FreshGrade Wins Ed Tech Business Leader of the Year

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The 7th Annual Canadian Ed Tech Leadership Summit, held November 3rd 2016 in Toronto, has awarded the British Columbia company FreshGrade its first ever Ed Tech Business Leader of the Year Award.

EdTech Business Leader of the Year Award presented to Terri Brown, Director of Professional Development, FreshGrade (C) by Robert Martellacci, President, MindShare Learning Technology (L) and James Gallagher, G&A Corporate (R)

EdTech Business Leader of the Year Award presented to Terri Brown, Director of Professional Development, FreshGrade (center) by Robert Martellacci, President, MindShare Learning Technology (left) and

Our parents appreciate the informal and formal feedback and see strong value in the electronic portfolio. It provides an ongoing communication link to share the learning opportunities their children are experiencing in Wolf Creek classrooms.

The 7th Annual Canadian Ed Tech Leadership Summit, held November 3rd 2016 in Toronto, has awarded the British Columbia company FreshGrade its first ever Ed Tech Business Leader of the Year Award.

Chris Beese, president of FreshGrade, said “this award is a tribute to the team here at FreshGrade, and a strong indication that education is changing in some very significant ways. What we’re seeing in education right now is a real shift away from what we would call the diagnostic or summative assessment to more focus on formative assessment, which is understanding how children are learning. Where is their learning, what does that learning journey look like, and how do we capture document evidence of that learning?”

Beese continued “For example, what does the test really tell you? It tells you that they’ve got a B or an A. They’ve got an 84 or they’ve got 93. That really doesn’t tell the student or the parent very much about their learning. If you’re looking at 21st century learning and competencies that future employers are looking for in their employees, you’re looking at problem solving and collaboration and creativity or communication. How do you measure those with a test in a quantitative way?”

“With FreshGrade, what you can now do is provide the tools for teachers and students to document and capture their learning. For example, we can capture video or audio of a learner’s reading. We can look at reading and hear a student’s reading in September. We can understand where the deficiencies might be and what we might need to work on. At the same time, for that child to hear his reading in an audio recording and for the parent to hear that, that’s powerful. They can all understand where they’re at, where they’re trying to get to. In November, when they document the reading again, they can see where the improvements were made. The child is engaged because he sees improvement. Report cards can be very disengaging for students. By documenting the process, they can see their progress. For parents as well to be part of that learning process and understand where their child is; it demystifies learning for parents. And I think that’s the real key.”

The move towards a competency-based model where skills and competencies are documented is rapidly gaining acceptance in both Canada and the United States. FreshGrade is widely used in Canada, where educators have been making genuine strides in learning improvement.

Wolf Creek Public Schools in Alberta has found great success using FreshGrade. According to Mark McWhinnie, assistant superintendent for Wolf Creek Public Schools, “Working together with an excellent support team at FreshGrade, our teachers have quickly and easily embraced this digital tool. Our parents appreciate the informal and formal feedback and see strong value in the electronic portfolio. It provides an ongoing communication link to share the learning opportunities their children are experiencing in Wolf Creek classrooms. We selected FreshGrade over other potential portfolio tools as we strongly believe in choosing the right tool, for the right purpose. Our intention of finding a platform that communicates in an easy and seamless manner with parents, without adding extra or unnecessary work for teachers is being accomplished through our partnership with FreshGrade.”

Districts in the United States are beginning to see gains from FreshGrade as well. Jennifer Hayes, a high school Spanish Teacher in Matamora, Illinois, said “I wanted parents to see what students were doing on a daily basis, and to see how their Spanish language skills were growing. I use FreshGrade to give students their daily work, document their evidence of learning, and communicate with them and their families. FreshGrade allows me to differentiate instruction and to send a quick message to parents when I see great work or a downward trend in performance. Students know if they are meeting standards before it is a grade in the gradebook, and they have a chance to rise to the challenge.”

Steve Wandler, co-founder of FreshGrade, sees a shift in learning from talking about failure to talking about success. “If we can agree where we’re going, I think that as leaders in a system, we need to step out and do some scary things that we haven’t done before, or we’re going to lose our kids. We need to be thinking that way, and we need to empower our teachers to allow them to do fun, engaging things. We bury them in standardized testing requirements that don’t allow them—don’t allow—us to really understand where the learning is.

You need to involve everyone, including the parents. FreshGrade is a tool that allows us to see and document the learning and the improvement. Rather than being hit with a periodic (and often punitive) report card as the only measure of learning, students and parents can experience the learning and the progress in real time. So now they can have a conversation about the learning. And when you start talking about learning at the family dinner table, it changes the whole perspective in your family conversation because you’re not talking about test scores or do you have homework? You’re just talking about learning.”

FreshGrade is now available to school districts in the US nationwide. For information, visit http://www.freshgrade.com, email info@freshgrade.com, or phone +1 -877-957-7757.

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Jim Reams
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