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7 Can’t Miss Blogs to Jumpstart the School Year

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August 11th, 2016

The freshly-polished hallways and classrooms across the country are filling up once again as another school year begins. Many students are showing up with a renewed enthusiasm for learning, with many teachers eager to help them become lifelong learners.

But for educators, every school year also comes with new challenges. With several mandates, new legislation and ways to assess student learning, where do you start?

Here are 7 “Can’t Miss Blogs” that will help educators get a jumpstart to the school year. The following posts are directly related to topics teachers and administrators should be talking about at the beginning of the school year, in this new era of Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA):

1. Why Should Educators Use Data?

It’s important to have access to data to make informed decisions. However, a critical step is to ensure everyone is on the same page by answering essential questions to help understand why data is collected or why a system is being implemented.

Excerpt: “It’s important to keep the ‘why’ in mind as you design professional learning around the rollout of data and educational technology tools to accomplish what you believe. As educators, figuring out the purpose behind using data and educational technology can help propel the initiative forward.”

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2. Understanding Why Social Emotional Learning is Important for Schools

For students to succeed, educators need to focus on more than just academic progress. True success requires dedication to educating the whole child.

Excerpt: “The number of research studies has increased on this topic and the evidence is overwhelming—social and emotional learning (SEL) is essential for student success. Studies have shown that many risky behaviors such as drug use, bullying, and absenteeism are often linked to poor social and emotional skills. What’s more, SEL has been linked to actual performance within the classroom and assessments.”

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3. Create an Early Warning System and Give Your Teachers X-Ray Vision!

Having the superhero ability of “x-ray vision” gives teachers indications of student needs before they become overwhelming.

Excerpt: “There is no doubt that your district tracks multiple pieces of data on your kids, and this data is most likely sitting in three, four, five, or maybe six different systems (or piles on your desk). Perhaps this is on your “to-do” list to share with your team at your next District/Building Admin leaders meeting.  But then what?  How does it get to teachers? At what frequency? How and when does it get to the very people who need it most? For real x-ray vision, it needs to be front and center with the tools teachers use.”

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4. 9 Steps to an Effective Common Assessment Framework

Creating a comprehensive student assessment framework for the district is a big, essential task. This post outlines nine key steps to help the assessment leader develop a framework.

Excerpt: “That student assessment is paramount is not lost on you as an educator. As our knowledge-based world places increasing demands on mastering high-level workforce skills, the qualifications for college and career readiness continue to magnify. Student achievement must be evaluated early and often to ensure cultivation of real-world skill sets like critical thinking and complex problem-solving.”

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5. Improving Student Learning: The Present and Future of Formative Assessment

It’s not enough to use summative assessments to monitor student growth. Research indicates that formative assessments are also playing a vital role in the process.

Excerpt: “Although summative assessment still serves a valuable role within education systems, the pendulum has swung towards inclusion of a formative approach as well—and for good reason. Numerous empirical studies—involving thousands of students—have established a strong correlation between formative assessment and heightened academic achievement. Moreover, the value of formative assessment skyrockets when educators succeed at securing student buy-in and involvement in their own formative learning.”

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6. How Student-Led Conferences Are Impacting Our Schools

If you’re thinking ahead to your first parent-teacher conferences this fall, here’s an idea to consider: making the switch to student-led conferences!

Excerpt: “Student-led conferences have classrooms seeing positive results as students take control of their learning. Unlike parent-teacher conferences, where teachers are informing families on student performance, student-led conferences are handing that responsibility over to the student. Both educator and parent alike are touting the benefits of this new approach: greater accountability, and a more complete view of student achievement.”

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7. A Teacher’s Guide to Maximizing Student Involvement in the Data-Informed Classroom

The more students are involved in strategizing their academic performance—where they are now, where they want to be, and how to get there—the greater chance they have to be successful learners.

Excerpt: “When teachers succeed at empowering their students to take ownership of their education through increased involvement, those students gain the ever-valuable ability to plot their own roadmap for short- and long-term academic achievement, enhancing their personal growth along the way. But how can teachers encourage educational ownership through maximized student involvement? It starts with instilling a data-informed approach to teaching and learning.”

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We hope you enjoy the posts and have a fantastic start to your school year. As the year progresses, stay tuned and look for more educational resources from our blog.


Illuminate Education is a provider of educational technology and services offering innovative data, assessment and student information solutions. Serving K-12 schools, our cloud-based software and services currently assist more than 1,600 school districts in promoting student achievement and success.

Ready to discover your one-stop shop for your district’s educational needs? Let’s talk.

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