Smart Classroom

Pearson GradPoint and Schoolnet Programs Get Updates

Pearson Education has updated two popular K-12 products, Schoolnet and GradPoint.

Schoolnet is a district instructional management system that brings together standards, assessments, curriculum development and student and parent communication. The new release, Schoolnet 17, bolsters the capabilities of formative assessments and reporting and includes new tools for teacher management of curriculum. Initially released for trials in mid-2015, the new version includes these updates, among others:

  • A new interface for test and item editing, intended to make the authoring process "more efficient and intuitive," including a new standards selector tool that allows teachers to search by text or standard ID;
  • Summary reports for district- and school-level, system-wide and state-wide observations that support new calculations relevant for each group of users;
  • Inclusion in the Educator Development Suite (EDS) Dashboard of a Web page with predictive searching; and
  • The ability for administrators to "surface" educator effectiveness measures in an individual's profile.

Greenville's Pitt County Schools was one of Pearson's first customers for the new release. The district began using the application about three years ago and has continued delivering professional development to its teachers to help them learn how to teach from the standards and use assessment data.

"The assessments in Schoolnet are closely aligned to the end-of-grade tests," said K-8 Math Curriculum Coach Heidi Criswell in a press release. "Once teachers see how easy Schoolnet is to use, they rely on it more and more and their students are doing better on the end of grade tests."

GradPoint 2.0, the company's updated courseware and digital learning system for grades 6-12, is focused on more personalization of the learning experience and includes new features such as access to open educational resources (OER), badges and self-assessment. Among the new features are these:

  • A new set of templates lets teachers set up projects for individuals or teams of students;
  • Dashboards have been updated to enable the teacher to customize the view and include a roster of students in all of their courses vs. the previous limit of viewing the roster only by course;
  • Teachers will be able to see student self-assessment, badges awarded, a visual progress indicator and pacing and performance information;
  • Teachers can more extensively customize the catalog of 350-plus courses to include access to OER materials and digital badges aligned with academic goals;
  • Students can provide self-assessment as a form of course reflection and transmit that to their teachers. They can also view a "stream" in their courses of teacher interactions; and
  • The gradebook has a new interface that allows teachers to review a student's module completion progress or review assigned activities, whether those were student- or teacher-assigned.

Mountain Education Charter High School (MECHS), based in Cleveland, GA, delivers a year-round program to help "at-risk" students earn their high school degrees through blended learning. MECHS has used GradPoint for two years to provide self-paced courses. Each student follows a "life action plan" with learning objectives posted in the Pearson program.

The use of GradPoint has given MECHS a curriculum with a "very high bar," said Dianne Hardy, a math teacher, in a press release. "The rigor of it," she noted, "prepares students for post-secondary education."

In that same statement, Pearson's Director for "new school models," Mickey Revenaugh, added that "blended learning requires three things: a meaningful online component, a significant, supervised onsite component and data capture that allows for personalized instruction." The new release "now provides the support for personalization that is necessary for a successful blended learning environment."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.