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LinkIt! Partners with Hunterdon County School District to Provide Data-Driven Instruction in Schools

Public-private partnership strives to improve student performance and teacher effectiveness

LinkIt! (http://www.linkit.com), the data-driven education technology company, announced today that they have been selected by Hunterdon County Educational Services Commission to implement a strategic data-driven instruction and evaluation system. The groundbreaking public-private partnership will provide sustainable technology designed to accelerate student performance gains and automate time-consuming data capture and analysis tasks. The collaboration between the two organizations will bring the latest in data-driven education solutions to schools in Hunterdon County and throughout the State.

Together with Hunterdon ESC, LinkIt! will offer participating schools and school districts with a cost-effective way to benchmark student performance, enabling comparisons on a class-wide, school-wide and district-wide basis. As New Jersey teacher tenure laws change, LinkIt! will assist NJ teachers in preparing for evaluations by providing constant feedback through the company’s comprehensive reporting system and data warehouse solutions. Over the course of the next two years, LinkIt! and HCESC anticipate introducing a series of customized technology offerings for NJ schools to help streamline the transition to Common Core State Standards and a new generation of student assessments.

“During the course of our focus groups and surveys, we found that an overwhelming majority of teachers and administrators in New Jersey are unhappy with current technology offerings and believe that more could be done to improve student learning if the right tools became available,” says Joshua Powe, co-founder and president of LinkIt! “We’re confident we’ve created a system that can help them drive student achievement and teacher effectiveness and we’re excited to usher in a new era of data-driven education into New Jersey schools,” he adds.

While data-driven technology is not new to schools, its function in day-to-day instruction and preparation for benchmarking exams is only beginning to materialize across the country. In the era of decreasing school budgets and necessity to raise student performance, the Hunterdon Co. Educational Services Commission was tasked with finding a cost effective consortium model for testing and reporting. After evaluating twelve of the leading data-driven education technology providers, LinkIt! was selected and has prepared for district wide implementation beginning this summer and continuing into the school year.

“Hunterdon County ESC is committed to becoming New Jersey’s leading provider of support services related to assessment technology and performance management tools,” says Dennis Cox, Hunterdon County’s Superintendent. “We’re excited to work with LinkIt! and show how much of a difference we can make by applying the lessons learned from relevant empirical data for the benefit of our students and to support our teachers,” he adds.

The partnership follows the recent national research reports released by LinkIt!, the 2010 Principal Data-Driven Instruction Survey and Trends in Data-Driven Instruction. The results highlight the high demand for data-driven instruction systems, yet show weak utilization and systemic challenges hamper adoption and efficacy in the state of New Jersey. However, the research also reveals that in New Jersey, 91% of principals and 86% of administrators believe that data-driven instruction is either “more important than ever” or “very important,” even in an era of cash-strapped school budgets. Though nearly all NJ principals recently surveyed predicted that data would be the primary driver of what is taught within four years, 70% of the respondents reported that NJ teachers are not using data to regularly inform instructional practice. The resource group cited various reasons from lack of proper training, insufficient time to analyze data and limited access to efficient and appropriate tools. “NJ school districts are telling us that they want one platform for both low-stakes and NJ state assessments to help bridge accountability demands with instructional outcomes. They also are demanding that tools be teacher friendly, easy to use with practical features that help put data immediately into practice in the classroom. Schools have the flexibility of using their own assessments or using LinkIt!’s New Jersey assessments which are highly correlated to the NJASK. This allows teachers to quickly identify which students are at risk, remediate specific student need and differentiate their instruction,” says Ryan Winter, LinkIt’s New Jersey Manager of School Partnerships.

The persistent budgetary challenges are also creating obstacles for districts to provide the proper infrastructure and environment to support a healthy and robust data-driven culture. “The economic environment has required NJ school districts to do more with less. Our partnership with Hunterdon ESC provides us with local support that is knowledgeable about the specific needs and challenges of New Jersey schools,” says Josh Powe.

Because school districts have a range of needs in the area of assessment technology and data systems, LinkIt! offers a comprehensive suite of solutions, including LinkIt! Express, the industry’s first free district-wide benchmarking tool, and LinkIt! Tech, an enterprise level data warehouse and dashboard-style reporting platform. The company also offers content solutions, including a library of assessment and instructional materials correlated to NJ Standards and Common Core and the ETS® K-12 Formative Assessment Item Bank. “The pressing need to provide data-driven solutions that are powerful, flexible and sustainable has never been more urgent and that is what makes LinkIt! such a valuable tool for educators and administrators,” says Superintendent Cox. “By providing both free and low-priced options for districts in Hunterdon County and Statewide, we can take a great leap forward in fulfilling our mission to leverage our experience around data systems and assessment for the benefit of NJ schools,” Cox concluded.