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Online Learning Tools | News

2 North Carolina Counties Roll Out Online Gaming for Mastery of State Standards

North Carolina districts Pitt County Schools (PCS) and Alamance-Burlington School System (ABSS) have both chosen to implement the Study Island suite of online education tools from Archipelago Learning throughout their respective districts. The software is customized to focus on student mastery of state standards, which in North Carolina is known as the Standard Course of Study, for grades 2 through 12.

The collective goal of Study Island's tools is to create an engaging study and exam prep environment by giving students a choice of online games to play that test their knowledge and progress of the subject and topic being studied. The software also offers a straightforward assessment, giving users the option of either a conventional testing environment or having fun while learning and practicing.

"The Study Island program has proved to be very compelling," said Alisa McLean, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction for Alamance-Burlington Schools. "It teaches students in a more intuitive manner, plus the rewards and reinforcement approach really helps students to advance through the rigorous content."

McLean added that her district also valued the software's individualized instruction and productivity tools, and especially the progress and achievement reporting and the paperless assessments. "The financial benefits," she noted, "are especially helpful in these tough economic times."

All students in grades 3 through 8 are required to take standardized end-of-grade (EOG) tests to demonstrate adequate proficiency in math and reading comprehension. The state also requires an EOG science test for grades 5 and 8. And in high schools statewide, students take end-of-course (EOC) exams for algebra, biology, English, civics and economics, and United States history.

Tim DeCresie, coordinator of instructional technology and media services for PCS, said his district was particularly impressed with the quality of the built-in question bank, from which questions and math problems are drawn for the various practice modes and assessments. A special feature of the question bank is a shuffling function, which allows the answers assigned to each multiple choice selection to vary from session to session. In addition, each of the math questions, while addressing its respective concept consistently, is dynamically generated so that the correct answers themselves will vary. These features are designed to ensure students learn the concepts rather than simply memorize answers.

Pitt County Schools, which serves about 23,700 PK-12 students in 36 schools, is based in Greenville, about 80 miles east of Raleigh, while ABSS, enrolling 22,500 K-12 students in 35 schools, is centered in Burlington, 60 miles west of the capital city. The districts, which both previously used Study Island in select classrooms, announced the county-wide implementations will begin immediately.

About the Author

Scott Aronowitz is a freelance writer based in Las Vegas. He has covered the technology, advertising, and entertainment sectors for seven years. He can be reached here.

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