Individualized Instruction for Improved Student Achievement - Education's 'Holy Grail'
In our quest for individualized instruction and improved student achievement, many educators endure a revolving door of often untested programs and lecture sessions delivered by industry pundits. This includes many hours of additional planning during "free time" on nights and weekends. And while teachers are exhausted, many still feel guilty about not being able to produce the "holy grail" to meet students' needs.
The Technology Solution
Regardless of how hard teachers and administrators work, it is difficult for teachers to provide one-to-one instruction. They are dealing with larger class sizes now than ever before - with an average of 25 students in elementary classrooms and 150 students a day in high school classes. In addition, teachers are required to ensure that every student is being taught at his or her appropriate instructional level and that all of the instruction meets state standards for each particular grade level. One of the main challenges in education today is the assurance that each teacher will give every student this individualized instruction, including remediation on grade-level work or enrichment, which is necessary. Effective, individualized instruction for student achievement requires that:
- Students are assessed on a formative basis throughout the year;
- Appropriate instruction is assigned and delivered immediately upon completion of the assessment;
- Assignments are right at the students' point of instructional need;
- Assignments are engaging and provide personalized support, tutorials and opportunities for practice;
- Assignments contain embedded assessments to determine the point of mastery so students can move forward; and
- Data is available for teachers to track student progress and for administrators to determine whether districts are meeting AYP goals.
It seems like daunting work - and it often is. However, current research shows that there is a solution: technology. One would be hard-pressed to find any other industry functioning in such a highly specialized area without technological support, as is often the case in education. The intricate and highly demanding job of teaching cannot be successfully carried out without technology - although it is still frequently overlooked by educators who continue to believe that print materials are the status quo or by those who favor adding more people into the mix. Adding more teachers may help somewhat, but unless we can provide one-to-one instruction, we - and more important, our students - will still fail. This is where technology can make the difference.
As an educational technology company committed to planning and developing ways for educators to be successful in providing individualized instruction and in helping to ensure that no child is left behind, CompassLearning has developed a solution that enables teachers to provide that essential level of individualized instruction through:
- Assessments that are ongoing - providing students, educators and parents with immediate feedback about student progress;
- Assessments that are content valid (no racial, ethnic or gender bias) and reliable (providing the same results in different geographies);
- Assessments that prescribe a path of instruction for each child based on his or her performance;
- Assignments that are aligned to state standards and that provide engaging activities with audio and visual instruction, tutorials and practice;
- Assignments that contain embedded assessments so students can move forward at the point of mastery or receive extra remediation at the point of need; and
- Data that is aligned to standards and available for students, teachers, administrators and parents.
Educators' work is challenging, especially given the current state of change. We must all work together to expand our thinking and continue to develop effective and efficient solutions. Our collective goal must be student success, and only by working together can we help everyone involved reach the holy grail.
This article originally appeared in the 02/01/2004 issue of THE Journal.