Personalized learning and standards-based grading are both hot topics in the K-12 world, but how do they complement each other? We met with Emmett Wemp, the Personalized Learning Administrator at Nampa School District in Idaho, to learn about his journey to support SBG and personalized learning with Otus. In his role, he works in both the technology and instructional worlds to support teachers and administrators with edtech.
As a district, everyone at Nampa is completely aligned around using standards to measure student learning. So aligned that everyone at Nampa jumped into SBG without a tool to report it. They were using everything under the sun to track standards: spreadsheets, paper gradebooks, you name it. But those methods weren’t the best route to where they needed to be. That’s when they partnered with Otus.
Over the last 18 months, Nampa has used Otus to help successfully switch over 1,000 teachers to fully using SBG. Emmett shared, “We can’t personalize a student’s academic experience if we don’t know where they are. That’s where standards-based grading has played heavily into our district philosophy.”
Transparency Into Standards
Teachers are great at tracking their students—there’s no denying that. They know their students and where they are academically, but Nampa struggled to share that information outside the classroom. Emmett shared, “For us, that’s where the money was—being able to see and report out what was happening in classrooms. So that’s where Otus has really stepped in and filled that need.”
Otus was built with standards-based grading in mind. In Otus, SBG analytics are found in the standards gradebook, customized reports, and student profiles. Families also receive easy-to-read report cards that explain their student’s performance against standards. This transparency lets everyone know what’s happening inside the classroom and where students are headed.
Students First with Personalized Learning
Personalized learning is the core of Nampa School District. From differentiation to addressing learning gaps, there are endless ways educators and administrators put students first. Emmett expressed, “My hope would be a student goes, ‘Yeah, Nampa School District really made sure I was taken care of.’ That doesn’t always mean we created everything perfect and exact to that student, but the hope is that we tailor our academic experience to the student.”
An important component of Nampa’s personalized learning experience is having students become creators. To be creators, students need various skillsets and knowledge bases which Nampa is hoping to nourish. Emmett explained as students leave the district as creators, they’ll join the community and create an environment where everyone contributes to each other.
We can’t personalize a student’s academic experience if we don’t know where they are in their learning right now. That’s where standards-based grading plays heavily into our philosophy.
The Future of Nampa
After meeting with Emmett, it’s clear to see that Nampa School District is a special place. Although they’re a large district, they function and operate as a small family. He credits that tight-knit community to all being aligned on doing what’s right for students and families. They’re committed to SBG and staying focused on student learning. He shared, “You cannot do SBG if you don’t have a focus on student learning. Period, end of story. When you lean in on standards, that becomes your tunnel vision of student learning. All the other stuff becomes static that you have to ignore.”
We couldn’t agree more, Emmett. To learn more about Nampa School District, visit their website.
Otus is one K-12 learning platform to teach, grade, analyze, and plan. Interested in bringing Otus to your school community? Request a demo below, and let’s chat.