Fresno Unified School District has unveiled a new way for district and school leaders to identify which students are not being reached and then develop plans to engage them.
The data being collected comes from weekly teacher assignments in the ATLAS Gradebook tool.
The new tool, which was rolled out Monday, comes nearly two months after schools were closed to stem the spread of the coronavirus and instruction shifted to distance learning.
Since mid-March, the district has faced mounting criticism over its online curriculum, the district’s pace in providing internet-access devices to students, and reports that some parents and students were still waiting for the first contact from teachers long after the school shutdowns.
At last Wednesday’s board meeting, trustee Claudia Cazares and the two student trustees noted their concerns that some teachers have been doing the “bare minimum” of engagement with students. They said students and their parents expect more instruction from teachers.
Data Collection System Unveiled
In a communication to the board made public last Friday, Equity and Access director Kristi Imberi Olivares reported that Equity and Access, Curriculum and Instruction, School Leadership, Communication, and Information Technology representatives, in collaboration with the Fresno Teachers Association, had teamed up to develop a system to help schools collect data on teacher interaction with students.
The ATLAS Gradebook was selected because most teachers have access to and familiarity with it. ATLAS is a custom student information system that the district developed with Microsoft.
“As Fresno Unified continues to navigate distance learning through school closures, we wanted to ensure that students are being connected with and having every opportunity to access their teachers and academic content to continue their learning,” Imberi-Olivares reported.
Assignments for teachers will be created and distributed each week through Gradebook, each with a score guide. The tool also is available to students and parents through online district portals.
Three Assignments for Teachers Weekly
The first assignment for teachers is outreach, with zero points for no outreach attempted to five points for “conducted a contact opportunity” such as a Microsoft Teams meeting or Zoom teleconference and one or more other outreaches, such as emails or phone calls.
The second assignment is a score for student interaction, with zero points for no participation, response or engagement through five points for participating in a contact opportunity and one or more other interactions.
In the third assignment, teachers assign points as to whether translation, technology, or counseling follow-up is needed for students.
Data Collection Already Existed?
One elementary teacher, in response to GV Wire’s story about complaints that some teachers have been doing only the bare minimum of instruction, said that the district already has had the tools to track student activity and engagement.
“Administrators can actually track what teachers are doing to support their students while learning at home,” wrote Virginia Rivera, who teaches second grade at Viking Elementary School. “As a teacher, I can go on my Clever page to the Analytics tool and see in real time how many of my students are logged in and what educational resources they are using for learning.
“In addition to the Clever app, administrators can monitor activity on Office365 and the Microsoft Teams App. There is an abundance of data that can confirm that the vast majority of teachers are indeed providing educational support to their students. Fresno Unified Teachers as a group should not be accused of doing, ‘the bare minimum.’ “
District officials did not immediately respond to queries from GV Wire about whether tools such as Clever could have already enabled the district to track student-teacher interaction and engagement.
Romero said Monday afternoon that because schools were using different systems to track student-teacher contacts and involvement, it was nearly impossible to get a complete picture across the district.
The new system will let the district track contact and engagement data more uniformly, she said.