Our Teachers Need the Right Data Tools Now

Dr. Jim Lewis



The cultural shift only happens when those who have the most impact on our culture … our teachers, are given the right data tools built for them, not for the management and governance level.


Katie Ash, a writer for Education Week and Digital Directions, whose beats include educational technology as well as facilities and transportation, recently wrote about a report emphasizing the importance of building a culture that encourages sharing and use of data within schools to improve teaching and learning —http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/DigitalEducation/2012/11/states_make_gains_on_data_syst.html.  The annual report was released on November 15, 2012 by the Washington-based Data Quality Campaign.


While Katie wrote a solid editorial on the findings in the report and highlighted the main areas of improvement, the big answer is to find a system that makes data extremely easy for teachers to use, easy to apply, and easy to translate into learning plans and goals for children in all levels and all categories K-12 as Silverback Learning’s Mileposts, a results driven educational system currently in schools, already does.  The secret sauce is how teachers can leverage Gooru’s search capabilities directly into individualized learning plans for every child. With technology like Mileposts, which enables educators to pinpoint the exact educational areas where students individually excel or struggle, one can identify student needs and immediately suggest the most appropriate and high-quality learning materials available.


The educational sea-change that our K-12 schools so deeply need as a nation will only happen when teachers and parents get excited about change and empowerment, which is now just beginning to happen in their local classrooms.  Now more than ever the educational industry is in need of knowledge and talent to innovate and create new technologies, which allows every student to perform to their individual best.  Education is worth investing in both financially and philosophically and we see that “kids” are the real investment and beneficiary here and the future of our nation’s sustained economic recovery over time. We have no choice but to integrate those easy to use systems that leverage the power of technology into easy to implement daily routines in the classroom.


The cultural shift can only begin to happen when those who have the most impact on the culture, our teachers, have convenient access to rich and collaborative educational data and resources that can help personalize learning support for each student based on assessed need, and measure it’s effectiveness.  Give them the right data tools built for them, not for the management and governance level.  If those tools are helpful, easy, and quick, teachers will use them and reinforce their efforts to build a data culture from within the school and at home.  Personalized learning is in the spotlight nationally and locally, through nationwide initiatives like Race To The Top – District (RTT-D) and through regional and state incentives to link teacher evaluations to individual student growth in achievement. But teaching to the specific personal needs of each student won’t happen everywhere all at once– it requires a synergy of resources and tools that enable mass-personalization, plus teaching professionals who readily accept the tools because they work quickly, intuitively, and as an extension to the teacher’s daily routine.


The Silverback Learning+ Gooru relationship represents the perfect confluence of educators from every possible setting (urban, rural, low income, high income, low/high-performing, etc,) empowered with state-of-the-art technology that educators use because it works. The proof point is Silverback’s tremendous acceptance across the United States, where in a single year we have grown from placements in 1 state to 11 states in every region of the country (West: CA, ID, MT, NV, WY, Midwest: IL, South: OK, NC, Northeast: CT, NH, VT.)  The strategy is to continue to effect change within states and local districts in every region by matching the company’s educator focus to the organizations that help empower local teachers with solutions.  Districts who are revolutionizing student achievement with Mileposts and now Gooru have become great ambassadors within their region and their state.  As more and more people come to know the power and simplicity of the Silverback + Gooru tools, and use those tools to register and maintain their own teaching strategies and resources, the network effect can drive the usefulness of the tools and the success of students served by the tools exponentially.

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Posted: November 21st, 2012