CHICAGO (CBS) — Like them or not, standardized tests are a fact of life for Chicago public school students, but one Chicago elementary school has found an innovative way to put all that data to good use, thanks to a new classroom tool.
Students at Disney Elementary–like many school children–use iPad apps to help them learn.
What’s different in these classrooms is that each child has apps chosen just for them, based on their standardized assessment results.
“This is so 21st century,” said principal Kathy Hagstrom, referring to a Chicago education company, called ESpark. “I can’t give 30 different lessons to my students in reading and math, but (ESpark has) come up with a way to do it electronically.”
The company analyzes each child’s standardized test results and finds aps that target their individual needs.
David Vinca, eSpark founder/CEO, told CBS 2’s Roseanne Tellez: “It’s very personal; so it’s relevant to them, and it’s at their learning level. This is a first of its kind.”
The school’s technology coordinator says eSpark succeeds where other companies have failed.
They find apps the kids like.
“It’s like the most delicious chocolate milkshake you’ve ever had, but it also happens to be really good for you,” said Brad Fisher, Disney technology coordinator.
Fifth grader Seijii Robinson says: “They are like normal games you play at home on your iPad, but you still get education from them.”
The program appears to be working, according to Hagstrom.
“We just looked at our fall map data and our spring map data, and we had a five-point growth in reading, and we had a three-point growth in math. Remarkable. We are very excited.” At Disney, they’re so convinced this is the future of learning that a pilot program is now school wide.
Each and every student has an iPad and apps to help them every step of the way.
The kids use eSpark six times a week, 20 minutes a day and are often grouped with other children at their same level.
Disney is the only Chicago Public school using eSpark.
About 500 schools are now using the program in 22 states.