Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Formatives, a Convenient Method in Monitoring Progress

Learning is driven by intentional assessment for all students and helps to identify those in need of stronger support and interventions. Assessments help educators create an equitable learning environment with options ranging from benchmark, interim, to short formative assessments. Each has a specific purpose, while all provide data needed to challenge students at their zone of proximal development.

Let's zero in on formative assessments. This short assessment measures the achievement of one standard for the purpose of guiding instruction and providing information on standards mastery. These quizzes, usually about 5 questions, offer quick snapshots of learning. The data generated through the quiz can be run at the student, class, or district level providing specific information for the appropriate user whether it is a teacher, principal, or administrator. Thus, formatives are beneficial for all levels of educators.

Simply put, formative assessments are a convenient way to monitor student progress. Formatives can be administered at any time in the classroom, scheduled for large groups of students, and can sometimes be generated automatically to address specific student needs. In some cases, pre-built formative assessments are available in learning management systems offering a convenience way to quickly gauging learning. While some assessment systems incorporate tools offering the ability to create, schedule, and administer formatives. The ability to create formatives is particularly convenient when teachers want to test skills recently covered in the classroom. 

Consider incorporating formatives as a common practice. Formatives can be used to:

  • Pre-test. Find out where your students are at the beginning of a unit. Use this information to guide instructional planning and to build intervention groups for students who many need a little extra help.
  • Practice. Formatives can be used to give students the opportunity to get used to certain item types such as technology enhanced items found on high stakes tests.
  • Intervene. Formative assessments can be administered to a group of students who have been identified as needing additional instruction. These quizzes provide additional information to teachers to help reduce the risk of failing to master standards.
  • Guide instruction. Formatives can be given for the purpose of guiding instruction. They provide the information needed to decide where to begin teaching so time is not wasted on teaching concepts the class already knows.
  • Inform instructional delivery. Formatives can be used to provide information on how students respond to varying instructional content delivery. Use this information to help create differentiated instruction so that all students can learn and achieve.
  • Monitor progress. Formatives help teachers gather information throughout the year to show teachers what students have learned at a given point in time within the unit or lesson.
  • Standards Mastery. Formative assessments assess one standard to see if initial instruction was understood and the standard has been mastered. This provides a clear direction on when to move forward to the next unit.
Documenting student learning, evaluating curriculum effectiveness, supporting differentiated instruction for intervention groups, and supporting individualized instruction are all supported through formative assessments. Dig deeper into assessments and discover the rare mix of convenience and choice available.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

October is Head Start Awareness Month

First created in 1982 by President Ronald Reagan, Head Start Awareness Month is an opportunity to share at the local, state and national levels the power of Head Start.
As a long-time supporter of the National Head Start Association (NHSA), we would like to pay tribute to the work and advocacy done to build knowledge of and support for the whole-child and whole-community approach in supporting children and families on their path to success.
Right now, there is a growing realization among business leaders and policy makers that investment in early childhood is key to the future success of our nation. There is also a greater understanding of the importance in the development of character of the first five years of life and a greater appreciation of the long-term benefits to society from investing in high quality programs such as Head Start and Early Head Start. We have always seen the value of the work they do, but it’s exciting to see others take notice!
ATI has always been a champion of the work NHSA does. We have been honored to work with so many leaders in child education and in doing so we were able to collaborate and develop the Galileo Pre-K Portrait of Child Outcomes. This is a broad array of Head Start programs representing several states that have joined together for several years to create and share important stories about themselves and about children's accomplishments. The Portrait of Child Outcomes has been used by NHSA in making presentations nationwide documenting the contributions of Head Start to early childhood learning. We are privileged to have the opportunity to bring their story to you, click here.
Throughout October, join us in celebrating and advocating for childhood education and development. Learn more about NHSA and how you too can support their efforts. 

Monday, September 2, 2019

Blended Learning Connects Classrooms and At Home Learning

Blended learning has become one of the most used pedagogical concepts for improving instruction both in the classroom and at home. In today’s society we are exposed to technology at every turn and so are the children we teach. We are not escaping the digital age because we are living and working in it every day. Thus, exposing children to digital learning is not trendy, it’s preparing them to be college and career ready.

Blended learning is defined as combining face-to-face instruction with computer-facilitated instruction supporting personalized learning. WestEd, a nonprofit research, development, and service agency aimed to improve education for students, conducted a study on behalf of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to examine how technologies in a blended learning environment could offer enhanced opportunities for both teachers and students.

In their report titled, “Blended Learning and Data Use in Three Technology-Infused Charter Schools,” the authors examined whether the blended learning environments provided greater access to and more diverse data sources for teachers and students from which to make educational decisions. The authors looked at how strongly leadership supported the use of technology, students’ engagement in the learning process, and the flow of data for which decisions were made. It is noted that the opportunities in the teaching and learning process that were made available in this study were opportunities that most likely would not have been possible in a traditional setting.

Three small charter schools in Arizona participated in the study. Middle and high school students were exposed to multiple forms of technology that supported in-person and distant educational experiences.Teachers and administrators were well trained in the use of the technologies and how they could be used to enhance instructional and administrative decision making.

Key findings include:
  • Blended learning environments provide data to teachers and students that may not be readily available in more traditional classes;
  • Blended learning environments provide for anytime and anywhere virtual learning opportunities;
  • Teachers were able to address the needs of particular students through various media and diverse learning experiences;
  • Students were engaged through flexible and customizable learning activities; and
  • The schools exhibited strong leadership, an explicit vision for the use of technology and data, the engagement of students in the teaching and learning process, the enculturation of data use through data teams and data coaches, and the provision of professional learning opportunities.
Today's educators know that the one-size fits all approach to teaching and learning is by far not a successful model. This study demonstrates how adopting a blended learning method is more apt to reach individual learners. The blended learning approach is a hybrid approach and comes in multiple formats including printed, projectable, or digital formats which sharpen critical thinking skills and are the basis for the development of analytic reasoning. As noted in the study blended learning is designed to strengthen the connection between what is being taught and what students practice. Read the full report. 

Monday, August 19, 2019

Every Word Matters in a Mathematical World

Recently, I had the pleasure of listening to Dr. Concepcion “Como” Molina at a company-wide conference. I was vaguely familiar with his teaching concepts, however never had the pleasure of seeing him present. I am always interested in learning and crave new techniques that can save me time and effort.

What happened next, I was not prepared for. Dr. Molina spoke about the language of teaching and learning. How one word can change the meaning in a sentence or can be interpreted in several different ways. For instance, during a lesson on addition, a teacher may verbally ask students to add up numbers in a problem. What does this actually mean? How do students interpret the concept or define what is meant by “add up?”  

Conceptual understanding of various math topics is not as straight forward as you might think. Some students might interpret the concept of “add up” to literally mean place the sum of the numbers at the top of the problem. Thus, adding the numbers in the direction of “up” or at the top of the problem. I found myself stunned and hanging on every word. I wasn’t the only person in the room that had a personal “aha” moment.

Interpretation of adding the sum of an equation “up”.

Dr. Molina continued by explaining the little things that can be done when teaching students at all different levels. He was excited to introduce us to the idea of teaching pre-algebra in grades one through seven because there's so many things that can be taught as far as algebra through arithmetic. The fundamental practice of teaching mathematics, for the most part, is taking things apart, putting them together, or reorganizing them.

I started questioning things and as I looked around the room…I could see the mathematicians’ eyes questioning the concepts as well. I watched as several teachers in the audience were seriously studying his interpretation of what the math equations and symbols COULD mean. You see, Dr. Molina showed us in a very clear and concise way what it is like to read a math problem when you have limited or no English language skills and honestly even students who are native English readers. He shows us how to come at math from a completely different point of view that provides more context and meaning to what you are learning.

Dr. Molina explains that to really understand mathematics you must pay a lot of attention to the language and the symbolism. “We really have to do a better job of increasing the content knowledge of elementary teachers, because as I say, you can't teach what you don't know. It's more about the methods. It's like you're teaching someone to fish as opposed to giving them the fish. You know, if you teach them how to fish then they [teachers] can create a lot of their own stuff and really do a better job of teaching the math that kids need to know,” comments Dr. Molina. It’s about visualization, concrete modeling, approaching it from different perspectives. Teaching is about being mindful of the instructional language that is being used because it’s very easy to change one word in defining a concept that can lead to “adding up.”

Every single one of us comes from somewhere. We all experience different events in our lives that shape who we are. Our families, friends, educators, and everyone in our social circle. This starts at a very young age. We can easily agree that we are all unique individuals with diverse needs. So, with this in mind, why would we expect kids to learn in the same manner? Additionally, understanding our differences and creating a language of learning that includes ALL students is key to providing equality in education. When everyone understands the language, symbolism, and representation of math concepts, teaching and understanding become easier.

“The Problem with Math is English” is Dr. Molina’s new book. He shares his story with humor and wit. His book fills a gap in math education by illustrating how a deeper knowledge of math concepts can be developed in all students through a focus on language and symbolism. The idea about mathematics and the language connection really is not just about EL students, it’s about ALL students.

"In this easy to read book, Como Molina—with rare humor, insight and thoughtfulness—shares many of the lessons he has learned while providing professional development for mathematics teachers in U.S. public schools. Como delightfully challenged my own understandings of the important relationships between mathematical ideas and the language we commonly use to teach them."
—Dr. Stephen Marble, 
Associate Professor of Education, Southwestern University, 
Georgetown , TX

His examples can be profound “aha” moments in your classroom. Decide for yourself and give it a try. As you’re building your curriculum plans for the school year, consider adopting some of his concepts.

I hope you share some of you “aha” moments this fall. Let’s continue to inspire each other. Our passion for education matters and the language of learning continues in every word we speak.

About the Author
Concepcion Molina, Ed.D., is a program associate with SEDL, a private, nonprofit education research, development, and dissemination corporation based in Austin, Texas. Dr. Molina supports systemic reform efforts in mathematics and works to assist state and intermediate education agencies in their efforts to improve instruction and student achievement.

Written by Jody Jepson, Senior Communications Coordinator, Assessment Technology, Incorporated

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

It's Go Time for Galileo K-12 Implementation

ATI and Imagine Learning joined forces in March 2019! While the Galileo K-12 program features you are familiar with such as test scheduling and administration are staying the same, the way you access the Galileo K-12 program and manage user accounts has changed. Review all of the updates below before you begin rostering and testing this year.
Kick off the onboarding process
Start the new 2019-20 rostering and data upload process by completing the Back to School Onboarding Registration form as soon as possible. Once you complete the form, Imagine Learning’s Customer Experience team will reach out to help create your personalized onboarding plan.

TIP! Start the onboarding process with Imagine Learning before you begin rostering for the 2019-20 school year.

Log into Galileo K-12
Logging in via web browser? You and your students will now log into Galileo at You can also access the new URL from the existing ATI staff/student login pages (click the “Login via Imagine Learning” button).

Logging in via Clever SSO? You will log in to Clever the same way you are used to via a new Clever icon.

Roster and manage Galileo K-12 accounts manually If you are rostering and managing classes and accounts manually in Galileo K-12, the student and staff management experience has been updated.

The new Student and Staff Management page can be found in the same place you are familiar with for managing accounts - under the Setup tab.
  • Instructions for how to roster and manage classes and staff/student accounts

Prepare your technology for using Galileo K-12
  • Ensure URLs on the Galileo Whitelist are accessible on network security devices.
  • Confirm that your hardware and software align with Galileo system requirements.

Develop your assessment plan
Finally, don’t forget to develop your assessment plan and testing schedule. It’s time to contact an Educational Management Services coordinator to request the delivery of your tests.

New login in process views from the educator and student login interface
We look forward to being your partner in education. If you have any questions about these steps, please contact the Imagine Learning Customer Care Team at 866.457.8776 (call or text) or

Monday, July 22, 2019

Get Ready for Back-to-School - Order Your Benchmark Assessments Today

Photo by Icons8 team on Unsplash

Its that time of year again! Time to start thinking about ordering your district benchmark assessments.We recommend contacting your ATI Educational Management Services (EMS) coordinator to begin the assessment planning process. EMS staff will help your team to create a comprehensive assessment plan that addresses district/charter goals including: 
  • How many benchmarks assessments will there be during the year?
  • When will benchmark testing occur?
  • Which subjects and grade levels will be tested?
  • Should technology enhanced items be included on assessments? 
EMS staff will work closely and efficiently with you to ensure that the resulting benchmark assessments are of the highest quality. Of course, quality requires time so it is important for you to allow for a 2 week delivery window for pre-made assessments and a 6 week window for assessments aligned to district curriculumCheck out the online Galileo Help Files for resources including the Assessment Planner and Test Review guide. Contact Educational Management Services today.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Tech Edvocate Nominates Galileo K-12

We’re honored to announce that Galileo K-12 has been nominated for the 2019 Tech Edvocate Awards. We are passionate about education and strive everyday to create technology to promote learning for all children. YOU can help Galileo win by casting your vote! 

Simply go to the link below, enter your name and email address, choose “ATI’s Galileo K-12 Comprehensive Assessment System” under the Best Assessment App or Tool category, then hit Submit. It only takes 30 seconds! Popular vote is 20% of the award determination so let’s get together and help Galileo K-12 win! 

Share the link with others to vote as well. Voting ends July 31, so vote today!

Thank you for your support!