Opinion

Istation will help NC students read and save teachers time

Teacher Jeff Maynard, center, works on a reading lesson with one of his third-grade students at Brier Creek Elementary School in Raleigh, NC, on March 13, 2014. The students work in “reading camps” to prepare for end-of-grade tests to comply with with the Read to Achieve law.
Teacher Jeff Maynard, center, works on a reading lesson with one of his third-grade students at Brier Creek Elementary School in Raleigh, NC, on March 13, 2014. The students work in “reading camps” to prepare for end-of-grade tests to comply with with the Read to Achieve law. cseward@newsobserver.com

There has been a lot of debate surrounding the recent decision to switch North Carolina’s early education reading diagnostic assessment from the previous vendor Amplify to Istation for the upcoming school year. Unfortunately, much of the debate on social media channels has helped spread misinformation about our program Istation, its results and the tools that are both consistent and successful for millions of students across the country.

It’s important to set the record straight about Istation and our products that are going to be introduced to North Carolina’s schools, teachers and students starting this year.

The truth is that after six years with the same assessment company, Amplify’s mClass product, research experts from NC State University’s Friday Institute found no gains under Read To Achieve, the law that requires end of grade reading by 3rd grade. In a report by UNC Greensboro’s SERVE Center, 89 percent of teachers said the assessments took up too much instructional time, and 64 percent said the information gained wasn’t worth the instructional time lost.

These reports and others tell the real story. The numbers are in — and the current program is not working. State leaders were right to be frustrated and call for a revamp of the program. When North Carolina leaders asked for a different direction, Istation answered the call.

The result of Istation programs are consistently successful for young readers in districts across the country — including with End of Grade testing results. Our products have proven results based on years of research and by working closely with teachers and students. Istation is geared to support and identify students in need of intervention, and is already used in states as a screener of risk for dyslexia.

Created by teachers for teachers, our systems take as little as 30 minutes to screen an entire class of students. In so doing, Istation frees up teachers to immediately provide students with personalized one-on-one, small-group or whole-group instruction. We provide teachers with fully-scripted lessons in those areas the student needs, saving teachers more time by not having to design their own lesson plans. All this allows teachers to do the mighty and meaningful job of connecting, inspiring and teaching their students!

Educators are a critical part of the Istation process, and Istation is designed with teachers’ needs in mind. We know that using technology in the classroom in no way replaces the teacher, but advanced technology and tools can help a teacher be even more effective.

In recent weeks, we have worked with the state’s superintendents and the Department of Public Instruction to adjust the rollout plan that will accommodate more training, and believe that this solution will serve the state’s school districts and students well.

In the meantime, our customer success team is standing by all summer to help with implementation, technical support and general questions as the need arises. Training information is thorough and posted online at: www.istation.com/northcarolina.

Istation is honored to be chosen to work with North Carolina’s students. It is a position we take very seriously, as we have in many other states. Our products have a proven track record in districts throughout the country and we remain committed to rolling up our sleeves and getting to work with North Carolina’s teachers and parents to deliver the results that your students deserve.

Ossa Fisher is president and COO of Istation.

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