Teacher Ingrid Oyen doesn't have to guess whether her students grasp a concept.
She pulls out her mobile interactive whiteboard and posts a question from an assessment bank. The third-graders in her class use their student response pads and answer the questions that are projected on a classroom surface such as a regular whiteboard. Then Oyen watches as the third-graders' names stream onto her device with their answers.
These daily formative assessments and interactive tools have saved Oyen time. And they've also helped her classroom make significantly higher achievement gains compared to other classes in Salt Creek 48 School District, said Mark Hupp, technology director of the Illinois district.
"It isn't cheap to implement these tools, but this is one of the few technologies where I see definitive achievement gain," Hupp said. "This is a technology that really drives achievement, and that to me is really why we're here."
Since the beginning of the year, students scored higher on their daily formative assessments. They also scored higher on a predictive growth model developed by research and analytics consulting firm ECRA Group.
ECRA uses student results from three high-stake tests to develop propensity scores. These scores predict with a fairly high degree of accuracy how a child could perform on state tests, Hupp said. The school district uses the model to see how different initiatives impact student growth.
Oyen's class scored at .75 above the predicted score. The firm considers .25 above the score to be significant, so this number was three times significant. That's almost unheard of, Hupp said.
It's no coincidence that the scores went up at the same time Oyen's class started using student response pads and eInstruction's Insight 360 formative instruction system, he said.
On the students' daily math review, they made many errors at first. But as students received immediate feedback from their teacher, those errors dropped throughout the year, Oyen said. They also receive incentives to get the correct answer.
If Oyen gives the students a math problem, she sees who's struggling and who got the answer right. The children who solved the problem correctly can help those who didn't.
She also shows them where they went wrong, such as the 10's column. And if she wants to make up a new question in the middle of an assessment, she writes it on her slate.
With the system's software, Oyen recognizes when students aren't grasping a concept and addresses the problem then instead of waiting until she grades a paper quiz.
"Reteaching something at that moment with two extra problems saves me a lot of time later on because now it's in the moment, they've learned it and they can move on."