Assessment + instruction + practice = Closing gaps with districtwide K–8 data integration

For many New England schools, April assessments are about as welcome as a late-season nor’easter. But in Haverhill, Massachusetts, this year’s standardized tests present a unique opportunity for schools to showcase hard-earned academic gains. Dr. Erin Hagerty is the testing coordinator at the Dr. A. B. Consentino School, one of 18 Haverhill schools taking part in a new project to help educators identify and remediate knowledge gaps. The project, based on the Renaissance Flow 360® assessment-driven instruction and practice solution, kicked off in September. Hagerty says schools are already reporting notable results. “We’ve seen breakthroughs at every level. Teachers are addressing individual-student deficiencies months earlier than they could using previous assessment solutions. We’ve also been able to more rapidly detect and correct districtwide curriculum gaps that we expect will help more schools reach or exceed proficiency on state tests.”

Renaissance Flow 360 integrates assessment, planning, instruction, practice, and professional development to help educators move every student in the district forward. Hagerty says the solution makes personalized instruction a reality. “Like every district, we want to improve annual test scores. But we also have ambitious goals to follow our students from year to year, ensuring that each one makes continual progress toward graduation. To be true to our commitment to improving graduation rates and delivering the highest-quality academics, we must empower educators with good data. The data we derive from Renaissance Flow 360 helps us be better informed on every plane. Concepts like data-driven instruction, differentiation, and personalized learning are no longer just buzzwords—Renaissance is helping us actually deliver such education innovation.”

"Concepts like data-driven instruction, differentiation, and personalized learning are no longer just buzzwords—Renaissance is helping us actually deliver such education innovation.”

Dr. Erin Hagerty
Testing Coordinator – Dr. A. B. Consentino School

The challenge: Improve assessments and use results to tailor instruction

The city of Haverhill is located on the Merrimack River, some 35 miles north of Boston. Founded in 1640, the city today is one of 26 Massachusetts Gateway Cities that anchor regional economies. Haverhill schools follow the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks and require students in grades 3 through 8 to take the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) 2.0 exam. Hagerty says that when she joined the Haverhill Public School District, the assessment program that Consentino and other schools used to measure progress against standards and to prepare for the MCAS exams was regimented, time-consuming, and produced hard-to-interpret results.

A self-described advocate for data-driven curriculum, Hagerty holds two doctorates, one in educational leadership and a second in data analysis and curriculum development. Her goal at Haverhill was to help the district’s schools implement a solution to strengthen curriculums and give teachers greater flexibility in administering assessments with immediate and useful results. The evaluation process included a pilot of Renaissance Flow 360 at Consentino. “The response from teachers was overwhelmingly positive,” Hagerty states. “The assessments were easy to run and gave us much greater autonomy to monitor student progress. Compared to other solutions we’ve used, Renaissance provided results that were much easier for teachers to review and use for instructional planning. And, because Renaissance measures and reports on skills aligned with our state standards, we can better anticipate MCAS achievement.”

After the successful pilot, the district implemented Renaissance Flow 360 across all Haverhill elementary and middle schools. Components of Renaissance Flow 360 include Renaissance Star 360®, Renaissance Accelerated Reader 360®, Renaissance Accelerated Math®, and Renaissance Planner®, connecting assessment data with recommended skills instruction and personalized practice. The solution also includes Renaissance Smart Start product training and access to Renaissance-U® courses that teachers can apply as continuing education credits.

The results: Valuable data, assessment-driven instruction, and achievement

Hagerty managed the K–8 rollout of the solution and today serves as the district’s liaison for Renaissance. She says that Renaissance Flow 360 immediately gave teachers greater autonomy to track student achievement. “Across the district, we conducted a minimum of three assessments, with some 200 educators evaluating more than 6,500 students in each of our fall, winter, and spring trimesters. But one of the major benefits of the user-friendly technology is that teachers are no longer restricted to specific testing windows. Plus, assessments take just 25 minutes. In the past, tests weren’t timed, so planning for them in the classroom was difficult. Today, teachers can schedule an assessment for the first half of a class and share results before the end of the period. That immediacy of reliable data has also helped with both teacher and student buy-in to the solution.”

"But one of the major benefits of the user-friendly technology is that teachers are no longer restricted to specific testing windows."

Dr. Erin Hagerty
Testing Coordinator – Dr. A. B. Consentino School

Actionable insights and guided instruction

Hagerty says the key to the success of such a large-scale project was the development of a strategic timeline that gave teachers the confidence to take control of their own assessments and data collection. Early in the school year, Hagerty conducted professional development sessions to ensure all teachers could conduct assessments and generate high-value reports such as the instructional planning reports that indicate skills students are ready to learn next, based on their placement in the learning progression.

“Next, we made certain that teachers could use the Renaissance data to identify students in need of additional support or intervention,” continues Hagerty. “By March, our expectation was that teachers could flow assessment data into the Renaissance reading and math solutions to both personalize instruction and to place students in peer groups, including enrichment groups for high achievers. We met all of our milestones in part because the Renaissance technology is so user friendly, and also because we were able to realize immediate value from the data. In many cases, teachers were able to make small adjustments with dramatic impact. And at the district level, we gained unprecedented visibility to identify curriculum issues and take corrective action.”

"And at the district level, we gained unprecedented visibility to identify curriculum issues and take corrective action.”

Dr. Erin Hagerty
Testing Coordinator – Dr. A. B. Consentino School

Engaged students and growth

“We’ve heard from teachers that the Renaissance reading and math solutions also help engage students,” adds Hagerty. “Students particularly enjoy the individualized learning activities and instant feedback, and the solutions help them navigate computer-based testing. They’re learning how to underline, highlight, and use other keyboard skills required for the MCAS standardized tests.”

Haverhill teachers also make use of Renaissance Star Spanish®. Hagerty comments, “We have a large English Language Learner (ELL) population, so the district recommends that all beginner ELLs take assessments in both Spanish and English. Side-by-side comparisons of scores really help teachers differentiate between knowledge and language issues and reassures them that they’re appropriately addressing learning needs.”

Now nearing the end of the first full year of the Renaissance Flow 360 implementation, Hagerty looks forward to strong performance gains and test results. “Renaissance Flow 360 really integrates the whole package—accurate assessments, planning tools, guided instruction, personalized practice tools, and more—that our educators need to help Haverhill students continue to grow and succeed.”

For many New England schools, April assessments are about as welcome as a late-season nor’easter. But in Haverhill, Massachusetts, this year’s standardized tests present a unique opportunity for schools to showcase hard-earned academic gains. Dr. Erin Hagerty is the testing coordinator at the Dr. A. B. Consentino School, one of 18 Haverhill schools taking part in a new project to help educators identify and remediate knowledge gaps. The project, based on the Renaissance Flow 360® assessment-driven instruction and practice solution, kicked off in September. Hagerty says schools are already reporting notable results. “We’ve seen breakthroughs at every level. Teachers are addressing individual-student deficiencies months earlier than they could using previous assessment solutions. We’ve also been able to more rapidly detect and correct districtwide curriculum gaps that we expect will help more schools reach or exceed proficiency on state tests.”

Ken Stoflet, Marketing Communications Specialist

Ken Stoflet is the Marketing Communications Specialist at Renaissance. He has been with Renaissance since 2015 and can be found crafting anything from a press release to a tweet. In his spare time, Ken enjoys spending time with his friends, lifting, and making yearly trips to the Frozen Tundra to cheer on the Green Bay Packers.

Ken Stoflet, Marketing Communications Specialist
Ken Stoflet, Marketing Communications Specialist
Ken Stoflet is the Marketing Communications Specialist at Renaissance. He has been with Renaissance since 2015 and can be found crafting anything from a press release to a tweet. In his spare time, Ken enjoys spending time with his friends, lifting, and making yearly trips to the Frozen Tundra to cheer on the Green Bay Packers.

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