Fulfilling a Tradition of Excellence with i-Ready Assessment
Spartanburg School District 7, located in upstate South Carolina, upholds its commitment to a deep-rooted tradition of excellence in education. District leaders work together to identify and replace instructional or assessment programs that don’t contribute to that tradition. Find out how they used the actionable data in
i-Ready Assessment to transform teaching and learning after other programs failed.
The Problem: Spartanburg’s Assessment Program
During the 2018–2019 school year, Spartanburg’s principals, teachers, and Chief Academic Officer Dr. Terry Pruitt all shared the same concern. Their current assessment program was severely lacking. At the end of each school year, they could see where students started and where they ended up, but they didn’t have the real-time data necessary to pinpoint and address learning gaps along the way.
“What we really needed was data we could use throughout the year as a blueprint, showing us what we’re doing from one assessment to the next and letting teachers know, ‘This is how I need to target my instruction,’” said Pruitt.
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The Pilot and Districtwide Implementation
Pruitt had previously evaluated i-Ready Assessment along with other assessment solutions. In 2019–2020, he took a deeper dive into how several of the district’s student groups were already using it. He recognized its potential to solve the district’s challenges and decided to pilot i-Ready at one of the district’s most challenged, high-poverty elementary schools, plus three middle schools. The success of the pilot year fueled a 2020–2021 districtwide implementation.
At the same time and without warning, teachers had to adapt quickly to unfamiliar remote-learning environments. They relied on the support of several professional development (PD) efforts provided by Curriculum Associates and the district’s very own i-Ready Champions. According to Dr. Edwina Perrin, district math coach/coordinator, Curriculum Associates’ PD training received rave reviews. “They allowed teachers to ask targeted questions in a supportive environment,” she said. “I’m going to make sure Dr. Pruitt keeps that in the budget going forward.”
The Power of Strategic Abandonment
i-Ready was instrumental in supporting Spartanburg’s strategic abandonment initiative. Instead of adding more programs, they used strategic abandonment to eliminate standalone programs that included functions covered by i-Ready. “If a teacher is asked to use too many different tools, it’s difficult to be great with all of them,” shared Pruitt. “But if the teacher only works with i-Ready, and i-Ready is a tool that meets each of our needs, the teachers can become really good at it.”
This process also gave them an opportunity to clearly explain the reasons for choosing this tool (along with other strategic resources) to support the students. Centering all teachers around the “why” of the carefully chosen tools and approach empowered them as stakeholders in the district’s larger goals.
Proof That Student-Centered Instruction Wins
Getting students engaged with i-Ready as partners in their own learning was just as crucial as getting educators accustomed to using it. The district intentionally shared and reviewed i-Ready Diagnostic data with each student to create transparency around their strengths and struggles. When students felt a sense of ownership in their learning, they gained a deeper understanding of where they needed to improve plus increased confidence and motivation to do so. “All of our programs and initiatives are structured to intersect with the students at the heart of everything,” explained Pruitt. “If we make sure to keep that in place, we know we’ll get the results we desire.”
Spartanburg leadership recognized a problem and made all the right moves to fix it, as supported by the successful results at the end of the 2020–2021 school year.
“We count on i-Ready to help us prepare our students to do well on the state tests,” explained Dr. Glen Carson, director of assessment and accountability. “We want the transfer of learning to go outside of i-Ready for the student, and one of the ways to demonstrate that is through success on the SC Ready tests.”
A student-centered approach—coupled with finding the right tools to fulfill its rich tradition of excellence—has equipped Spartanburg to put every student on a pathway to success.
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