Teachers in the Susquehanna Township School District are finding success with their new curriculum mapping program using Chalk. With it, they can easily locate and align state standards with lesson plans, and if they have any questions, they can get live technical assistance through “Mr. Chalk” an online chat feature operated by company employees.
Mr. Chalk used to be available only Monday to Friday, but not on weekends when many teachers were finishing lesson plans for submission to principals Sunday evenings. So Superintendent Dr. Tamara Willis made a call.
“After our call, they changed Mr. Chalk’s hours!” says Tamara Willis, Ph.D., who leads the district near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. “You don’t find that with companies. We’ve worked with everyone at Chalk, and it’s clear they all have a vested interest in seeing the solution be a success and in providing a top-notch customer experience.”
That exceptional customer service was just one factor that led the district to choose Chalk after piloting three curriculum management products in spring 2016. “Chalk has the capability to specifically address the complex standards system within Pennsylvania—directly linking standards to everyday lesson plans” says Willis. “What sets Chalk apart are the administrative tools that allow principals and the district office to analyze the rate at which teachers are teaching to specific standards.” Willis adds “It provides a more comprehensive picture of ongoing instruction and a platform for conversation with teachers about instructional practices. That’s the foundation for improving student achievement.”
Curriculum mapping results, ease of use
The district has seen improvement in reading since implementing Chalk in 2016-17. First-graders performed 30.5 percent better on the fall 2017-18 GRADE (Group Reading Assessment and Diagnostic Evaluation) benchmark assessment than on the fall 2016-17 assessment, which they took as kindergarteners.
Second-graders performed 2.4 percent better on the 2017-18 assessment than on their previous assessment, and third-graders performed 7.1 percent better over the same period.
Teachers like the new system because they can modify templates according to grade or subject, roll over the curriculum from year to year and share documents across the district’s four buildings, says Michael Adamek, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction. “The ease of use lets teachers put their efforts into teaching, instead of pulling lesson plans out of binders or hunting around for curriculum materials” says Adamek.
“It was a challenge for us to make a connection between curriculum, assessment and instruction and to know that students were receiving appropriate instruction based on what the state required” Willis says. “Chalk allows every teacher to very quickly access curriculum as they are building their lesson plans. Chalk requires that they make that connection every day.”
The system enables district administrators and leaders to see how often building supervisors review lesson plans and provide feedback. This is valuable, concrete evidence that they can give to teachers.
Chalk representatives continue to provide training and answer questions in person or through conference calls, video meetings, online tutorials and online chat. “They don’t just sell you the product and go away” Willis says. “They have been very transparent and very approachable. From the beginning, they committed to providing a very high level of customer service.”