math assessment data can help inform decisions about summer school learning needs and a school’s fall intervention scheduling.

Individualized Solution

There are perhaps fewer things more discouraging to struggling students than being forced to work through a preset battery of lessons that includes skills they’ve already mastered.

Ascend Math’s adaptive Level Recommendation assessment effectively places students at their correct individual functional level. This allows learners to begin to see success immediately. As students progress through their continuously adapted learning plan, Ascend Math automatically removes objectives in which they demonstrate mastery in the pre assessment, infusing an ever-greater level of individualization.

Fidelity a Factor

Students who do not respond to Tier 2 Intervention and are therefore moved to Tier 3, are accommodated with an increase in both frequency and duration of interventions. Typically, failure to respond to Tier 3 Intervention results in a referral for Special Education Services. Thus, it is critical that intervention is implemented with absolute fidelity and that this fidelity is clearly supported through documentation, which Ascend Math provides.  Tier 3 Interventions may require significant flexibility on the part of schools to ensure that class scheduling and staff availability can accommodate the increased intensity of the intervention.

Technology-Enabled

Because Ascend Math is fully automated, time-consuming tasks associated with individualizing student learning experiences are taken off the teacher’s plate.  Students can move seamlessly between intervention tiers as needed, and the challenges of managing groups of students needing multiple levels of intensity are minimized.

The student interface incorporates Growth Mindset and motivational features through games, activities and badges in Base Camp.  Student engagement is enhanced by learning activities that include video, interactive explorations and immediate feedback on practice. Continual assessments ensure students remain engaged, set goals and track progress. Automatically generated dashboards help teachers keep parents and administrators abreast of individual and whole class student progress without adding extra hours to their day.

As an online solution, Ascend Math also offers the advantage of “anytime, anywhere” learning. Beyond classroom hours, students can access the program in computer labs, and before or after school from home or any internet-connected location. This provides schools the flexibility to ensure that learners receive the intervention intensity needed to meet progress goals without over-taxing the staff and school schedule.

Learn more about the Six Critical Components of a Strong Math Intervention Program and the Ascend Math Model.

Part 2 of this series will look at Universal Screening and Adaptive Instruction.

Posted in Math Intervention | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Ascend Math Honors 37 Schools for Math Leadership!

Ascend Education recently announced that a record 37 schools are being recognized as Gold Medal schools this year.

The Gold Medal Award was established in 2010 to honor the schools or districts that best demonstrate a dedication to ensuring that all students become successful at math. The Gold Medal nominees all used Ascend Math to supplement their math instruction to achieve results better than they would in the normal classroom environment.  All 37 Gold Medal schools or districts will receive an award commemorating their success.

These 37 schools represent some of the best and most successful math implementations in our country during this ESSA era. In each of these schools students made tremendous strides far beyond what they have done in the past without this personalized learning model.  I am extremely proud of the important job these educators are doing to help their students succeed in math, gain confidence and positively advance in life.

The 9,851 students in these 37 Gold Medal schools mastered 271,313 math objectives and worked 191,720 hours in Ascend Math.  Most students gained from 1 to 4 grade levels in math. The complete Honor Roll of all Gold Medalists can be viewed at http://ascendmath.com/gold_2018

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


An email was just sent to confirm your subscription. Please check your email and click confirm to activate your subscription.

Posted in Ascend Math News, From Kevin Briley, Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Equity in Education: Achieving a Math Identity

The goal for math equity is to achieve a math identity for all students.

When I think about the many challenges schools and districts face in addressing all students, I also think about the possibilities for success that new opportunities offer such students.

I have just returned from the NCSM conference, an event I looked forward to as an opportunity to dig deeper into the issue of equity in education. The strand on equity offered effective strategies for meeting students on their “cultural turf”.  The speakers shared research and experiences on best ways to overcome the challenges of multicultural classrooms and offered practical solutions.

One of the common themes was how we must focus on student learning and engagement in a way that is relevant to the student given their cultural and socio economic backgrounds.  I am excited about the strategies presented that will allow students to embrace math in ways in which they can identify and speak about math.  Whether in mathematics or equity, we must create an entry point for all participants. Only when students can speak about math in the context of their lives, then they truly have adopted a math identity and become active learners.

I look forward to reflecting on this post and offering new perspectives on math engagement for all.

Stay tuned

Marjorie Briley

Equity Begins with Awareness

 

 

 

 

 

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


An email was just sent to confirm your subscription. Please check your email and click confirm to activate your subscription.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Equity Begins with Awareness

When my husband, Kevin, and I founded Ascend Math back in 2007, it was with the goal of helping to give all kids the gift of math literacy, especially those who may have fallen through the cracks. What we’ve received in return since then has been satisfying proof that Ascend is having a real-world impact on struggling learners. In particular, we’ve noticed that students in underserved communities are making impressive—even dramatic– gains. Examples include students that pass high stakes tests for the very first time sometimes in 8th grade after multiple years of failure.  We recently heard from a teacher, “Ascend participants have gained confidence through completing lessons, and are encouraged through the earning of flags, fireworks and time at Base Camp. This confidence has spilled over into other areas and has manifested itself in better progress monitoring scores, better scores on common assessments and school wide universal screeners.”

The success these kids are enjoying stands for more than just better test scores. In many cases it means envisioning a successful future for the first time. This kind of vision is something that can only be achieved when schools and districts make a conscious effort to reach learners who lack the everyday support many of their peers enjoy.

In my next few notes, I will be exploring the concept of equity, an issue that is much on my mind and the minds of educators across the nation these days. The upcoming National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics (NCSM) conference (April 23rd-25th) offers a dedicated strand on the topic of equity, and I am eager to learn more and share my thoughts about how we might all ensure kids get equal opportunities at learning.

Stay tuned.

Marjorie Briley

Equity Begins with Awareness

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


An email was just sent to confirm your subscription. Please check your email and click confirm to activate your subscription.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Celebrate Earth Day 2018 with these fun math problems!

A special thank you to the 8th grade math students from Johnsburg Junior High School in IL for submitting the following math problem to the 2018 Earth Day Math Contest:

If a tree grows 5 branches and each of those branches grows an additional 5 branches and each of those grow another 5 branches, how many branches are on the tree?

We hope you enjoy celebrating earth day this week with this fun math problem. This year’s earth day theme is to help end plastic pollution. Here are some problems submitted related to this year’s theme. Enjoy and share with your class!

  1. Americans use 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour! Most of them are thrown away! Only around 27% of plastic bottles are recycled. How many bottles are recycled an hour? How many more would be recycled if the percentage rose to 30%
  2. It takes 100 to 400 years for plastics to break down in a landfill. If you buried a plastic bottle today what is the soonest date that it would be broken down?
  3. Five recycled plastic bottles provide enough fiber to create one square foot of carpet. If the carpet in your classroom is 50 square feet how many plastic bottles would need to be recycled to make it.
  4. Americans buy 29 billion bottles of water a year, more than any other nation. It takes 17 million barrels of crude oil to make this many plastic water bottles. How many billion bottles can be manufactured from one barrel of crude oil?
  5. If 32,000,000 tons of plastic were produced in 2017 and only 9% was recycled, how much plastic was not recycled?
Posted in Fun Math Problems | Leave a comment

Earth Day Math Contest 2018

Earth Day is Sunday, April 22. This year’s theme is to end plastic pollution. Celebrate with  your math class this year and remind students to recycle, reuse, and reduce.  The first 10 classrooms to send us their Earth Day Math Problem (with solution) will receive a packet of Earth Day pencils made from recycled newspaper for their students.

Submit your math problem by end of day Friday, April 13 to earthday@ascendmath.com. Be sure to include the name of your class, school and location. Then on Monday April 16 check out the Ascend Math blog to see all the problems that were submitted. Choose your favorites to share with students to celebrate Earth Day.

Try these links for numerous Earth Day Facts and Figures just crying out for you and your students to turn into a fun math problem.

Again, send your math problems to earthday@ascendmath.com

https://www.almanac.com/content/earth-day-date-activities-history

https://www.earthday.org/2018/03/07/fact-sheet-end-plastic-pollution/

http://mentalfloss.com/article/78560/10-fascinating-facts-about-earth-day

https://www.livescience.com/50556-earth-day-facts-history.html

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Announcing March Mathness V

Are you ready for March Madness, the annual NCAA Men’s basketball tournament? Math plays into this annual event in more ways than you might think. Some of the most popular posts of the past four years have been those celebrating March Mathness, the math behind the sport of basketball!

Check this blog regularly for more fun math problems. Send your ideas for March Mathness math problems to marchmath@ascendmath.com

Here are some favorites to kick off the 1st Round:

If there are 64 teams in the tournament and half are eliminated each round, how many rounds does it take to determine a champion?
A basketball court measures 94 feet by 50 feet. What is the perimeter of the court? What is the area?

College players use a basketball that is 9.4 inches in diameter. The hoop is 18 inches in diameter. If a ball passes exactly through the center of the net, how much space will there be between the edge of the ball and the hoop?
Last year we asked some questions about mascots. Here is another interesting fact, if you were to pick a team to win the championship based on school color, what color would you pick? Blue, more than 75% of the champions have had blue as their school color.

Posted in From Kevin Briley, Fun Math Problems, March Mathness | Tagged , , | 1 Comment