Ohio Initiative Sparks Widespread Use of Progress Monitoring System in State

An initiative launched by the Ohio Department of Education has led to extensive use of the AIMSweb assessment and data management system throughout the western and central portions of the state. The Web-based software, published by Pearson, has been heavily touted by an extensive network of education professionals throughout the state as a highly effective tool for meeting the goals of the state initiative, specifically using data to assess educational needs, develop interventions, enhance and monitor student improvement.

The state's differentiated accountability model, approved in spring 2008 by the United States Department of Education, was put in place to monitor and assess learning needs for individual students and allow schools, districts, and even state education officials the flexibility and the tools to initiate interventions where necessary in order to work toward the goal of bringing all students up to grade level in reading and math.

As a result of the initiative, Julie Bertling, an early childhood consultant with one of Ohio's regional state support teams, introduced her region's schools to AIMSweb and organized a group of educators and administrators using the system to discuss its various aspects in relation to the initiative and general issues regarding its use. The group met several times during the 2008-09 school year, and members who applied the system reported favorable results.

"During parent-teacher conferences, our teachers used AIMSweb graphs to show parents where their children were compared to the benchmark," explained one educator in Bertling's group, noting that, if the child was below benchmark levels, teachers could then outline the strategies to help that child increase his or her reading rate. Another group member, an elementary school principal, discussed how his district planned to use the system for reading assessments and improvement strategies for grades 3 through 8.

Bertling said group members were also impressed with the extensive reporting capabilities the program offered, adding that the reports were both comprehensive and easy to follow, which greatly aided in both internal record keeping and demonstrating to parents each student's progress throughout the year.

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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.