Digital Content vs. Student Outcomes

Schools and school districts have invested significantly in the use of digital resources and content over the years. The question that arises from this investment is whether the end justifies the means. In short, is it making an impact on student achievement?

Chilton County Schools is endeavoring to answer that question by combining extensive data analytics with resource usage tracking. Located in Clanton, Alabama, midway between Birmingham and Montgomery, Chilton County was awarded a five-year grant from a local philanthropist to fund this endeavor. This grant provided funding for the implementation of the Global Grid for Learning (GG4L) managed access solution known as Passport and the GG4L Compass data analytics solution.

Kim Arrington, Chilton County’s Chief Technology Officer, said, “Taking on an endeavor such as this requires a significant commitment by the district to be successful.” The key to Chilton County’s efforts to date has been a well-trained and dedicated team of school-based technology specialists. These classroom teachers dedicate a portion of their day to working with other teachers in each school to ensure that staff and students alike are able to maximize the use of technology resources.

The project started with Compass, as a tool to collect data from a variety of sources and both organize it and disaggregate it so that staff can zero in on student achievement across the curriculum and at the standard or objective level within given content areas. “Compass gives our staff a single place to drill into academic achievement, student attendance, and behavior, whether you’re a classroom teacher or a school or district administrator,” added Arrington.

Next came the Passport managed access solution. “Using many different resources in the classroom can be challenging” says Arrington. Passport gives staff and students a place from which to launch all their applications, without needing to re-enter user login information each time a resource is accessed. But Passport does more than provide easy access to digital resources. It is a means to an end, where data about resource usage is captured. “Passport gives us the who, what, when, and where of digital resource and content usage.” said Arrington. We can now combine this data with the achievement data we’re seeing in Compass to begin to measure the efficacy of these resources.

“We’re still fairly early into this initiative, but as time goes by and we gather more data, we’ll be able to maximize our investment in educational technology,” concluded Arrington.