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Building a Web of Support for Students: What We Learned

Building a Web of Support for Students: What We Learned

Abbas Manjee

Abbas Manjee

Chief Academic Officer, Kiddom

Abbas Manjee is Chief Academic Officer at Kiddom. Before Kiddom, Abbas taught high school math serving at-risk youth in New York City. 

This is the 2nd blog of a 2-part series around Early Warning Response Systems. Learn more about what we hoped to achieve in the first blog here.

Traditionally, schools have held academic data at the core of intervention frameworks. Student performance is often what determines funding, reaches families, and defines the success of a learning community. But functionally, schools are so much more than report card dispensaries. They act as community pillars by offering social support, enrichment opportunities, flu shots, ballot boxes, and everything in between.

The role of an educator is expected to cover the same breadth—but without giving the same weight to student interests and circumstances as we give to performance data. What would it take to enable a holistic approach to intervention in schools? Earlier this year, I was fortunate enough to visit Greenville County Schools in South Carolina and find out.

"Every staff member is a student advocate."

-- Jeff McCoy, Associate Superintendent for Academics at Greenville County Schools

The OnTrack Greenville intervention framework draws from three fundamental indicators of regression: attendance, behavior, and course completion (ABCs). The data is kept simple, making it much easier for teachers to input and refer to it as frequently as they find it necessary or helpful. But to combine these three factors and assess the full picture as intended, there needs to be more than one observer and contributor. 

Upon observation, it’s more suitable to label their early warning response system as a network: schools and districts can’t initiate an RTI without respondents, or enable an MTSS without supporters. Every staff member is trained on protocols and brought into the framework for intervention. By tapping on the professional instincts and dexterity of every employee, OnTrack Greenville provides each student with multiple layers of support.

The Playbook

With the OnTrack framework, Greenville County can take targeted action to prevent delays in matriculation. For individual students, these include interventions such as reading support, counseling, speech therapy, and 1:1 instruction. At the classroom level, OnTrack lends itself to equity for students by pondering the questions: 

  • Are all teachers managing behavior issues the same way? 
  • Do the final grades in a course match student data on individual assignments?

Schools can use an early warning response system like Greenville’s to support social-emotional development and academic performance side by side. Principals at OnTrack schools can expect to see absenteeism and behavior incidents drop by at least 25% year over year.

The ability to merge data with qualitative instincts should be the standard for schools—not a privilege.

Of the 101 schools in the district, it has taken nearly 10 years to implement the OnTrack framework at 30 Greenville schools. It is expensive, both in human time and money—principals are out of the building for a day and a half each month, and weekly staff meetings can take 90 minutes or more. Most notably, responding to a regression in attendance simply must take place outside of the school. To intervene, a staff member might drive to a student’s house and offer to bring them to school, or meet with the guardians present.

Greenville County was able to build their early warning response system thanks in large part to a generous $9 million donation by the United Way. Many school districts will never catch the same luck, and they shouldn’t have to: the ability to merge data with qualitative instincts should be the standard for K-12 education—not a privilege. 

At Kiddom, we’re imagining a future with no barriers to schools that want to comprehensively support their students. The most remarkable takeaway from our visit to Greenville was immersing into a network that proves these conditions are within reach.

At a typical Kiddom school, hands are in the air, there’s a buzz in the room, and teachers and students are energized. Kiddom was designed to help improve teacher retention and increase student performance and graduation rates.

For the first time, the most important parts of teaching and learning are connected and simplified in Kiddom. Curriculum lives in one place and is easily measured and refined, instruction is personalized to meet the needs of each student, and data serves as a powerful system of support for every member of the learning community to keep students on track.

What People Are Saying

“Kiddom is great for assessing data and then assigning appropriate work based on individual student performance. I love that it's very easy to attach standards and rubric to every assignment.”

Jackie Curts, Middle School Teacher

“Using Kiddom has made me stop and ask, ‘Am I just letting this student repeat what they already know, or am I really challenging them?’”

Ann Leghorn, High School Literacy Specialist

“I can see where my class and any student is at any moment in their educational journey. This way, I can take action to assist them to work towards mastery.”

Mr. Albrecht, High School Teacher

Welcome Back to School: A Letter From Our CAO

Welcome Back to School: A Letter From Our CAO

Abbas Manjee

Abbas Manjee

Chief Academic Officer, Kiddom

Abbas Manjee is Chief Academic Officer at Kiddom. Before Kiddom, Abbas taught high school math serving at-risk youth in New York City. 

A little back to school cheer -- This week all Kiddom employees (many of whom are former educators) received the following letter from our Chief Academic Officer, Abbas Manjee. We were super inspired by it, so we had to share!

Kiddom Team,

School is officially back in session.  

This time of year impacts an entire ecosystem of folks we serve:

  1. Students, who may be excited to reconnect with friends and keep learning to feed their budding curiosity 
  2. Teachers, who may be ecstatic to implement the good and hard lessons learned last year
  3. Administrators, who may be anxious to see their school or district vision implemented with fidelity
  4. Parents/Guardians, who may be so proud of their kids they might cry alone in the car the morning the first day of school

To kick this season off, I'd like you to meet Mr. Smith (name anonymized for privacy):

 

Mr. Smith is the proud father of Jack (also anonymized), who consistently struggled in high school. On this day, Mr. Smith learned his son had passed a key mathematics exam, which had been preventing Jack from graduating high school for three consecutive years. I was Jack’s math teacher, but I had never met his father. Mr. Smith showed up to my school and demanded to see me. Our school administrative assistant called me out of the classroom and pointed me out to him. 

Mr. Smith came running at me like a madman. He lifted me up, and shortly after this photo was taken, he put me down and started sobbing on my shoulder. School is a funny place. It's where families come together to share and make their hopes and dreams a reality. 

Four years ago, Kiddom evolved from offering math games on iPads to a platform designed to support all teachers. The work of teachers impacts generations at scale. All of us have been inspired, challenged, and elevated by teachers. They've guided, supported, and provided us with a bedrock of knowledge that will forever shape who we are. 

Don't forget that. 

As such, it's imperative we connect our day-to-day work back to the people we truly work for. Every code review, every outbound sequence, and every UI mock at Kiddom can significantly impact young people. It's critical we focus even harder in the coming weeks, months, and years because the young people we serve today are growing up in a time where the future appears less promising than the future we were brought up in (e.g. here, here, and here).

Ultimately, I don't care about making a list on Business Insider. We need to work harder towards unlocking potential for teachers and learners because our work helps prepare young people to make data-informed decisions about themselves and the world around them. And young people are our future.

Get some rest this weekend; the world doesn't change itself.

Thank you,

-  Abbas

At a typical Kiddom school, hands are in the air, there’s a buzz in the room, and teachers and students are energized. Kiddom was designed to help improve teacher retention and increase student performance and graduation rates.

For the first time, the most important parts of teaching and learning are connected and simplified in Kiddom. Curriculum lives in one place and is easily measured and refined, instruction is personalized to meet the needs of each student, and data serves as a powerful system of support for every member of the learning community to keep students on track.

What People Are Saying

“Kiddom is great for assessing data and then assigning appropriate work based on individual student performance. I love that it's very easy to attach standards and rubric to every assignment.”

Jackie Curts, Middle School Teacher

“Using Kiddom has made me stop and ask, ‘Am I just letting this student repeat what they already know, or am I really challenging them?’”

Ann Leghorn, High School Literacy Specialist

“I can see where my class and any student is at any moment in their educational journey. This way, I can take action to assist them to work towards mastery.”

Mr. Albrecht, High School Teacher

You might also be interested in these articles:

Introducing Responsive Curriculum Management

Introducing Responsive Curriculum Management

Abbas Manjee

Abbas Manjee

Chief Academic Officer, Kiddom

Abbas Manjee is Chief Academic Officer at Kiddom. Before Kiddom, Abbas taught high school math serving at-risk youth in New York City. 

Responsive Curriculum Management provides visibility into classroom progress so you can build systems of continuous improvement

Well-designed curriculum affords teachers the opportunity to help students meaningfully connect with the subject matter and engage in deeper learning. In fact, a growing body of research confirms curriculum is a critical factor in academic success.

While these findings might seem obvious, measuring the efficacy of curriculum gets tricky because of the diverse nature of classrooms: teachers modify curriculum to best suit their students, based on the resources and training available to them, and their preferred teaching style. This is what makes teaching and learning beautiful and so powerfully personal.

However, some consistency across classrooms and schools can help school and district leaders make better meaning of student achievement data. Without clear and consistent learning goals and strong curricular design, it can be challenging for administrators to ensure transparency, accountability, and alignment across learning communities.

What Challenges Exist Today?

Two challenges make measuring and improving curriculum difficult for administrators.

The first is that curriculum artifacts are generally disconnected from teachers’ day-to-day work. Whether curriculum is purchased from a publisher, adopted from a free provider (e.g. EngageNY), or completely custom, it generally lives in either a curriculum management product or Google Drive/Microsoft Office.

If a school or district relies on a curriculum management product, teachers generally access it at the beginning and end of a term. What the curriculum produces, i.e. the student achievement data, is housed in a gradebook or a learning management system, siloed from the curriculum.

If schools rely on Google Drive or Microsoft Office, collaboration and on-the-go course adjustment gets easier, but there is no way to look at holistic student data and content side by side. To measure the effectiveness of a unit plan housed in a curriculum management product or a Google Doc, administrators must first gather the lesson plans associated with that unit and then separately pull the student achievement data from another source. This practice results in administrators spending far too much time gathering information instead of acting on it to better support classroom instruction.

The second challenge that administrators face is that curriculum is a living, breathing roadmap. What’s agreed upon at the beginning of the term never proves enough once the term gets underway, and so it must be fine-tuned on an ongoing basis. This is reality of curriculum design: the work is never done. 

This is why, despite the plethora of curriculum products and services that exist today, teachers still report spending twelve hours a week searching for or creating curricular materials. How much do these additional materials impact student achievement? How could teachers’ lives be improved if curriculum developers at the district office could access the additional materials teachers found and used on an ongoing basis to fine-tune curriculum? 

After months of researching, designing, engineering, and testing solutions for this problem, the Kiddom team is excited to introduce Responsive Curriculum Management on Kiddom Academy to help everyone support the work happening in classrooms more effectively.

 

Responsive Curriculum Management

 

Using Responsive Curriculum Management, curriculum developers can design and share standards-aligned curriculum directly to their teachers’ Kiddom Planner. The curriculum can be designed centrally in-house, co-designed with teachers, or adapted from a publisher.

When teachers access their respective Planners via Kiddom Classroom, they can view the curriculum map and collaborate with colleagues to build a collection of lessons and activities designed with their students in mind.

Student-facing artifacts from the curriculum, e.g. assessments, quizzes, intervention resources, can be used by teachers and accessed by students directly via Timeline in Kiddom Classroom. Additionally, there are many options to personalize assignments to meet student needs.

As teachers and students move through the planned curriculum, school and district leaders can monitor live classroom performance, at any moment. They can view which units, lessons, and activities are driving student outcomes, and follow overall student progress in all subjects. 

This visibility helps administrators make timely and data-informed decisions on how to allocate resources, from the contents of professional development sessions to the purchasing of curriculum or intervention materials. Administrators can finally measure the impact curriculum makes from design, delivery, and assessment, across classrooms and schools, in real-time. That’s a game-changer, folks. 

How to Bridge Curriculum, Instruction, & Assessment with Kiddom:

Getting Started

Using Academy, you can easily add a new course to share with teachers.

Build and Share Curriculum

Administrators can add units, standards, and other details, then click into any teacher's curriculum to view what resources have been added to Planner.

Implement, Teach, & Assess

Teachers can access the curriculum designed and distributed schoolwide, and use it by simply dragging resources from Planner and dropping them into a student's Timeline.

Measure the Impact

Administrators using Kiddom for Schools & Districts can track classroom data such as student engagement, student achievement (shown to right), as well as teacher and student dashboards. Read more here.

Review, Reflect, and Adjust Course

Responsive Curriculum Management on Kiddom Academy effectively bridges the gap between curriculum, instruction, and assessment. Calibrate on academic expectations and take action on classroom data to make sure teachers have everything they need for a successful school year.

While classes are in session, make informed decisions to support student learning in a timely manner. After the classes are done, you’ll finally have everything you need, all in one place to review, reflect, and adjust course for next time.

Curriculum is a Roadmap

Curriculum design is fundamentally emotional work, representing the journey educators plan for students to make meaningful connections with concepts. How curriculum is implemented in the classroom is a significant predictor of student achievement gains. Now that Responsive Curriculum Management is available, we’re excited to learn how administrators will use it to support the work happening in classrooms.

Ready to align curriculum, instruction, and assessment? Learn more by completing this inquiry form. We’d love to support you in this work.

Kiddom seamlessly connects the most critical aspects of teaching and learning on one platform.

For the first time, educators can share and manage digital curriculum, differentiate instruction, and assess student work in one place. Learners can take assessments online, see student performance data with the click of a button, and teachers have the insight and tools they need to create individual learning paths.

Ready to bring digital curriculum to your school or district?

Connect with us in a 15-minute meeting to learn more about available pre-packaged curriculum, and how the Kiddom education platform can support your learning community.

What People Are Saying

“Kiddom is great for assessing data and then assigning appropriate work based on individual student performance. I love that it's very easy to attach standards and rubric to every assignment.”

Jackie Curts, Middle School Teacher

“Using Kiddom has made me stop and ask ‘Am I just letting this student repeat what they already know or am I really challenging them?’”

Ann Leghorn, High School Literacy Specialist

“I can see where my class and any student is at any moment in their educational journey. This way I can take action to assist them to work towards mastery.”

Mr. Albrecht, High School Teacher

You might also be interested in these articles:

Early Warning Response Systems: Follow Us to Greenville, SC to Learn More

Early Warning Response Systems: Follow Us to Greenville, SC to Learn More

Abbas Manjee

Abbas Manjee

Chief Academic Officer, Kiddom

Abbas Manjee is Chief Academic Officer at Kiddom. Before Kiddom, Abbas taught high school math serving at-risk youth in New York City. 

At an education conference last fall, I had the pleasure of meeting Jeff McCoy, the Associate Superintendent for Academics at Greenville County Schools.

Greenville serves over 75,000 students in South Carolina and is famously known for “OnTrack Greenville,” a proprietary early warning response system that rapidly identifies students requiring academic intervention and helps them get back on track in a timely manner. Of course when I met Jeff, I had no idea this was Greenville’s bread and butter.

Over four years ago, we started Kiddom to enhance the classroom experience for teachers and learners. As we listened to teachers to refine and improve our product, we discovered a an alarming information gap between classrooms and their respective administration bodies.

To learn more, we conducted hundreds of interviews with school and district leaders. The result of this research led to Kiddom Academy, our K-12 school operating system to measure and act on classroom intelligence. Rest assured, we’re never going to stop listening to and learning from the folks we serve.

After the demo, he smiled and said, “What you have here is an early warning response system. We built it five years ago.”

In the spirit of lifelong learning, I wanted Jeff’s take on Kiddom Academy, and he was kind enough to sit through a short demo of our K-12 school OS. After the demo, he smiled and said, “What you have here is an early warning response system. We built it five years ago.”

As it turns out, in 2014 the United Way generously committed $9 million over three years to help Greenville build the software, train staff, and launch the program. I was thrilled to learn the research and work we were doing at Kiddom was putting us in the right direction.

The Components of an Early Warning Response System

To be clear, education technology is one of three components that go into running an early warning response system. It requires an intervention framework like RTI or MTSS, coupled with professionals to take the achievement insights and act on them.

This article explains what went into Greenville's program. It's a great example of humans using software to make sense of data in an actionable way to ensure all students succeed.

Early Warning Response Systems: What we Hope to Learn

Next week, Kiddom’s School Success Lead Melissa Giroux and I have the wonderful opportunity to visit Greenville, South Carolina and watch their early warning response system in action. The purpose of our visit is two-fold: (1) identify and understand the classroom intelligence metrics and indicators Greenville County professionals track and (2) identify the essential human processes and protocols necessary to take action on the data to support students.

Greenville County was able to build their early warning response system thanks in large part to a generous $9 million donation by the United Way. At Kiddom, we recognize most districts aren’t that lucky. I look forward to learning from the experts at Greenville County Schools and bringing this knowledge back to the Kiddom community so schools and districts can afford to ensure all students receive the supports they need, when they need it.

At a typical Kiddom school, hands are in the air, there’s a buzz in the room, and teachers and students are energized. Kiddom was designed to help improve teacher retention and increase student performance and graduation rates.

For the first time, the most important parts of teaching and learning are connected and simplified in Kiddom. Curriculum lives in one place and is easily measured and refined, instruction is personalized to meet the needs of each student, and data serves as a powerful system of support for every member of the learning community to keep students on track.

What People Are Saying

“Kiddom is great for assessing data and then assigning appropriate work based on individual student performance. I love that it's very easy to attach standards and rubric to every assignment.”

Jackie Curts, Middle School Teacher

“Using Kiddom has made me stop and ask, ‘Am I just letting this student repeat what they already know, or am I really challenging them?’”

Ann Leghorn, High School Literacy Specialist

“I can see where my class and any student is at any moment in their educational journey. This way, I can take action to assist them to work towards mastery.”

Mr. Albrecht, High School Teacher

How Marshall County Differentiates Instruction with Kiddom (Watch Mini-Documentary Here)

How Marshall County Differentiates Instruction with Kiddom (Watch Mini-Documentary Here)

Abbas Manjee

Abbas Manjee

Chief Academic Officer, Kiddom

Abbas Manjee is Chief Academic Officer at Kiddom. Before Kiddom, Abbas taught high school math serving at-risk youth in New York City. 

Three years ago, the Marshall County Department of Education in Benton, Kentucky abandoned their traditional curriculum and instructional model in favor of individualized, project-based models to offer students more choice and voice.

A change of this magnitude not only requires new furniture, new hardware, teacher training, and community buy-in, but also software to develop a new set of criteria to measure academic success.

Watch "How Marshall County Individualizes Instruction Mini-Documentary" here:

Marshall County decided to trust Kiddom’s K-12 operating system as a centralized source of valuable data to measure student achievement and enable individualization. Since implementation, other districts are following Marshall County’s example as they rethink their own approach to teaching and learning. Since our first pilot with Marshall County, the district has expanded their use of Kiddom. 

It is so rewarding to see how schools and districts tailor Kiddom to fit their pedagogical models as they move towards individualization. The Kiddom team values Marshall County’s vision to use technology to help them transform their instructional practices and we are grateful for the opportunity to have made a difference in this community.

Kiddom seamlessly connects the most critical aspects of teaching and learning on one platform.

For the first time, educators can share and manage digital curriculum, differentiate instruction, and assess student work in one place. Learners can take assessments online, see student performance data with the click of a button, and teachers have the insight and tools they need to create individual learning paths.

Ready to bring digital curriculum to your school or district?

Connect with us in a 15-minute meeting to learn more about available pre-packaged curriculum, and how the Kiddom education platform can support your learning community.

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