Assessments, Learning Loss, and the Future of Learning

A lot of people in the education industry are talking about how the pandemic fundamentally changed education, simply because it was being delivered through a different medium.

We disagree.

If the means by which we expect students to learn is not allowed to change, then change doesn’t happen just because we vary the medium through which education is delivered. In fact, most educators, often bound by the curriculum requirements of their districts, are still teaching the same subjects in the same way with the same assessments. Just because they’re doing it online instead of in person doesn’t mean anything has fundamentally changed – and fundamental changes to education are what we really need.

We Need to Stop Focusing on Failure

If a student is excelling in music and art while failing math and science, then that doesn’t mean they’re failing as a student. It means they demonstrate exceptional skill in areas that can lead to innovation. In order to foster the true passion and talent in every student, we need to make a fundamental change in how we assess success. This point has been brought to bear on how we evaluate learning loss as a result of the pandemic. Dr. Yong Zhao explains during an interview with Dr. Wendy Oliver, published on EdisonLearning:

The pandemic has created a very unhappy environment for a lot of children. They’re isolated, they’re not going to school, and they’re not talking to friends. But at the same time, we probably should pay attention to see how they have grown. Human beings learn from experiences. These experiences have changed our children in different ways. Perhaps now they are better at handling adverse situations. They are now better at making friends online, which is essential in today’s life. Maybe your children are becoming more independent in learning? These are the types of things he stresses we really need to focus on.

Right Now, We Assess Failure and Focus on Failure

From early on in our students’ educational journeys, we focus on measuring failure. We conduct spelling and math tests and mark what they get wrong. We focus on how far beneath the average they are and we assume that wherever they are at that moment academically is where they will remain. This places an undue burden on the students and the teachers when they are forced to approach education in this way. Instead, we should be focused on the successes and strengths students have. When we focus on successes and strengths and take the time to understand a student’s passions and interests, we can find ways to improve their subject matter expertise by teaching through their passions.

Every Student Deserves to Have an IEP

Right now, the only students who qualify for an IEP (Individualized Education Program) are those students who have a disability that is recognized by the federal government. But shouldn’t every student have an individualized learning plan that is customized to meet their needs and help them achieve the best outcome?

We must be particularly cautious as we come out of the pandemic, as there is a push to assess students and determine what they’ve lost by learning from home. Brian Moon explores this in terms of the unbounded concern over learning loss. He points out that part of the problem stems from education focusing on the wrong question: “How do we help students perform better on standardized tests?” By doing this, we are forcing teachers to teach to the test and focus on teaching what students need to know to pass tests instead of engaging their minds.

Moon suggests a new question: “How do we use assessment to accelerate, deepen, and showcase individual student learning?”

How Do We Use Assessment to Accelerate, Deepen, and Showcase Individual Student Learning?

That is the question that needs to be explored as we redefine education in the twenty-first century. But in doing so, let’s focus on Moon’s point:

We need not categorize students as deficient in order to justify improving the efficiency, depth, and meaning of their learning experiences. Assessment scores are finite, but learning is limitless. When we center student growth – rather than points or percentiles – as the goal of education, we expand the possibilities for how schools can provide value.

The Future of Learning

The future of learning should be individualized. Assessments should not be used to penalize students but rather to help encourage learning. And what students learn should be modernized and revolutionized so that the students moving through the education system today are prepared to live, work, and engage in the society of tomorrow. Learn more about how Lumen Touch is contributing to the future of learning.

Virtual Learning in a Time of Crisis with Bright Student

Ollie Puls is a geometry teacher and technology specialist at South Harrison School District in Bethany, MO. She has many years of experience providing instruction in a virtual setting and has benefitted from her forward-thinking school district that has encouraged their teachers to leverage online instruction tools for the past seven years. Ollie uses Bright Student to teach her geometry classes. So, when the pandemic sent everyone home for the year, not only was she able to continue supporting her students fully, but she was able to do so while suddenly being home with her 6-year-old twins. We spoke to Ollie about her experience using Lumen™ Touch; you can watch the video here.

Benefits of Using Lumen Touch for Distance Learning

Bright Learning™ is a comprehensive, integrated district curriculum and learning management system, which allows school districts to map objectives and skills to student learning activities and assess student mastery on a continual basis. Bright Learning is an all-in-one solution, which manages curriculum, instruction, assessment, and grading. Our system allows teachers to create and share learning activities with other instructors and districts from across the country.

Work-Life Balance

Before Lumen Touch, Ollie was spending about eight hours every Sunday grading papers. She would stay at work until 8 pm every night. She knows that, had she not discovered Lumen Touch and had the opportunity to revolutionize her instruction, she would not have been able to keep teaching once she had her twins.

Lesson Delivery

Ollie took the PowerPoint slides she was using in class, recorded video lectures to go with them and loaded them into Lumen Touch. Now her students get more time with their teacher. They can watch the lectures and have lessons delivered right to their laptops at their convenience, and then, when they come to class, they have time to ask questions, get clarification on confusing points, and have time to work on lessons. Teachers have control of how far ahead students are allowed to work.

Testing that Works for Teachers and Students

Ollie can load a test into Lumen Touch faster than she can go to the copy room and make copies of tests. Bright Student offers wide-ranging functionality, even with a course as complex as geometry, which requires the use of symbols and equations. Teachers can:

  • Set up a test or quiz so that students can check their answers and try again until they get them right (this option can also be toggled off for exams)
  • Allow more than one right answer
  • Have open-ended questions that require a written answer or essay response
  • Grade a test, then allow students to make corrections by toggling on the check-your-answer feature
  • Adjust grades with a quick review to allow for partial credit or corrections
  • Reuse tests and shuffle questions so that no two students are looking at the same questions at the same time

More Time to Support Students

Because the Lumen system does the heavy lifting on the grading and lesson delivery, the time teachers and students spend together (whether in the classroom or on Zoom or similar video conferencing platform) can be better spent working to improve the students’ understanding and capabilities. Teachers get more one-on-one time with students and can better individualize instruction to support each student.

Less Stress, Even During a Crisis

For teachers using Bright Student, who already have tests and lessons loaded, shifting to distance learning does not require anything more than setting up one-on-one meetings with students, to check on their progress. The stress level is lower; the students can continue their work without experiencing a major disruption, and the teachers have time to provide needed support. Parents aren’t having to step in and do the teaching.

Lumen Touch has the same capabilities when used remotely as it does at the school.  This empowers the school staff, students, and parents the ability to interact with each other in a new learning environment that accommodates distance learning. Bright Learning was designed to be a flexible system that allows for many ways of accomplishing different tasks and achieving better outcomes – even when school is canceled, and everyone is learning from home.

At Lumen Touch, our goal is to support schools, teachers, and students. We focus on improving the learning opportunities for children, demonstrating measurable outcomes. Learn more.

The Future of Education

For the past few weeks, our team has been busy attending some of the largest education conferences in our area, including the 2020 KASEA Winter Conference and Kansans Can 2020. While there are some challenges facing the education industry that are being complicated by the coronavirus, these conferences left us inspired about what the future of education will look like.

Why These Conferences Matter

Gathering with fellow educators, solutions providers, and decision makers gives us all a chance to share ideas and learn from each other. This year’s conferences were focused on student success, the evolution of education, and developing a world-class education standard in Kansas that can serve as a template to districts throughout the country.

The Kansans Can and Do! Symposium, co-sponsored by the Kansas State Department of Education and the Kansas Association of Education Service Agencies was, “designed to assist administrators, administrative teams, and school leaders with the process of implementing the Kansans Can initiative. All symposium presentations, guided discussions, and collaboration time [focused] on facilitating high levels of conversation.”

The Kansas Association of Special Education Administrators (KASEA) Winter Conference theme was “Fostering Success.” KASEA realizes that leaders in education “strive to create an environment that leads toward the success of all students, teachers, and leaders in our organization.”

Educators Are All In

Every educator we saw, spoke to, or listened to had one thing in common: They are committed to providing the best possible education to students and are willing to embrace the solutions and technologies that will benefit their students, free teachers to engage more concretely with students, and stretch their budgets so that they can do more for their students. Everywhere we turned, there was a focus on the importance of STEM – and more importantly, STEAM education

It Takes a Village

Giving our students in this country the education they need and deserve really does take all of us – from parents and teachers to administrators and legislators. Everyone must work together to create a generation of engaged learners. Lumen Touch is committed to being a part of the evolution of education in Kansas and throughout the country.

At Lumen Touch, we know that there are no simple answers to solving the big challenges that face schools. But there are changes that can make a difference. To learn more about how Lumen Touch can help your school with our all-in-one solution, get in touch.

Bright Care: Empowering Schools to Manage Student Health More Effectively

Lumen Touch CEO, Dr. John Vandewalle, was recently a panel speaker for a GG4L-hosted webinar about the role EdTech plays in physical health and wellness with regard to making schools safer. Among the topics discussed during the webinar was the struggle schools face in managing absenteeism and chronic health issues, such as asthma and allergies. You can listen to the webinar here.

Effective Student Health Center Management Is the Cornerstone of Success in Every School

Student Health Centers (SHCs) play a significant role in the management of physical health and wellness for students. Whether you’re communicating with parents and community members, school board members, teachers, or the students themselves, having the ability to manage students’ health can reduce chronic absenteeism and missed class times. Lumen Touch provides support for SHCs with the Bright Care™ student medical health management system.

What Is Bright Care™?

Bright Care is a comprehensive student medical record management system that provides immediate and historical information. It can be implemented as a standalone process or as part of Bright Student™. Some system features include:

  • Medication inventory
  • Daily medications schedule
  • Student medication chart (dosage and expiration dates)
  • Customizable school screenings, which include mass screenings
  • BMI and physicals that can be linked to extracurricular activity groups

One of the ways in which Bright Care comes into play is when a student is getting lunch in the cafeteria. The system can be set up to monitor what the student chooses to eat, trigger an alert if they choose something that they are allergic to, and prevent them from checking out that item. It can also communicate to teachers, alerting them about peanut allergies in the classroom so that they can plan accordingly for school parties and classroom snacks. Our solutions go beyond just communication, however.

Using Student Data to Reduce Absenteeism

One of the large school districts with whom Lumen Touch works had a significant absenteeism rate. By analyzing student data for absences, we discovered that a large percentage of absences were due to the school not having a comprehensive treatment protocol for students who had asthma. By working with the school and local medical providers, we were able to significantly reduce that absenteeism rate.

At the End of the Day, It’s About Efficiency

Schools are charged with the most daunting of tasks: to provide for the education, safety, and wellness of the students in their communities. This can be overwhelming, and while there is a lot of data available, the power comes from being able to leverage that data effectively to save time, save money, and make better, more well-informed decisions that benefit teachers, students, and the community at large.

At Lumen Touch, we know that there are no simple answers to solving the big challenges that face schools. But there are changes that can make a difference. Bright Care is part of our Bright Student package and a powerful tool for schools. To learn more, get in touch.

Bright SPED: Delivering the Individualized Education that Students Need

Today’s school population is complex and dynamic, especially when trying to facilitate and meet the specialized needs of students on 504s and IEPs. It’s not that the teacher can’t or won’t provide required accommodations; it’s often the process that hinders success: How do you make sure every teacher knows about a student’s accommodations without violating their HIPAA and FERPA rights? Without overtaxing SPED teachers, how do you make it easy for them to deliver the education that students need?

Give Teachers and Aides the Tools They Need

Most schools rely on forms-driven solutions for special education. It’s all about IEP and 504 completion. But a form is not a student. And a form is not a teacher. To make SPED work for the people involved – the students, the teachers, the aides, the parents, and the CSE teams – schools and districts need a solution that lets teachers take the time they spend working on IEPs and use that time instead to work with students.

How Bright SPED™ Transforms Special Education

Bright SPED is designed to address the complexities and changing dynamics of special education planning, development, and reporting. It delivers powerful functionality through a data-driven infrastructure that does not rely on forms processing, providing schools with a comprehensive, timesaving, web-based tool for special education programs. This significant difference is one of the aspects that allows Bright SPED to meet federal and state compliance modifications in a timely way.

What Does Bright SPED™ Mean for Your School?

Bright SPED is designed for the user experience. Teachers who work with students who have individualized needs can view or print IEPs with the click of a button, so there so is never any requirement to dig through a paper file to find out about accommodations or special curriculum goals. It also guides teachers through the entire IEP process, including the time-consuming process of developing annual goals. Bright SPED makes it easier for teachers to build IEPs, communicate with parents and team members, and support students.

  • For teachers, it means less frustration and more time working directly with students. This in turn results in better job satisfaction, less attrition, and more time to collaborate with other teachers.
  • For parents, it means easier communication and the confidence in knowing that their child’s accommodations are disseminated to every teacher and support professional who works with the student.
  • For the student, it means needs can be met more confidentially and more effectively, so that the overall education experience is more positive.
  • For school and district administrators, compliance stops being a headache.

Teachers are taxed beyond their capacity in every way in today’s public schools. They are expected to meet not only a variety of educational mandates and goals but an extraordinary number of compliance-related demands – all while still creating engaging lesson plans, providing emotional support to students, and meeting their own continuing ed licensing requirements. Lumen Touch exists to make it easier for teachers to meet all of those demands without losing the joy in doing what they love: teaching students.


Schools that implement Lumen Touch experience an average savings of 30% to 60%, which is realized from the time of engagement. In addition, Lumen Touch eases the aggravation that may result from negotiating with multiple vendors and removes the need for telecom contracts, carriers, and fees.

If meeting EdTech mandates has overwhelmed your school and district, let Lumen Touch demonstrate how we can free you up to focus on what’s really important: educating students and creating the leaders of the future. Email us at sales@lumentouch.com, call us at 816.880.0066, or visit www.lumentouch.com.