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Illuminator Spotlight: John LaPlante

February 5th, 2016

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Meet John LaPlante. He is the Executive Director of ACCESS, one of sixteen Information Technology Centers (ITCs) in the state of Ohio. Less than a year into implementing Illuminate, John has made significant strides in his work with districts.

Tell us about ACCESS and your current role as Executive Director

We provide core services in the area of Student Services, Financial Services, Library Services, State Data Reporting, and Internet Services to 28 public school districts across two counties in Northeast Ohio.  We own and manage a 250+ mile private fiber optic network which connects roughly 100 school buildings in this region.  My primary responsibility is to identify and implement technology tools in these core service areas for our districts.

How does Illuminate Data and Assessment (DnA) help your teachers and students?
We are only 6 months into our implementation, and we have rolled out DnA to seven of our 28 districts, with more planned for next school year.  Although we have only been “live” for a short time, we have already seen tremendous use of DnA, mostly in the Assessment area.  We are a complete Google Apps environment, so the Single Sign On feature of DnA with Google has been a huge success.  To date our teachers have created 9,700 student assessments with 166,400 student responses logged…and that number keeps clicking up every day!  We have just started using the Summary Assessments (thanks Sue Morefield) and RTI (thanks Katie Sellstrom) modules, but we are already seeing strong usage among our larger districts with respect to data aggregation.

What is your favorite Illuminate feature?
It’s hard to pick!  But if I had to pick one, it would be the OnTrack feature.  This feature has so many possibilities, from drop-out risk avoidance (more on that below) to athletic eligibility to Ohio’s Third Grade Reading Guarantee tracking.  There is no limit to what can be configured and shared with teachers.  I think most of our teachers would say that the Hybrid Assessment feature is their favorite…they love the ability to upload their PDF exam and create bubble sheets, or have the students take the exam online using their Google Single Sign On credentials.  The 1:1 Chromebook schools also love the secure Kiosk app we built for testing.  The administrators in the district love the instant availability of exam results, and the Response Frequency report is a big hit with everyone.

I have to also say that the Illuminators we work with on a near daily basis make all the difference to us.  Kathleen Ciolli and Chris Balow (Sr., but Jr. is rockin’ it also) have been so wonderful to work with as we continue our implementation.  Our trainers (Sue and Katie) have also been outstanding…they bring so much to the training sessions…not just program knowledge…but true educational knowledge to which our teachers can really relate.

Anything else you would like to tell us about your work with districts in Ohio?
One of the most exciting things happening with our districts is our federal grant surrounding Early Warning Systems.  We have five of our school districts working in conjunction with the Mahoning County Juvenile Justice Center on a project to help decrease the student dropout rate from high school.  After struggling a bit looking for ways to easily load, aggregate, and report trends in our Student Information System data, we have decided to use DnA to create an OnTrack Early Warning System for our schools.  Through a collaborative effort including Illuminate, ACCESS, the Justice Center, and our schools, we are building a single OnTrack system that will be shared across all of our districts.  Because we structured our implementation as a consortium model, we can “roll up” the OnTrack data to individual buildings, districts, and at the County level.  We will be presenting this very unique solution at the Ohio EdTech Conference (OETC) in February.

Give us one fun fact about you
As some know, I grew up in San Diego, the location of the upcoming Illuminate User’s Conference.  San Diego Magazine shared a list of 50 things that all San Diegans must do, and I share it with all of you in case you were looking for some things do during the conference (outside of conference hours, of course): The Ultimate San Diego Bucket List

I’m proud to say that I have ticked 46 of these items off my bucket list, but will be looking to knock off at least one other item (number 23) during my visit.  So looking forward to #IEUC16!!


Check out John’s blog article about using Illuminate’s OnTrack feature: “Create an Early Warning System and Give Your Teachers X-Ray Vision”

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