AIMing for Success: How JFYNet Supports Teachers and Students

AIMing for Success: How JFYNet Supports Teachers and Students [AIMS Methodology]

by Cathie Maglio, JFYNet Learning Specialist

Assess, Instruct, Measure, Support

The JFYNet program is based on a methodology we call AIMS: Assess, Instruct, Measure, Support. These are the necessary components of any instructional program, online or otherwise. Assessment tells us the skill level of the student and shows where help is needed. Instruction is organized according to the assessment. Ongoing measurement, or formative assessment, keeps track of the student’s progress through the year. Support consists of ongoing consultation and coaching for teachers.

Here is an example of the AIMS methodology in action.

Assess: The data below were generated by an assessment we created in our math software to determine the grade-level proficiency of incoming 9th graders in one of our schools. It was given to 178 incoming 9th graders. The assessment covered 20 state curriculum standards, two from 7th grade, eight from 8th grade and ten from 9th grade.

AIMS Figure 1.0 [AIMS Methodology]

This assessment will be used as both a pre-test in the fall and a post-test in the spring to capture growth. We included 7th and 8th grade standards because 9th graders should be proficient at those grade levels. If there are gaps, they need to be addressed so that students have the tools for 9th grade material. We did not expect complete proficiency on 9th grade standards, which are new to these students, but the results are valuable guideposts for teachers in focusing curriculum.

Instruct: After the assessment is given and the data analyzed, we work with teachers to create and implement an Instructional Plan. JFYNet creates assignments for the students based on the assessed standards. These assignments are organized to help students strengthen the skills they need to reach grade level.

Measure: After the assessment was completed, we analyzed the results of the first ten questions– the 7th and 8th grade standards. We generated a report using the color code we use in all our math program reports: green indicates the answer was correct on the first try; yellow means the correct answer was achieved on multiple tries; red shows that the correct answer was not given; blue means the student skipped the question. This report shows the percent of tested students in each category. (We also tabulate the number of students in each category.) Our proficiency goal for this group on material they should have mastered in earlier grades was 75% answering correctly on the first try. Here are the results.

7th grade standards

As expected, students were proficient in the two 7th grade standards. Only 7% answered incorrectly or skipped.

AIMS Figure 2.0 [AIMS Methodology]

8th grade standards

Students did not demonstrate proficiency in these standards. No standard showed 75% correct first tries: only three of the eight standards logged 50% or higher. Four standards had less than 25% correct first tries, though two of those standards had high percentages on multiple tries. These are 8th grade standards on which 9th graders should be firm.

AIMS Figure 3.0 [AIMS Methodology]

Based on these results, we advised teachers that the incoming 9th graders were not firmly proficient on 8th grade standards, and that these skills would need to be retaught to establish a firm foundation for 9th grade work.

This is where the Instruction part of the AIMS methodology comes in. We created an Instruction Plan in our math software covering all eight 8th grade standards to bring this class of 9th graders up to grade level. Teachers can use the Plan with a whole class or assign some or all of it to individual students based on their performance on the assessment. (Teachers have each student’s individual report.)

Support: JFYNet Learning Specialists, such as myself, will be available to support teachers in implementing the Plan via email or phone, in online office hours, in formal online training sessions, or in individual trouble-shooting consults on request. We provide professional development and coaching throughout the year.

This is just one example of JFYNet’s AIMS methodology in action. JFYNet can create assessments based on standards from grades 6 – 12, and then analyze the results and develop data-driven instructional plans.

Before I sign off on this post, I want to acknowledge that there has been controversy over the use and usefulness of educational standards and standardized tests ever since Napoleon rolled out the baccalaureate in 1808. Data-driven though we are at JFYNet, we do not consider standardized tests the goal of education. They are a measuring instrument that provides teachers and students (and districts and states) with information. Teachers need a way to assess each student’s level of content mastery in order to assign appropriate instruction. The AIMS methodology provides that information and supports it with instructional guideposts for teachers and students to help keep the long journey of education on track. That has always been our AIM.

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