Liwa International School for Girls, part of the Liwa Education Group, opened in 2016, and since, they have followed the mission of educating their students to “high academic, international standards by applying a learner-centred approach.” Indeed, within eight months of the school opening, they were proudly rated a Band A school by the Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge, and also pride themselves on implementing digital resources into their curriculum as they prepare their learners for an “evolving and changing world.”
At the school, Kate Hutchinson, Vice-Principal (K-5), states, “We follow the American curriculum, and part of our data collection is through NWEA MAP, which we’ve used since we started in 2016, to ensure our girls are benchmarked against international assessments.”
The school has always had outstanding progress but as Kate says, “we did need to raise attainment in the MAP subjects, so we looked at putting in provision to ensure the girls are successful at each MAP point.”
To do this, the school carried out research of MAP resources, and Kate states, “we had lots of resources from different websites using the RIT bands, but we found that this was hard to maintain, and the quality varied. That’s when we came across another school in the area that was using Exact Path. This was an ideal opportunity to reduce this varied quality MAP material that we have.”
Shakila Mohammed, Assistant Principal (K-5) at the school, agrees and says that “our teachers were working hard to find ways to incorporate MAP preparation, but this wasn’t enough as our plan was to raise attainment. We needed something that can be more effective, and also, the majority of our girls are English as a second language students and a program must have something that provides them with a lot of MAP-related vocabulary development, besides the question types. We also wanted our girls to be well-versed with the format of the MAP assessment.”
How They Did It
“Edmentum came up with the perfect solution,” Shakila states, “they introduced us to Exact Path. This platform took our girls’ MAP baseline scores, they were fed into Exact Path and a personalised learning path was created. Exact Path would look into the areas a student needed improvement in and set up lessons to help. The teacher could see reports generated and find the areas they needed to focus on. This made the job much easier. The teachers were really happy with it.”
However, part of the success of the Exact Path implementation came with impressive integration plans.
As Shakila states, “the first thing we did was to pick teachers to buy into the program. We took a trial of the platform and feedback was very positive. We started aligning all the building blocks into our school.
“The teaching and learning department worked on adapting the curriculum to fit Exact Path. We shifted homework online using it. Exact Path was also to be a major part of the rotation sessions and for holiday homework.”
Monitoring was also important and Exact Path helped as the school held meetings every week to review reports and discuss what went well which helped with positive changes.
Another point of success was the integration of Exact Path with parents. As Shakila states, “our parents are mostly Arabic-speaking, so the senior leadership team created an introductory video for parents, both in Arabic and English, to let them know about Exact Path’s connection to MAP assessment preparation.”
Kate also says that “at parents’ evening, we have the Edmentum video on as they come into the school so they can see Exact Path.”
The school also looks to encourage motivation, and this helped with the success of Exact Path, as Shakila states, “we had motivation as the key to push Exact Path. We had programs to celebrate success. Some of our awards were for the ‘best class for Exact Path’ and ‘teacher of the month’, which pepped up the teachers and they wanted to use Exact Path more.”
The school have also come up with ideas to help their students’ learning, such as an early morning club where, as Shakila mentions, “the girls come in early and one of the teaching staff would sit with them and work on their learning path.”
Overall, the staff embed Exact Path as much as possible to encourage student success, as Kate says, “finally, we just talk about it at every opportunity. If a child is in the playground and on an iPad, we might ask them whether they are on their learning path, so they get knowledgeable about their learning goals.”
After all the hard work, Liwa International School for Girls has seen some major success with Kate commenting,
“from term 1 to term 2 this year, we’ve seen the biggest attainment jumps. We’re very proud of that. Exact Path has definitely had a part to play in that.”
Also, the school has found that students understand their MAP skills much better and Kate states that “we’ve always been transparent with what they need to do to get better but now they’re working on it in a digital way, they can see those medals, so that’s been powerful.”
In terms of teacher workload, this has also improved, as Kate says, “we feel like we’ve reduced quantities of paper being printed and there is more quality in terms of MAP preparation, so teacher workload has reduced.”
Shakila agrees and says that previously, teaching could be a “major physical and mental workout. Now, with having that on a tablet, I just task the group with working on their learning path. This saves hours of preparation work and also means that it picks up what a child is weak at, gives practice lessons, worksheets, so kids can build on that particular skill.”
During this time of distance learning, education continuity has been made simple and effective, but above all, a success. Kate states,
“thankfully, Exact Path has been a good part of our distance learning journey. We know students can do this independently without much support, so that’s been a real benefit.”
Alongside this, teachers have found that Exact Path has relieved some stress too, as Shakila states, “having Exact Path helped us with distance learning because the children already had their learning path and we didn’t have to stress on prepping them. When we start in September, we’ll have our baseline and the girls are already prepared because they have continued working on their Exact Path learning path.”
When the school returns, they are expecting to help their students by reviewing where they are at. Having also missed term 3’s MAP assessment due to the pandemic, the school will be looking to see what gaps their students have so they can be addressed with the help of Exact Path, all with a view to continuing to maximise on the success of raising attainment.
Exact Path will be providing support throughout the whole school, as Kate states, “we use Exact Path all the way from grade one up to high school as we’ve found that it’s a platform that works well across the whole school, so that’s been a real benefit as well.”