Midwest 1504659834

Iowa Public School District Seeks Writing Tool to Bridge Learning Gaps

This district is looking for a writing solution to bridge learning gaps, provide students with more opportunities to practice writing, and allow for frequent and useful writing feedback.

State: Iowa Number of Students: 32,979
School Type: Public School District Free and Reduced Lunch: 74.1%
Gravel Level: PK-12
English Language Learners: 21.0%

School Context

The district is located in Iowa and has over sixty two sites which include K-12 and educates approximately 33,000 students. The district calculates that 72.34% are on free and reduced lunch. In the Spring of 2014, they began the journey to expand and enhance the use of technology. They believe blended learning delivery models are catalysts and enablers for personalized learning and offer the district a vehicle for optimizing the instructional design toward personalization.


State of Technology

After five years with Common Core, the district has found profound gaps in teaching and learning in writing. The ACT writing scores are not where the district would like them. Additionally, teachers are frustrated by the unmanageable task of providing adequate feedback for the standard reference grading system they adhere to.

They currently use traditional writing instruction and use Pearson's Writing Coach text as a their primary method of instruction and are happy with this solution as part of the core instruction. However, they feel the tool does not allow students to write and rewrite, track progress, or allow for feedback in an effective way that is manageable.


Tech Needs & Requirements

The district is looking for a robust supplemental writing tool that can allow for students to write recursively, reflectively and often. The tool should include features that support several categories.

The writing tasks should be aligned with Common-Core standards. Students should be allowed to work on different writing assignments at different times. Prompts are a must, but supplemental readings would be a nice feature but are not required. Teachers should be able to assign writing assignments that are pre-made and/or have the ability to curate and upload their own assignments. Ideally, the tool will provide a personalized learning path for individual students based upon their writing needs.

Ideally, the tool should provide some immediate feedback to the student (spelling, basic grammar etc.) so that teachers can be free to work with other students on more serious revisions and improvements. Students should be able to track progress on how they are doing. The feedback should be actionable. Teachers should be able to comment on student writing and students should be able to respond. Peer review and collaborative feedback is preferred

Teachers should be able to easily grade using a rubric if the tool does not have an automatic scoring system built in. Teachers must be able to create their own rubrics if the pre-made rubrics are not aligned with the districts' standards. The tool should support standards referenced grading. If the tool had a pre and post test, or diagnostic feature, that would be a nice feature to have but it is not required. The tool should have data reporting built into the feature.

Students should have some control over their pace and have the ability to choose the topic of the writing assignment (preferred). Peer review and guidance is baked into the district's practice and it would be highly preferred if the tool was able to accommodate for student collaboration.

Teachers should be able to assign, create, and evaluate student work. However, they should be free to troubleshoot bigger writing issues while students are able to fix smaller issues on their own with aid from the tool. Teachers should have as much control over rostering and data access as possible. Teachers should be allowed to change presentation language and adjust time allowed for response. Additionally, if there is a feature that supports adding digitized speech support, that is preferred.

The tool must provide content that is common-core aligned, have measurable data, allow teachers to be able to create or upload rubrics and have automatic feedback to give easy (not time consuming) feedback. The school provides PC laptops, 2:1 ratio with plans to repurchase new laptops in the future, making it more 1:1. All tools should be browser-based and/or neutral. Data should be measurable and useful. Integration with Active Directory will be highly preferred and the data should be able to be downloaded into a CSV file. The tool must integrate with Active Directory.

*Content from 2015

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