Nestled at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in eastern Kentucky, Johnson County Schools (JCS) was known for its top-performing scores on the K-PREP assessments. The district was originally using unit testing in core subjects as a form of benchmark diagnostics, but once response to intervention (RTI) was mandated by the Kentucky Department of Education, JCS pinpointed the urgent need for adaptive diagnostic assessments in order to address RTI, better serve its students, and continue its top-performing legacy.
“Our teachers expressed that they would like to have a tool that actually shows progress from the beginning of the year to the end of the year and, even better, if we could find something that identifies how our students are doing midyear as well,” shared Shauna Patton, JCS’ instructional supervisor and assessment coordinator. “I started surveying my assessment friends in other districts and [received feedback about] their students’ success with Exact Path. I found that some of the higher-performing districts are the ones that have chosen Exact Path.”
In the search of a program that could serve as a diagnostic tool, JCS partnered with Edmentum in 2017 by implementing Exact Path, Edmentum’s K–12 diagnostic assessment and individualized learning program, to provide personalized instruction and support intervention and remediation.
When the state of Kentucky mandated the use of universal screener assessments as part of its response to intervention (RTI) program, Johnson County Schools (JCS) partnered with Edmentum to offer Exact Path’s diagnostic assessment. The 2019–20 school year marked the third year of the district’s Exact Path implementation, and elementary and middle schools continued seeing growth in math, reading, and language arts—adding to the rich legacy of being one of the top performing districts in eastern Kentucky.
How They Did it:
Originally, JCS began using Exact Path in grades K–8 for its diagnostic capabilities. After the first year of implementation, the district began incorporating the program’s diagnostic data into its progress reporting to use Exact Path as one of the district’s indicators for RTI.
One of JCS’s technology initiatives ensures that, starting in 3rd grade, there is a one-to-one student-to-Chromebook ratio so that Exact Path can be used during the day for classroom instruction and even at home during Non-Traditional Instructional (NTI) days. JCS’ geographic location also lends itself to particularly hazardous travel during snow days, so the district’s access to technology offers students the capability to continue learning remotely. During these snow days, or any other distance-learning days, teachers have students log in to Exact Path during NTI days to mitigate them from falling behind in their learning.
To provide a support network to teachers while using Exact Path (so that they can better support their own students using the program on and off campus), the district implemented a process of training at least one teacher per K–8 school to be an Exact Path expert. When questions arise involving Exact Path, JCS teachers know that they can bring their questions to their points of contact in their own campuses—including the school principal, the district technology team, and Mrs. Patton.
Every time I provide an assessment update to our board of education, there's always a sizable amount of growth with Exact Path. That's great news to get to share! Our board members and our community want to know about our students and schools’ academic success and progress.
In addition to leveraging Exact Path to meet state RTI expectations, teachers use the program as an efficient tool to use when communicating the strengths and struggles that students are exhibiting.
In her own district, Mrs. Patton has seen tangible growth based on the data gathered from Exact Path’s diagnostic tests given throughout the year.
“From pre- to mid- and from mid- to the end-of-year [diagnostic tests], the growth that we see and know from the Exact Path data reports speaks volumes,” reflected Mrs. Patton. “For instance, at the beginning of the school year, in a grade level of 50 students, only 4 of them were considered above average in math, then in midyear reporting, the diagnostic data shows it bounces from 4 to 12 students. Then, at the end of the year, it goes up to well over half the class. We're not seeing this in just one content area; we're seeing it in all three content areas and across all schools.”
Mrs. Patton has had success in sharing Exact Path diagnostic reports to show growth to teachers at the school level, to administrators at the district level, and to Johnson County Board of Education members.
Mrs. Patton recounted that Exact Path reports provide data that the board of education wants to see: “Board members are impressed with the charts I can generate from Exact Path. And, the reports are easy to understand. Exact Path provides data reporting in a variety of ways. Every time I provide an assessment update to our board of education, there's always a sizable amount of growth with Exact Path. That's great news to get to share! Our board members and our community want to know about our students’ and schools’ academic success and progress.”
During the summer of 2020, the district established a plan to utilize the learning pathways of Exact Path in conjunction with one of the school’s 21st Century programs.
I started surveying my assessment friends in other districts and [received feedback about] their students’ success with Exact Path. I found that some of the higher-performing districts are the ones that have chosen Exact Path.
Because of the success that Johnson County Schools has experienced with Exact Path, the district plans to continue using the program across all elementary and middle grades.
When asked what advice she would give to neighboring districts interested in trying Exact Path, Mrs. Patton shared that her peers have been asking for her opinion on the program. She likes to share with other districts how the program works and how content is broken down by skill, which helps with student learning and makes for easy-to-read reports. When asked what makes Exact Path stand out from other comparable programs, Mrs. Patton expressed that most programs are not as extensive.
“Exact Path is actually differentiated to place students on their pathway to success,” explained Mrs. Patton. “What makes Exact Path stand out is the gradual difficulty level increase of the individualized pathway each student receives as they master each academic goal of the program. It actually puts students in just that—their exact path.”