Teacher of the Month: Shana Nissenbaum

We are very excited to present our November Teacher of the Month, Shana Nissenbaum! Shana is an amazing elementary teacher who works in Ohio and lives in Indiana. Read on to learn more about Shana and how she uses Edcite.

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Improving the Quality of the Feed: Electronic Common Assessments

Educational assessment articles and books across this country in the last five years have referenced hogs, chickens, and cows. The question has been if you want a healthier animal, do you weigh it more often or do you improve the quality of the feed?  It has been continually suggested for the last decade that improving our students’ achievement requires breaking the pattern of being data-rich but information-poor.

However, assessments were just being given and were taking up valuable instructional time when we weren’t doing anything with the data. (2)This has been the case in my district over the last few years.  We were using an outside vendor to track student progress and doing a great job at weighing students.  However, assessments were just being given and were taking up valuable instructional time when we weren’t doing anything with the data. Add a number of parents who refused to have their students take these assessments and we had an assessment system that wasn’t working for anyone!

As Director of Educational Services, it was my number one priority this last year to build capacity in my staff to convert data to information that gives teachers tools needed to probe for causes where students are underperforming or exceeding expectations, analyze conditions that contribute to various trends of student achievement, and develop intervention and enrichment strategies to support these analyses.

Interventionand Enrichment

In relationship to the educational shifts required in the academic content standards for our state, I spent considerable time developing assessments created by my teachers that function from an evidence-centered design (see the embedded image for more information on this type of design).  Evidence-centered design begins with inferences that we want to make about student learning connected to standards and follows with a collection of evidence (i.e., an assessment) that shows how we know that students are making progress toward doing what we claim they can do.

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I knew that if I was to get buy-in from staff on utilizing the data to drive instruction, we had to create our own assessments. From my perspective, this meant that we either had to learn how to write good questions quickly or find them from vetted resources.  Utilizing resources from Achieve the Core and Illustrative Mathematics and doing some work with assessment blueprinting, we created assessments on Edcite that my principals and I felt were worthy of kids’ time and that would also provide us with valuable information with which to adjust instruction.

However, assessments were just being given and were taking up valuable instructional time when we weren’t doing anything with the data. (4).jpg

Edcite’s new platform Edcite Schools fit our needs as it was cost-effective, allowed us to generate reports in a number of ways (standards-based, classroom-based, student-based, etc.), and allowed our teachers to provide feedback to students via the electronic platform. The system allowed us to search through question banks that we vetted using an assessment vetting tool on Achieve the Core. It also had the extra advantage of being able to be customized to give students experience in a viewer very similar to our state’s assessment system, AIR.

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After we administered our first assessment, we met in grade level teams to analyze results. Utilizing the reports in Edcite Schools and following a data-protocol, where we set norms, focused on what students can do, what students were struggling with, and trends amongst assessments, we were able to have the professional conversation about how we were going to improve our instruction. The quality of the feed improved and we saw growth amongst students from assessment-to-assessment.

However, assessments were just being given and were taking up valuable instructional time when we weren’t doing anything with the data. (6).jpg

Fast-forward to June, which in my state is every curriculum director’s nightmare: the release of state achievement data. I learned that the work that we did with Edcite Schools actually was predicative.  When I compared our internal Edcite Schools data to our state achievement data, with a 99% predicative accuracy, I was able to determine which students were in danger of not meeting grade-level benchmarks.  We are now data rich.

As we plan for the following year, it is crucial that we start to utilize the information that we are collecting consistently to further plan interventions to help our students who are struggling. I know, as do my teams, that there are going to be mistakes. Will we have it 100% right next year? No. The key is to plan the administration of the assessment knowing that we have to do better for our students with whatever data comes back. They deserve it so that we can consistently focus on the feed rather than than weighing.

Bryan Drost_Edcite Blog

Bryan R. Drost is the Director of Curriculum and Instruction for the ESC of Summit County, Ohio. He holds a Master’s of Education in Educational Foundations with an emphasis in Standards-Based instruction as well as a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction and Assessment both from Kent State. Bryan holds a variety of roles at the state and national levels: chairperson for the Ohio Foreign Language Association Technology Integration Committee, an ODE Network Regional Leader, a member of ODE’s Fairness and Test Use Committee, a steering committee member of the Northeast Ohio TALK Network, a RESA master coder, a national supervisor for edTPA, a consultant for the National Board, part of NCME’s Standards and Test Use Committee, one of Ohio’s Core Advocates, and a Batelle for Kids Roster Verification trainer. He has presented throughout the state and country on various topics related to instructional shifts, assessment, and technology integration. 


January Teacher of the Month: Shelley Cline


It’s that time of the month again! This month, we chose to recognize Shelley Cline, a middle school teacher from Newcomerstown, Ohio. Though she only signed up in October of 2014, Shelley has quickly become an active, dedicated Edcite user. We hope you learn some great tips from Shelley!

Tell us about yourself!

My name is Shelley Cline, and this is my twelfth year as an employee of the Newcomerstown Exempted Village School District in Newcomerstown, Ohio. This is my fifth year teaching sixth grade English Language Arts. My husband’s name is Dennis, and we have a fifteen year old dog named Connie. We do not have any children unless you count my 73 sixth graders!

Why did you become a teacher?Shelley Cline (1)

After my high school graduation, I earned my undergraduate degree in Business Administration from Otterbein College. I worked in the banking industry for several years before moving back to my hometown to open a gymnastics business. It was through gymnastics that I learned how much I enjoyed working with children. A parent of two of my team members was a school principal, and she suggested that I become a substitute teacher for the local school district. I fell in love with teaching, so I went back to college to obtain my teaching license. I enjoy watching my students grow and mature both as students and as individuals throughout the course of the school year.

Why did you start using Edcite?

This year is the first year that students in Ohio will be taking the PARCC tests. Because of that, I spent a lot of time searching for the best resources to use with my students. In the fall, our district took part in a countywide in-service, and it was there that I learned about Edcite. Thank heavens!

How have you used Edcite in your classroom?

I have been using Edcite ever since to create my own tests and quizzes that are aligned to the Common Core Standards. I want my students to have as much experience with online testing as possible. They need to be proficient with keyboarding and understand how to manipulate the data for the new types of questions they will encounter (i.e., technology-enhanced constructed response questions, two-part questions, and multiple choice questions that require them to choose more than one answer). Practice makes perfect, and thanks to Edcite, I can make this type of practice possible for my students.

Any parting words of wisdom?

I urge other teachers to give this site a try because I truly feel that it will make a difference for their students.