Four Commonly Asked Questions About Implementing Exact Path
In my experiences of working with educators, there are certainly a handful of questions that come up again and again. And, no wonder—they may even be the ones you already have in your head as you’re reading this now! Today, let’s look at four commonly asked questions that I receive day to day as a Services Program Manager at Edmentum regarding Exact Path, our adaptive assessment and individualized learning program.
- How much time should students spend using Exact Path?
Without a doubt, this question is part of every conversation I have. I often start by sharing some of the research we have available to support this program, which shows that with the use of 20 minutes per week, per subject students have demonstrated increased achievement. But, beyond that, there’s still so much more to unpack when answering this question so that I can provide the most refined recommendation possible for a specific implementation.
It all starts with understanding that, for teachers, time is often perceived as a constraint. If you ask any teacher about time, he or she will tell you, “I wish I had more time. I want more time with students. I want more time to build relationships. I want more time to expose my students to content that they’re not already proficient in.” So, when I think about time, I also try to think about effort and how that time is being spent to be as impactful as possible. If I can find out a bit more about what educators are currently doing and what works for a given student population, then I can help make a recommendation on suggested program time that is more meaningful. That could be half an hour every day during intervention, or maybe it’s 20 minutes every other day within an existing station-rotation model. Time spent on Exact Path can really look different for each school or district, depending on the implementation.
- How do I keep my students engaged in Exact Path?
This question really gets into how time is being spent in the program. If students aren’t engaged and motivated to keep going, any time recommendation will be meaningless. As I dig into this question, I often share the ways that success tracking and goal setting are built into the program using Mastery Trophies and teacher-defined Challenges. But then, I also get to share the creativity that educators across the country inherently have. By that, I mean that I’ve seen schools create giant football fields out of butcher paper to track Trophies, and similarly, I’ve seen teachers print out and display every certificate a student earns in the program. Just recently, we also heard from educators at a middle school in West Virginia where teachers developed an entire mythical world of creatures that students can collect as they demonstrate skill mastery. It’s equally fun to explore what the program has available out of the box, and then see the levels that teachers take it to so that it really resonates with their students.
- How do I use Exact Path for students who are either far below or far above grade level?
When this question comes up, that’s when I get to talk a lot about how this tool was built to provide curriculum that reaches from kindergarten skills up through high school. This is important when you’re looking for innovative ways to support your lowest students, but it’s also key to not forgetting about those accelerated learners. These ‘high flyers’ also need curriculum to help push them further, and often, it’s much harder to assemble resources to support this population.
One of our reporting views, known as the Knowledge Map, lays out a student’s individualized learning path like a roadmap. This is where educators can get understanding into not only where students’ current skills and abilities lie but also what’s possible. Through these conversations, you see educators begin to realize that they can use this information to effect change in their classroom, starting that day.
- How do I communicate success and progress to my students’ parents?
It’s one thing to give teachers a report to show student progress. It’s quite another to give teachers a report that they can sit down with and build a conversation around to help parents better understand where their child needs to be and what the remainder of that scope and sequence and instructional flow looks like. That’s what our Student Summary Reports aim to do.
We have a school in East Troy, Wisconsin, that was really focused on helping educators communicate to students’ families what challenges students are having, where they’re going, what’s working well, and what’s may not be working well. We talked about how this report could be leveraged during some of the most difficult conversations that teachers have each year—parent-teacher conferences. The school found a lot of success by facilitating conversations with this program, and it was able to start building relationships focused on what parents and stakeholders could do to help their student be successful.
Learning from our educator partners by listening and answering questions like these is what makes it all worth it. So, whether it’s trying to make informed decisions about how to move our product forward based on educator feedback or gathering best practices and disseminating them to everyone I work with at Edmentum, these questions matter, and the experiences of our educators continue to be invaluable.
Looking for more information about Exact Path? Check out my earlier post about how educators are implementing Exact Path in U.S. schools and districts today.