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With funding from the SBIR program at the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) in the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and other sources, Children’s Progress developed and refined its computer-adaptive dynamic assessment (CPAA) for early childhood. The assessment covers concepts in early literacy and mathematics for students in pre-kindergarten through grade 3. The CPAA facilitates student learning through animated interactive scaffolding procedures and instructional activities. The CPAA also delivers immediate formative assessment information to teachers through graphical, progress, and narrative reports that help pinpoint and address specific areas for individualized instruction. The product also provides parental reports that explain assessment results in user-friendly language and suggest targeted “at-home” instructional activities.
Through years of collaboration between Columbia University researchers and technology developers at MIT, a new adaptive assessment platform was developed to deliver items based on how a student responded to each question (correctly, incorrectly, or correct with a hint) and to deliver individualized narratives for each student with a targeted description of a student’s assessment experience, indicating areas of strength and weakness. The specific assessment items for this project were designed to align to relevant standards and were iteratively developed though four steps. First, skeleton narrative storyboards were developed for each of the content areas that the CPAA addresses. Second, the production team authored the necessary artwork, Adobe Flash based animations, and voiceovers to create each item. Third, the items were field tested through “think alouds” between researchers and individual children and though beta-tests with larger groups of students. Fourth, modifications to the prototypes were made based on the feedback from this research.
Once complete, pilot testing to validate the CPAA was done in 32 schools with more than 2,400 students throughout New York City, Philadelphia, and in New Haven, Connecticut. Results demonstrated feasibility as the CPAA ran on a wide-range of computer hardware with minimal requirements, usability as students and teachers were able to use the CPAA to supplement normal classroom practices, and reliability as the CPAA performed consistently across three different administrations. Further, the external validity of the CPAA was demonstrated through testing in five schools with more than 800 students in Arizona. In this research, CPAA scores were consistent with results generated from other standardized tests including the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills, the Terra Nova Achievement Test, and the Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards. Further research is currently being planned to test the efficacy of the CPAA to support student learning.
Children’s Progress sells the CPAA (1) directly on its website and (2) through distribution agreements with Pearson, Measured Progress, Kaplan Early Learning, and the Early Childcare franchise, Goddard Systems. Children’s Progress also has a development partnership and distribution agreement with ERB. As of 2011, the CPAA is in use in more than 1,200 schools in 40 states (and internationally), including all grade schools in the state of Mississippi, and schools in cities including New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago The product renewal rate is maintained at 92%.
· Children’s Progress holds a US patent (No. 6,511,326 B1) for the proprietary adaptive assessment design of the CPAA.
Awards and Recognition:
· 2010 Inc. 500|5000 (#517 fastest growing privately-owned company nationwide)
· 2010 NYER (New York Enterprise Report) Best Practice (Customer Support)
· 2009 Inc. 500 (#267 fastest growing privately-owned company nationwide; #3 in the education sector)
· 2008 NYER Best Practice Winner (Technology)
About Children’s Progress:
Children’s Progress (www.childrensprogress.com) is an educational technology company that specializes in developing engaging computer-dynamic programs for young children that help educators pinpoint how to best challenge and support each child. The company grew out of decades of research at Columbia University and patented its products in collaboration with MIT. Children’s Progress products have been used by schools, districts, state agencies and early childcare centers nationwide.
Company Website: http://www.childrensprogress.com/
IES SBIR Program website:http://ies.ed.gov/ncer/sbir/