Assessment | News

Mississippi School District Receives $115k Writing Assessment Grant

Vantage Learning presented a $115,200 grant late last month to a Mississippi school district to help improve students' writing skills.

Specifically, the monies, which are distributed as part of the Vantage Learning Keystone Partner Program, are intended to help 2,400 students at nine schools in Harrison County School District prepare for the Mississippi Writing Assessment.

The Vantage Learning Keystone Partner Program locates K-12 districts that are committed to literacy with a focus on writing across all subjects. Those schools then use MY Access! and other Vantage Learning tools. The assessment uses student test results to develop targeted professional development for teachers.

MY Access! features include:

  • More than 1,300 writing topics in math, science, language arts, and social studies that are aligned to state or common core standards;
  • Teachers have the ability to create their own prompts matching specific curriculum needs;
  • Pre-writing tools, including graphic organizers and printable resources;
  • An instant overall score on writing assignments, and scores in the categories of: focus and meaning, content and development, organization, language use, voice, and style, and mechanics and conventions;
  • MY Tutor!, which provides revision plans with examples, to help students with their strengths and weaknesses;
  • MY Editor!, which helps students identify mistakes in grammar, mechanics, style, and usage, and provides recommendations for improvement;
  • MY Access, which allows students and teachers to communicate directly through the Web-based software;
  • Intellimetric, which provides automatic essay scoring and feedback to students;
  • Teachers can provide instruction, feedback, and comments to individual students; and
  • Multilingual support.

"What really impressed me about the program is the immediate feedback and that it promotes writing as a process," said Judy Boyd, director of assessment for the Mississippi Curriculum Test, in a prepared statement. "Writing is a very important area of education. It is an area that is not enhanced as much as possible because of the time required to effectively provide feedback to students."

Harrison County School District serves students from K-12 in portions of Gulfport, D'Iberville, Lyman, Saucier, portions of Biloxi, and most of rural Harrison County. The district has 13 elementary, five middle, and four high schools. It also runs an alternative school and child development center.

For more information, visit the Vantage Learning Web site.

About the Author

Tim Sohn is a 10-year veteran of the news business, having served in capacities from reporter to editor-in-chief of a variety of publications including Web sites, daily and weekly newspapers, consumer and trade magazines, and wire services. He can be reached at timothyjsohn@gmail.com and followed on Twitter @editortim.

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