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March 15th, 2012

By: Cathy Ellingsworth

Educators are feeling more pressure than ever before due to increased accountability measures, from the lingering No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) to the current hotbed of discussion around performance-based pay.  The Silverback Mileposts™ program was not created as a result of these initiatives; however it was created to address the same underlying dilemma that educators have faced ever since the chalk screeched across the first blackboard:  How do we maximize achievement for each student?  Despite the mounting pressures from so-called “reforms” thrust upon our field by external forces, I’m inspired by how many teachers across this country continue undeterred in their mission to help the individual student succeed. What better way to help these inspiring educators than by placing data in their hands that can help drive instruction and educational support at the individual student level?

Data, Data, Everywhere

Teacher struggling to carry heavy binders full of dataThere is no doubt schools are collecting data.  In fact we collect more data than we can handle.  We spend vast amounts of our money and our time gathering and organizing data.  How many student information and assessment program log-ins, spreadsheets, notebooks, and three-ring binders full of data exist in your school?  When schools set aside planning time to work with data, the bulk of this time is wasted collecting and organizing data instead of putting that data into action.  On planning days you see your colleagues downloading reports from the multitude of information systems at your district, hunched over spreadsheets of assessment results and/or shuffling through a pile of paper with scissors, tape, and highlighters in hand.   We spend so much time reorganizing data we have little time left to understand and digest the data in order to make informed decisions for instruction.

Silverback Makes Data Work for Educators

Mileposts screenshot: state standards with benchmarks overlayI am guilty of all of the time wasting activities listed above.  I worked for years leading educators in charter schools in the urban centers of the Midwest to bridge the racial and economic achievement gaps that exist in our country.  In this work I learned that without data to help us, we lose precious time spinning our wheels between cure-all curriculum programs and nondescript interventions.  From the first time I met Dr. Lewis and the team at Silverback Learning, I could see they had created something unique.  Instead of having to chase down student information and assessment results from various systems, the Mileposts product collects all of that data and collates it down to the individual student, where educators can access it instantly and securely from any web browser.  More than that, Mileposts helps teachers view and analyze data intuitively, so they can answer the critical question of “what do I do next?”  Mileposts has the individualized learning and intervention management tools to help teachers make decisions and document the flow of educational support given to each student.  The collaborative design of Mileposts means that educators have the power to implement “we” solutions instead of “me” solutions, and the power to include students and parents more effectively into a shared team of accountability.

Educators Make Silverback Work for Us

The Mileposts solution is a tool we educators need to make data forefront in the culture of our schools.  It puts data in the hands of teachers, cutting down the time required to assemble and digest data, and giving that time back to teachers so that they can plan the appropriate instructional activities for each student through collaborative methods.   I believe this tool has the power to make a difference in the lives of children, and that’s the reason I joined the Silverback team.  I’m not alone.  The members of the management team alone at Silverback have over 150 years of combined practitioner-level experience as teachers, administrators, curriculum directors, and technical directors within US school systems.  It’s easy to see why Silverback Mileposts is quickly becoming the choice of educators for the management of student longitudinal data, individualized learning plans, and Response to Intervention (RtI.)  I’m proud to be a part of Silverback, and I’d love to talk to any other educators out there who want to make data start working for them instead of the other way around.  Email me at cellingsworth@silverbacklearning.com.  I’d love to hear from you!

Cathy Ellingsworth’s Bio

 


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