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New Features For IBM Learning Village Address Academic Standards and Professional Development

Authentic Assessment Tool for Standards-based Assessment of Student Performance; Jurying Best Practices Fosters Professional Development and Educational Excellence

Denver, CO - 26 Oct 2000: -- IBM today announced two enhancements to the IBM Learning Village set of Internet-based applications for educators: The Authentic Assessment Tool and Jurying/Best Practices. These features will make it easier for K-12 teachers and administrators to create rich learning environments by increasing collaboration and accountability while promoting uniform standards.

The Authentic Assessment Tool (AAT) allows teachers to check all types of student work, from compositions to mathematical word problems, against defined state and district standards. This provides a uniform means of assessing student performance in areas such as composition. Jurying/Best Practices (JBP) allows teachers to work collaboratively to develop and share successful lesson plans and teaching activities and aids development of teaching methods.

IBM Learning Village is a set of secure Lotus Domino Internet-based applications that give educators tools to build activities, lessons and teaching units that are standards-based and correlated to mandated curriculum. IBM Learning Village also facilitates communication and collaboration among students, parents, teachers and the community to promote a dynamic, teaching and learning environment.

AUTHENTIC ASSESSMENT TOOL

Because standardized tests do not accurately reflect what students have learned, teachers cannot use them to tailor instruction to help students better learn critical skills. In addition, the practice of "teaching to the test" often excludes teaching a more rigorous curriculum that includes complex ideas and thinking skills.

AAT uses Rubrics and Benchmarks, which are desired characteristics and examples of good student work, to enable teachers to assess all kinds of student work, thus providing a much more accurate means of measuring student learning than traditional multiple-choice tests. In addition, the tool helps teachers practice their assessment skills by providing samples of ideal student work for them to review.

The tool allows teachers to compare the work of their students, from compositions to word problems with an example of ideal student work. This offers teachers a simpler way to determine if the work meets the goals of a particular lesson plan and where the student's performance level is compared to other students in a particular grade.

Memphis City Schools, comprised of 175 schools and 118,000 students in the greater Memphis area, first implemented IBM Learning Village in 1997 and has deployed it in forty of its schools to date. Memphis is piloting the AAT.

According to Linda Ash, Instructional Technology Coordinator for Memphis City Schools, "Our teachers are finding that the IBM Learning Village Authentic Assessment Tool is a powerful new feature. It enables them to check a student's work against defined standards, score tests and assignments based on those standards, and create reports with the student's work that they can discuss with parents." Ash continued, "The teachers also value the ability to collaborate with their colleagues on lesson plans and ideas that will help them teach more effectively."

To better understand the level of students' critical thinking skills, the state of Vermont with over 400 schools and 110,000 K-12 students, pioneered the use of student mathematics and writing portfolios to collect and assess educational quality against the state's defined rubrics. Although instruction improved significantly, subjective scoring by different teachers produced disparate results and made it difficult to analyze scores and adjust lesson plans. To ameliorate these problems, IBM researchers and Vermont educators designed the Authentic Assessment Tool (AAT) as part of an IBM Reinventing Education program.

Doug Walker, Vermont's Deputy Commissioner for Education Quality, says, "Using the AAT, teachers become more consistent at scoring math tasks and writing assignments by comparing their results with those of experts. More importantly, teachers also can create profiles of student performance to help them understand the academic strengths and weaknesses of individual students or the entire class. This helps teachers change their instruction to meet students' needs."

JURYING AND BEST PRACTICES

The teaching profession is in the midst of a crisis. Projected shortages of teachers as a result of retirements and declining numbers for those choosing to become teachers means there is a growing need for new ways to train and encourage fledgling teachers. And how do you capture the wisdom of master teachers before they leave the profession to ensure the transfer of knowledge?

JBP allows teachers to post their strategies and instructional plans to a central repository where each undergoes a rigorous, online review process. If the submission meets the approval of a designated committee i.e. other teachers, curriculum advisors etc., the lesson or activity is then included in a database of best practices for use by other teachers. Jurying helps facilitate sharing of educational activities and plans that meet the district's high standards for teaching students.

JBP also offers a unique and powerful means of teacher professional development. The online review process enables teachers to understand what elements are necessary to create effective lesson plans which helps them refine their teaching methods towards providing a richer learning environment.

At Frederick County Public Schools in Frederick, Maryland, the Jurying Best Practices enhancement is proving essential in advancing professional development to an increasingly less experienced teaching staff. Forty percent of Frederick County teachers have been with the school for five years or less. Hiring 220-290 teachers annually, across the district, would normally put a tremendous strain on the organization in terms of training. The IBM Learning Village solution with the JBP feature allows teachers at any Internet-connected site to have access to pre-crafted lesson plans that are aligned not only to the districts Essential Curriculum Goals, but to Maryland state standards.

"Teaching has been called one of the most isolated professions," said Dan Cunningham, Associate Superintendent of the Frederick County Public Schools based in Frederick, Maryland. "The new Jurying capability of IBM Learning Village now empowers our teachers by giving them a way to share lessons they have created with their colleagues, get feedback and take advantage of mentoring opportunities offered by veteran teachers. Teachers are able to employ proven Best Practices that will benefit their students without reinventing the wheel each time."

In late June, IBM announced that it is now possible for districts to deploy IBM Learning Village as a hosted solution: accessing the customized solution from a secure, remote server maintained and supported by IBM. This gives schools around-the-clock access, enhanced reliability and faster, easier implementation.

About IBM

IBM is the world's largest information technology company with over 80 years of leadership in providing innovative solutions to businesses and educational institutions. IBM offers a wide range of services, solutions, and technologies that enable organizations to take full advantage of the new era of e-business and to realize the full value of information technology. For more information about IBM products and services for education go to: www.ibm.com.

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Contact(s) information

Sue Hoffman
IBM
224-5407
suehoff@us.ibm.com

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