Reynoldsburg wants its teachers to be like doctors, diagnosing students' academic ills and prescribing the right treatment. If the federal government approves Reynoldsburg's bid for a $20 million Race to the Top district grant this month, that plan could become a reality. The U.S. Department of Education is to announce the recipients of $400 million in grants by Dec. 31. Reynoldsburg is one of three Ohio finalists for a grant.
Reynoldsburg wants its teachers to be like doctors, diagnosing students’ academic ills and prescribing the right treatment.
If the federal government approves Reynoldsburg’s bid for a $20 million Race to the Top district grant this month, that plan could become a reality.
The U.S. Department of Education is to announce the recipients of $400 million in grants by Dec. 31. Reynoldsburg is one of three Ohio finalists for a grant.
District leaders and a team from the Battelle Center for Analytics and Public Health propose creating a Web-based tool that instantly lists interventions and services — in the school and community — that best serve students based on their “symptoms.”
For example, teachers could tell the program that a student is disruptive in class or is making slow progress with a certain math lesson. It would list options such as online lessons, a regrouping of students by ability, or after-school tutoring by a local day-care center.
Battelle statisticians also would study student test results over time to measure the effectiveness of those practices.
“It’s a way of standardizing interventions,” said Warren Strauss, director of research operations for the Battelle center. “It’s not only finding out what works and finding out what the options are for the schoolteacher, but what ... services are provided in the community.”
He said it now might take teachers and parents days or even weeks to come up with a plan and see how well it works.
By plugging in specific triggers based on teacher observation or test results, educators can respond instantly to provide extra help or enrichment opportunities.
“It’s a game-changer,” Superintendent Steve Dackin said.
Officials say the data-analytics tool would position teachers to make better choices for students.
“The whole point of this vision is to vastly expand the opportunities for students to pick up skills and knowledge they need to be successful when they leave us,” said district spokeswoman Tricia Moore.
“We can not only leverage resources from teachers, but also the rich resources we have in this community. In order to do that well, we have to have systems in place to tell us what works and what doesn’t.”
Beyond prescribing solutions for students, the data-analytics program would allow the district to collect much more-sophisticated information, such as measuring students’ knowledge from informal situations such as a vacation to Virginia or an internship at a hospital, officials said.
“We’re going to look at more of the inputs, outputs and the contributions to student success,” said Lisa Duty, senior director of innovation at KnowledgeWorks, a Cincinnati-based education-reform group. The district also has partnered with KnowledgeWorks as part of pursuing the grant.
“In this larger, expanded universe, that is the future of education,” Duty said. “I’m not aware of anyone that is approaching the future of learning quite like we intend to.”
Reynoldsburg and Battelle also have asked for an additional $2 million to use the analytics tool for other districts across the state.
David Schottner, president of the Reynoldsburg Education Association and a first-grade teacher at Summit Road STEM Elementary School, said teachers are constantly using data — most of it academic — to drive learning.
But the data-analytics program would funnel a variety of information on students that would give teachers a portrait of each student and how the child learns.
“It’s huge,” he said. “This will really ... help us do what we don’t have time for, which is an individualized education plan for each child in the classroom.”