Truenorthlogic does not create professional development content but instead provides a platform where all the pieces of professional development can connect with one another. It helps districts manage tasks including tracking certification, evaluations, course catalogues, course enrollment, coaching and mentoring, and improvement plans, and centralizes this information in one place. Districts use Truenorthlogic to support teacher, leader, and professional growth.
Truenorthlogic (TNL) works with large districts and states to configure a customized version of its platform (with over 1,000 points of configuration) to meet the specific needs of an individual district. Configuration points include things like customizing workflows, dates, deadlines, auto notifications, configuring when certain options get locked down, and the sequence it leads users through on the platform.
Schools use the platform to facilitate their professional development delivery systems. The most popular functions used by TNL clients include:
- PD Diagnostic: This tool gives teachers an assessment of their strengths and weaknesses by using multiple points of evaluation data such as classroom observations, anonymous student and family perception surveys, student achievement, and self-assessments. It compares that information to a rubric set by the districts and then uses an algorithm to calculate each teacher’s cumulative score in each domain of the rubric. It also identifies areas for improvement, as well as customized PD resource recommendations;
- PD Learning Management: Districts can use a custom-configured platform to manage professional development course rosters, course registration, and to connect that data back to a teachers’ profile and evaluations. PD opportunities are role-based, meaning that each learner only views PD that is relevant to their role;
- Support Student Learning Objectives: For teachers who don’t have a statewide assessment in their content area, the TNL platform offers alternative assessments, as well as pre- and post-assessment tracking. It then calculates the impact teachers make on their classroom. This can then be included in a teacher’s observation and evaluation (used by the state of Georgia and Washoe);
- Managing Calibration of Observations: Observers use videos to review a teacher’s performance on the platform. Once they are done submitting time stamped comments on the video, they are given an automatic score on how their observations measured up against an ideal set of feedback (used by State of New York, Connecticut, and LAUSD).
Each TNL product is unique to the district for which it was built. Some districts base salary increases on a teachers’ history (within TNL) of PD credits and observation data. Others use it to manage HR functions including recruiting. It is also used to link a teacher’s HR records to their course participation and evaluation records.
TNL is a big ticket item for most school districts. Contracts vary extensively, but start in the $300,000 range.
Users include major districts like New York City, Chicago Public Schools and Los Angeles Unified School District. Georgia, Hawaii, Utah, and Connecticut also have their own platforms created by TNL.
- Purpose: Engage, Learn, Support, Measure
- Primary Users: Teachers, Administrators, School Districts, States
- Cost: Because there is such a range of products, TNL does not provide pricing before a consultation. However, the lowest contracts EdSurge has found on public record start at $300,000. Prices vary based on the software module a district wants to use and the number of users within the district. Contracts are based on an annual licensing fee per user and one-time implementation fee.
- Skill Development: Academic Content, Instructional Skills, Pedagogy
- On-Label Use: School personnel use TNL as an LMS and for a range of HR needs such as professional development and teacher evaluation. TNL can also bring a lot of different types of data together (i.e. LMS, SIS, and HR systems).
- Platforms: Web-based, available on tablets, desktops, and laptops
- Deal breakers: This is a system meant to be purchased by districts or states
- Types of Schools Using It: Large districts and states
Value Added :
Truenorthlogic aims to help districts and states streamline school processes and create digital records for all the district’s systems that relate to teacher development.
Truenorthlogic (TNL) excels at engineering a platform that integrates with other data systems typically used by schools, such as Student Information Systems and other HR portals. It allows schools to tie those records back to each teacher to better inform their professional development.
The system is designed to be adapted to the needs of the state or district customers. TNL will also label its portal for a particular district. For example, the system for Atlanta Public Schools combines all the content providers that serve the area’s schools into a single content catalog and brands it as the “Atlanta Public Schools Professional Learning Center.”
How does it work?
Before schools begin the procurement process with TNL, the district or state should develop a list of requirements and needs. TNL often begins the process by responding to an RFP that districts put out with a list of requirements such as, “it needs to integrate the HR management system the district currently uses with a PD course catalogue.”
Once the district contracts with TNL, the district forms its own cross-functional team, which can include folks from different departments, as well as district system architects, and project managers. TNL then holds a kickoff meeting with the district’s cross functional team and four to six company staff. In this launch meeting, the TNL team uses its proprietary framework to assess the needs of the district and system it could build to meet them. This meeting uncovers many of the technical and process details within the district and lasts multiple days.
TNL then puts together a project plan, including a scope and sequence of features it will rollout. Exactly how long it will take to roll out initial features varies from case to case. The company schedules weekly meetings with the district’s project team to discuss progress and rollout.
Once the platform is built and rolled out to the users (based on the district’s rollout plan), each user will have his or her own personal page and be able to create a portfolio of individualized or district-wide professional goals. The TNL talent management system then does a diagnostic evaluation accessing all the users’ data from the district’s student assessment system, previous evaluations, background information, previous professional development courses, certifications, licensures and any surveys from students.
It weighs that information against a rubric set by the district and uses an algorithm to give users cumulative scores in each domain of the rubric. The diagnostic lists areas of improvement and a customized list of PD resource recommendations designated by the district. They can access all these options directly through the platform.
Further user interaction on the platform could include anything from enrolling and taking online PD courses to recording the interactions between a coach and mentee, which all occur through the TNL system.
Teachers in a district will continue to use the TNL system to do things like enrolling and taking an online PD course, recording interactions with a coach, and setting professional development goals.
TNL does not create content but houses content from other partners. TNL recently launched PD Connect, a marketplace that offers self-paced courses from content providers such as ASCD, Educational Impact, Learning Bridges, and The Master Teacher. PD Connect allows districts to use a pre-purchase or pay-as-you-go model.
For instance: working through TNL, a teacher can search for a course that is aligned to a district goal, register for, and even take a course on the Common Core offered by ASCD. The course results are then saved by TNL and can be catalogued on the teacher’s transcript (which is also kept on the TNL platform).
How is it used?
There are a variety of use cases, depending on the needs of the district and the way they choose to customize the platform. Uses range from HR needs, professional development course sign ups, to resource recommendations and coaching documentation.
School administrative staff can use TNL to manage a school’s HR procedures and records including new teacher hires, onboarding, coaching and mentoring, risk management, evaluation, and succession planning. The system can monitor new hires and recommend courses and coaching to improve upon initial weaknesses (based on the district’s own teaching rubric) that may affect their long-term practice. These recommendations are based on the teacher’s history, credentials and certifications, school-wide goals, and the teacher’s professional learning goals. For example, a new teacher with only one certification would be given different recommendations than a teacher with many.
Districts and states can customize the system to create a professional development plan for all teachers and administrators. District or state administrators can create several PD pathways for teachers based on recorded observation data, where they are in their certification process, and on the subject matter they teach. A district can develop a track that involves steps or courses that lead to a district-wide development goal. For example, a district may have an “Ethics and Equity” improvement goal for the year. The district can assign various workshops, courses, modules, and assignments that teachers are required to complete through the TNL system.
In Atlanta, teachers and administrators are using four independent content providers (including Moodle and Blackboard) for coursework, coaching, and mentoring. TNL worked with the Atlanta Public Schools to integrate the content into one (virtual) place. Via a single login to TNL, teachers and administrators now can get to a unified catalogue of programs; data is also stored in one place on the cloud.
Maryland’s Montgomery County Public School District uses TNL as a unifying human resources system. The company reports that it has helped Montgomery County streamline its recruitment activities, track school vacancies and expedite onboarding, payroll, and tuition reimbursement for new teachers.
The New Teacher Center uses the TNL to track coaching and mentoring interactions between new teachers and their coaches. The center asks its coaches to fill out a record of their coaching interactions with mentees. It then aggregates those forms on the site and shares the data with districts. This consolidation allows a district to see which coaching relationships have the most impact.
Districts can also work with TNL to configure the platform to support specific programs and grants. For instance, TNL has worked with districts to support following programs:
- No Child Left Behind Waivers - TNL aggregates educator effectiveness data including performance management, professional development, student outcomes, human resources, to ensure teachers are directed towards the best growth opportunities.
- Race To The Top - TNL implemented teacher and administrator quality platforms to measure effectiveness in states and districts that have excelled in the Race To The Top program.
- Teacher Incentive Fund - TNL supports requirements for this program such as teacher retention, assessment, and
Incentive Fund - TNL supports requirements for this program like educator
retention, assessment, and performance-based compensation.
Who’s Using It?
During the 2013-2014 school year, TNL supported over 2.8 million registered users and was used by 60 states and school districts including:
- New York City Department of Education
- Los Angeles Unified School District
- Chicago Public Schools
- Georgia Department of Education
- North Carolina Department of Public Instruction
- Hawaii Department of Education
- Utah State Office of Education
- North Carolina Department of Education
TNL serves 9 of the top 20 largest districts and 14% of states in the U.S. Its longest standing relationship is with the Utah State Office of Education.
Content, Content, Content….
TNL does not create content but can integrate and house content from more than a dozen partner organizations including ASCD and Educational Impact. The Professional Learning Management Suite helps districts manage professional learning including registration, credit typing, transcripts, completion certificates, and course evaluations. For example, ASCD offers courses through TNL that cover topics like Common Core, Differentiated Instruction, Learning Technologies, and Community Building. Teachers can self-select courses, or districts can assign courses based on PD needs. All course information is saved to a transcript through TNL, and accessible by the teacher and administration.
Training, Integrating, and Implementing
TNL will send a team of certified trainers to work with the district to do comprehensive trainings and ongoing support. Training sessions are customized for districts based on their needs. However, Truenorthlogic usually uses a train-the-trainer model, in which a select group from the district will be trained by the company, and will then go on to train others.
Training does come at an additional cost. However, this cost is usually bundled into the final contract agreement.
Truenorthlogic is the system in which other systems can be integrated. Other PD sites like PD 360, ASCD, and Teachscape offer courses through their API. TNL brings together multiple systems such as PD, LMS, SIS, and HR systems.
All teachers, administrators, and school personnel receive access to their district’s own TNL site via their HR department. If the HR department already has its own platform and login for users, then all the data from the HR department will be ported over into the TNL system. Users will each have only one login for the whole system, so they can access their account through a single sign on.
Assessment and Data
TNL is designed to provide data on teacher performance and to create plans for future growth. The system displays data via an analytics dashboard and also through color coded graphs. The focus is to provide schools with actionable data, which will help administrators chart plans for teacher professional development, HR needs, certifications, student outcomes, performance management, and so on.
Districts can use over 40 pre-determined reports for different sets of users such as teachers and administrators, such as a evaluation status based on sites or by role, which PD courses have been taken. Users can also customize and run their own reports as well.
The TNL systems are a big-ticket item for school districts. The development of the platform involves the district appointing a dedicated internal team to manage the relationship and customization of the platform. Because of this, it requires quite a bit of resources and upfront cost just to begin the process.
TNL is customizable depending on the district's needs. Users typically need to be online to access the system. Some materials can be downloaded as PDFs or videos and used offline. The entire platform and all the data are stored in the cloud.
Cost depends on the system that is created and how many people will be accessing it.
Arizona Department of Education spent over $300,000 on its platform in October 2012, created by TNL. Connecticut Department of Education spent $589,600 and Washoe County Schools in Reno, NV spent $1.2 million over four years.
Since TNL doesn’t offer the content for professional development, teachers don’t earn PD credit typically for just using the platform. It does collect and track the PD credits that they do earn. Precisely what activities teachers must do to earn credit is established district by district.
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