FineTune is an online professional development tool that helps teachers grow their ability to critically evaluate and respond to student writing. The result is consistent, calibrated, and CCSS-aligned assessment of student writing across a group of teachers and across curricular subjects.
FineTune presents the teachers with anonymized student essays in four levels of difficulty spanning grades 6-12 across all three types of writing recommended by the Common Core: narrative, argumentative, and informational/explanatory. Teachers score these essays on a six-point scale using a five-category writing rubric aligned with the Common Core. After submitting those scores, the teacher can compare her or his scores with those of a normed group of teachers, followed by an explanation of the latter’s scores. If none of the teacher’s scores deviate by more than one point from the normed group’s, the teacher receives credit for having met the minimum criteria for calibration. If the teacher meets the minimum or maximum criteria on three essays in a row, he or she is approved as a Reader or Senior Reader of double-blind common writing assessments. Finally, because it is cloud-based, teachers can access it through their AcademicMerit teacher portal anywhere with internet access.
FineTune is one element of AcademicMerit's integrated suite of tools that also includes A21 and Literary Companion. FineTune is sold to both schools and individuals on an annual-subscription, per-teacher basis as either a stand-alone product or as part of the suite of tools. AcademicMerit has designed its products to be complementary; for example, teachers trained using FineTune can participate in scoring student essays in A21 common and formative assessments – with the resulting data allowing them to better gauge the impact their professional learning has had on student performance.
AcademicMerit was founded in 2008 by Ogden Morse, who also founded Lyceum Communications (developer of the award winning web-based vocabulary program Get A Clue). The company’s primary mission is to help schools answer three questions fundamental to both teaching and learning: “Where are we?", "Where do we go from here?" and "How do we get there?" AcademicMerit built FineTune in response to the outdated and ineffective professional development tools they had used as educators.
The AcademicMerit team consists of nine veteran edtech entrepreneurs, educators, designers, and developers based in Portland, Maine. Since the FineTune product was released in 2012, it is being used across at least three school sites. FineTune won the EdTech Digest Cool Tools Award for Professional Development for 2012.
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-Let teachers and students work together to create their own rubrics!
-Lower grade application?
-Math and science applications!
I would encourage the developers to include an interactive component to their product so teachers can talk with one another, ask jest ions, or form affinity groups for future collaborations. I would also create the opportunit...