Transforming education through personalized learning

Baltimore County Public Schools engages Engrade to create differentiated culture
By: | Issue: April, 2016 | Case Study
February 25, 2016

Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS) is in the middle of a multiyear transformation known as S.T.A.T. (Students and Teachers Accessing Tomorrow). Initiated in 2013, the goal of S.T.A.T. is ambitious: To cultivate a 21st century technology learning environment for its 111,000 students that prepares globally competitive graduates.

Previously, the district’s approach to education was similar to a supermarket. “You could go down any aisle. You could pick what you wanted, and then a school could use or not use that resource” says Ryan Imbriale, executive director of innovative learning for BCPS.

So when an elementary school student moved on to middle school—changing teachers and buildings—he and his family would likely have needed to adapt to use a new learning management system, student information system and method of approaching curriculum.

An LMS for every stage

The single solution for all stakeholders in the district’s 180 buildings was BCPS One, the district’s customized version of Engrade, a comprehensive learning management and assessment system for K12 school districts. Engrade is a one-stop shop that all stakeholders can access to track successes and challenges, both in the day-to-day happenings of a classroom and the larger picture of school- and district-level results.

With Engrade, teachers can personalize learning even more by pushing unique materials to selected groups of students, grading assignments, connecting with parents and monitoring students’ needs. Because curriculum is now in the platform and interactive, rather than on paper and in binders, administrators can make real-time adjustments that teachers can access and apply immediately.

“The assessment platform offers a tremendous opportunity for our teachers to make adjustments to what they’re doing in the classroom, student-by-student” says Imbriale. “It gives them that flexibility to customize the learning experience based on the data that’s coming out of Engrade’s formative assessment engine.”

Reaping real rewards

To objectively measure the impact of S.T.A.T., the district partners with the Johns Hopkins School of Education for a multiyear research and reporting program. The Center for Research and Reform in Education has released the first full-year report, covering the results of the 2014-15 academic year.

From October 2014 to April 2015, the report found that teachers decreased the time simply presenting information by 39 percent. They “frequently or extensively” acted as a learning coach or facilitator 50 percent of the time. Student discussion engagement increased over 79 percent, and participation in small group or pair activities increased over 62 percent. At one elementary school, behavior referrals decreased by 84 percent. Student participation in learning that incorporates authentic, real-world context grew 47 percent from the beginning of the year until the end.

“Our kids have the capability and capacity to experience relevance in the classroom. Engrade gives us the leverage to take that next step” says Imbriale. “Engrade provides us the kind of resources, tools and implementation we want from a robust learning management system.”

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