Categories: Viewpoint

How 3 R’s Can Help Facilitate Standards Mastery and Personalized Instruction

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If you need a few ideas on how to help your students master the Common Core or state standards, look no further than the letter R. Three to be exact:

  1. Rubrics
  2. Reporting
  3. Remediation

By understanding how to leverage each of these elements more effectively, you can provide more personalized instruction to your students, and get them well on their way toward standards-based mastery.

1. Rubrics

You’ve likely been using performance rubrics regularly in your classroom that either you or your district has developed to help assess your students against standards. If you’re new to rubrics, here’s a quick definition:

Performance rubrics contain a set of criteria that define how well a student has applied the knowledge and skills contained in a standard, or learning objective. Rubrics can have any number of assessment criteria, and multiple levels (i.e. advanced, proficient, basic, below basic).

Following are a few tips on how to get the most from your rubrics:

  • Clearly communicate assessment criteria to your students: Students need to know what is expected of them in order to be successful. If your learning platform, or other system allows, link the assessment criteria and standards to individual assignments so that students can easily access, understand and work toward them.
  • Provide feedback on specific rubric criteria, as well as overall feedback: When providing feedback to your students regarding their work, go beyond just providing feedback at the overall rubric level. Concentrate on individual criteria you want the student to focus on by providing specific, informative feedback regarding that criteria.Ideally, your learning platform or gradebook system should allow you to enter both overall and criteria-specific feedback for rubrics that you can then easily share with students, parents and administrators to communicate progress and areas for improvement.Grant Wiggins’ Seven Keys to Effective Feedback can give you some good ideas for how to improve the feedback you provide to your students.
  • Don’t reinvent the wheel: Online educator Andrew Miller, who wrote Tips for Designing and Using Rubrics, advocates creating and sharing rubric templates for similar performance tasks in order to help streamline the assessment process and help build student confidence.“In terms of common rubrics, students need routines, and what better way to create that routine than with a common rubric for a department or grade level?“ he writes.Check to see if your learning platform or other system allows for sharing rubrics with teachers in your school, district, and even the wider teaching community.

2. Reporting

With the staggering amount of student data available these days, it can be overwhelming to know how to best analyze this data to assist your students in mastering state or Common Core standards.

Here are a few hints to help you get started:

  • Focus on reports that specifically address performance against learning objectives: These reports should allow you to see the percentage of students who have mastered each course standard, as well as number of students who have met, not met, or exceeded the standards. You should also be able to view the progress of each student against each course standard over time.
  • Get granular: Looking at an overall score for an assessment that covers several different standards only gives you one side of the story. Drill down to more granular information to find out progress against each, individual standard.Why? A student might have scored well against most of the standards, but may not have mastered a particular standard that could be critical for future learning. These are areas in which you can identify opportunities for remediation and recommendation.
  • Share progress with students, parents and administrators: Your learning platform or learning management system should make it easy for you to automatically share student reports with all stakeholders. Some even provide parents with a login to a parent portal, which allows the parent to choose individual students among siblings to track progress.


3. Remediation and Recommendation

When students are not achieving learning objectives, you will need to provide them with some type of intervention. You may want to keep in mind the following when considering correctional instruction:

  • Identify those not meeting standards and take action: By looking at reports that identify which standards students have failed to master, you can begin to think about how to best provide remediation and recommendations to help move them closer to mastery. In addition, you should also consider providing enrichment activities to those who have met the standards, allowing those students to further internalize and attain a deeper grasp of the concepts learned.
  • Choose activities appropriate for students learning styles: Rather than re-teaching the same material to struggling students, take the time to assign activities appropriate for individual students’ learning styles.Students in Forsyth County Schools (Forsyth County, Ga.) complete a Learning Styles Inventory in the beginning of the school year that indicates which type of learning they prefer (auditory, visual, or kinesthetic). According to Mike Evans, director of information and instructional support systems at Forsyth County, the district has invested the resources to tag each of their 13,000+ digital learning resources with the appropriate learning style so that teachers can personalize the content assigned to their students.
  • Let your learning platform work for you: Finding the time to choose appropriate activities for corrective instruction (or enrichment) is challenging enough, let alone personalizing those activities for individual students.If possible, let your learning platform do the heavy lifting for you. Forsyth County’s learning platform allows teachers to view a listing of students not meeting standards, and at the click of a button, automatically recommends personalized activities for each of those students, while still allowing teachers to choose which activities are most appropriate.Because the district’s massive library of digital learning resources are all aligned to Common Core or Georgia State Standards, as well as tagged with appropriate learning styles, the system can recommend learner-specific activities to help students move toward standards mastery.

    “It doesn’t take the teacher out of the picture, but it sure does streamline it quite a bit, and as quickly as a teacher can come in here after an assessment is scored, it gives these additional recommendations to help the students progress along in a much more rapid fashion,“ says Mike.

To see how you can best use rubrics, reporting and recommendations in itslearning, view the video, itslearning’s Standards Mastery Reporting and Recommendation Engine.