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Editor's Note: This article was published in 2008 and was based on a study released earlier that year. The conclusions reflect the opinion of the author at that time.
To help improve standardized test scores mandated by No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), many schools across the nation direct their students to log-on to Study Island to practice state standards and indicators. In the future, 50 states will have their standards aligned with Study Island’s programs; currently, however, only 36 states participate.
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Connected to Research
NCLB requires that all educational programs need to be based on research. Study Island has provided documentation that they are using research based procedures. A new independent study, Study Island Scientific Research Base by Magnolia Consulting in July 2008, shows that it “provides documentation that connects the key features of the Study Island program to scientific and academic research literature."
In addition, the research showed that when “teachers used web-based instruction to supplement classroom instruction it was 13%-36% more effective than classroom instruction alone at teaching declarative knowledge, suggesting a combination of the two formats may lead to better achievement than classroom instruction alone."
The content on Study Island is written from state standards. The program gives diagnostic, formative and summative results to teachers and administrators. In addition, it allows for an assessment feedback loop, reinforces learning through practice, motivates students, supports mastery, and uses a web-based platform. Anther great feature is that it encourages parental involvement.
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How It Works
Study Island allows students to practice and to build skills over time toward mastery. Students can practice math, reading, writing, science or social studies. Once students are connected to the online program, they choose how many questions they want to answer. If they are not familiar with an indicator or standard, basic lessons are available. When they begin their session, they receive immediate feedback for their answers. Students and teachers can see the progress in any subject and/or indicator on the computer screen.
This supports the research from the report that says that the best feedback encourages students to keep working until they succeed and tells students what they know about the target knowledge instead of telling how they did in comparison to others.
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Research also recommends that teacher assess students in ongoing classroom assessments called formative assessment. Not only do students receive immediate feedback when working, teachers can keep track of student performance at any time as well. How teachers use this assessment data to change teaching practices and for remediation is the key to helping students.
In addition, the reports offer diagnostic data to show student weaknesses and summative data that shows their mastery of indicators or objectives.
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Helps Improve AYP
Magnolia Consulting reports that the best way to improve AYP status is for teachers to use the results of assessment data to tweak teaching practices. Study Island allows teachers to monitor student growth and student deficiencies. The program is easy for students to see their progress as well so that they can move towards mastery of a subject indicator or standard.
The research also suggests that students who receive frequent assessment have higher achievement scores, especially when the assessment is cumulative and students can learn from the assessments.
As teachers and administrators continue to work towards improving scores on state standardized achievement tests, the new buzzwords to make improvements are research and data.Study Island is another way to attain test data and it is reserached based.Teachers need to not be afraid of the information and use it to drive their curriculum and remediation.