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Researchers Develop Program to Highlight Learning Gaps for Students with Disabilities

Researchers Develop Program to Highlight Learning Gaps for Students with Disabilities

A team of researchers at Kansas University will soon launch a program that will help educators point out learning gaps for students with disabilities.

Since 2010, Neal Kingston, the man behind the project, has been working with his team to "build a new system for state education departments for measuring the progress of students with cognitive disabilities," according to an article on LJWorld.com.

"This is really the start of something that I expect is going to eventually radically change education," Kingston said.

The project, called Dynamic Learning Maps, is "a computer program that essentially visualizes all the things a student should learn, in successive order, in English language arts and math," the article said.

Dynamic Learning Maps "is fueled by a $22 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education and a staff of about 60 people," said the article. "It has been in field testing since spring 2014. Starting in March and continuing through the rest of the year, Kingston said, the system will go live in 19 states, including Kansas."

"The Dynamic Learning Maps™ (DLM®) Alternate Assessment System Consortium is composed of state departments of education along with a team of test developers, researchers, and educators who are passionate about helping students succeed," said the program's official website. "We are guided by the belief that all students should have access to challenging, grade-level content that helps improve their learning processes."

The program "orders it all like a massive road map, displaying different paths a student can take to learn a skill, such as understanding what an emotion is and building up to why a character in a text would feel a certain emotion," said LJWorld.com. "If a student is having trouble learning a skill, the map allows teachers to track back and identify a gap in the student's knowledge that blocks him or her from advancing."

"You need a road map," Kingston said. "That's what we're about."

According to the article, Colleen Riley, the director of early childhood special education for the Kansas State Department of Education, said she "expects Dynamic Learning Maps to have a strong impact on instruction — and the collection of performance data — for cognitively disabled students."

"We think we're going to eventually be able to help our teachers provide better instruction for students, and we will get a better sense of how these students are performing because of the computer-based enhancements in these assessments," she said.

Read the full story and comment below. 

Article by Kassondra Granata, Education World Contributor

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