How Administrators Monitor Progress in Virtual Environments
By Jennifer Leonard, FlexPoint Education Cloud eSolutions Specialist
Building an effective digital education program doesn’t stop after implementation. In fact, there are many components school administrators are responsible for to ensure the success of students and the learning program.
One of the most important elements is monitoring progress and knowing what to look for in terms of data.
As expected, monitoring progress in an online environment can look a little different than in the traditional brick-and-mortar setting. With the use of Student Information Systems (SIS) as well as Learning Management Systems (LMS), administrators will be able to pull real-time data reports on student learning progression. Using these on-demand reports, there are several areas administrators will want to monitor on a regular basis.
First, tracking student progress using a gradebook report is a fundamental administrative (and instructional) practice to ensure students are successful. Run gradebook reports weekly to evaluate student educational growth. Most reports will highlight areas for concern such as failing grades and comparable class mastery statistics. When digging deeper into gradebook reports, particularly for students that are not mastering content, evaluate the time spent on each activity. Data such as this can reveal whether students are spending the appropriate amount of time on assessments, or if they are spending too much or not enough time. This information will provide some insight into why the student is not making the necessary progress.
Online Activity and Attendance
Another area to monitor routinely is student attendance. The expectations and the way you measure attendance might look different in a virtual setting. Whether students are required to work in courses daily or weekly, use student activity reports to verify that every student is maintaining the necessary learning momentum. Activity reports can provide real-time information on student log in dates and times, the lesson/assessment being worked on, and the amount of time spent on each lesson/assessment. When monitoring student pace, be sure to consider any accommodations required for students with an IEP, 504 plan, or extenuating circumstances. If the SIS or LMS provides an area to record such accommodations, that may be helpful when evaluating such large data sets. The goal here is to ensure students are fully engaged and maintaining the required learning pace to help them be successful.
Furthermore, the backbone of an effective program is the instructors and they are just as important to monitor as the students. Establish instructional expectations for teachers around communication, grading turnaround time, live lessons, and grading feedback. These factors will contribute to student success and should be monitored regularly.
Pull teacher responsiveness reports to assess whether student submitted work is being returned with feedback in a reasonable amount of time as to not hinder student progression. Evaluate teacher communication by selecting assessments from the course gradebook and reviewing grading feedback. If instructors are required to use a logging system to record phone, text, and/or email communication with students and stakeholders, use those logs as another way to assess instructional practices. Keep in mind that communication is a vital part to the digital learning experience for students.
Whether you are a seasoned virtual school administrator or just starting out, monitoring progress for both students and teachers will help to build and maintain an effective program as well as provide the information needed to make informed decisions.
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