Digital tools and developments have ushered in a new era of education, providing limitless opportunities for student development. The options available to educators are just as vast, presenting a challenge of identifying the right tools for particular goals, understanding how to utilize them and ensuring buy-in from teachers, students and parents. CUSD has found a trusted partner in i-Ready and the results are showing up early in astounding ways.
i-Ready is an online program for reading and math that assists teachers in monitoring student progress throughout the year through a diagnostic assessment that generates a personalized instruction pathway for every student. The interactive and adaptive software assesses each student’s individual skill level and creates a lesson plan focused on their personal growth. CUSD incorporated i-Ready into the elementary school curriculum in 2019.and the program proved vital at the onset of COVID-19, providing students with self-guided lessons they could do at home.
At the end of the 2020-21 school year, middle school students took an i-Ready diagnostic assessment as a replacement for state testing and to prepare them to start using the program in the fall. Teachers were encouraged to incorporate i-Ready lessons into their coursework for math and language arts. At the mid-point of the year, CUSD staff met with the i-Ready support team to review the data for middle school students and the results were astounding- many students had already surpassed their year-end growth goals. Families received an email with their students’ i-Ready diagnostic growth report scores in June.
What is i-Ready?
i-Ready is an online program that helps teacher(s) determine their student’s needs, personalize their learning, and monitor progress throughout the school year. i-Ready allows teachers to meet students exactly where they are and provides data to increase learning gains.
“Differentiating curriculum to meet student needs is one of the biggest challenges teachers face,” said Dave Kootman, i-Ready Regional Director. “Teachers know that every student learns at a different pace, in a different way, so i-Ready helps them create a personalized learning experience.”
i-Ready in CUSD
Capistrano Unified chose i-Ready because it would benefit both teachers and students. Teachers gain a better understanding of each student with real-time data. Students receive a personalized learning experience that can be done at their own pace. District leadership also felt the program connected with the 4 Critical Questions of a Professional Learning Community, a central tenet in the curriculum:
- What do we want our students to know and be able to do?
- How will we know when they have learned it?
- How will we respond when they don’t learn?
- How will we respond when they already know it?
i-Ready was an optimal tool for this approach due to its adaptability and personalization. The program identifies important skills that need reinforcement and empowers students to learn in an efficient, effective manner. Lessons recalibrate as the student progresses, allowing for the ability to challenge in areas of proficiency and provide more instruction in areas of need.
“The implementation of i-Ready in the middle schools afforded all teachers to use the data in their content specific subjects” said Karen Gauthier, CUSD STEM Coordinator K-12. “The diagnostic is given in math and reading, but the data informs instruction for every middle school course. When the data becomes ‘Everyone’s Data’ it impacts the work of our Professional Learning Communities K-8.”
Why focus on growth?
Rather than assess students on benchmarks across the entire class or grade level, i-Ready focuses on growth. Each student is assessed at the start of the program and their growth in each area is tracked over time.
“We have developed an equitable growth model, where students can be assessed based on growth targets,” Kootman said. “Growth is the leading indicator of performance. As students work with the program, learning at their own pace, they build confidence. The bar keeps pushing higher the more they achieve and that leads to improved performance in all areas during their academic careers.”
Every student has the ability to grow and improve. A student who may struggle in a certain subject can see that they are improving, learning. A student who is proficient in a certain subject can strengthen their skills towards mastery.
A path for lifetime learning
The subject matter skills obtained through i-Ready lessons are just one benefit of the program. Students also become more adept learners, developing cognitive skills that fit them best and prepare them for education in the future. Not to mention the confidence that they build in their ability to learn and succeed. As students progress through their educational journeys, they will continue to see the benefits i-Ready provides.