Category: Partner News & Resources

The State of Assessment in K-12 Education: 2023 Research Study & Trends

Instructure–in partnership with Hanover Research–surveyed 1,000 administrators, teachers, and assessment specialists nationwide about the role of assessment in K-12 classrooms. The educators have spoken. Here’s what they had to say.

81% of educators reported that their school’s culture is assessment-focused. This number confirms what we’ve known for years–assessment is an essential part of the learning process. We dug in to define what ‘assessment-focused’ means and–more importantly–is it enough to elevate student success?

The State of Assessment in K-12 Education research report provides insights into current assessment strategies, emerging trends, and a glimpse into the future of assessment.

What is covered:

Contact your dedicated Account Manager:

Rob Residori
Director of Partnerships
(773) 273-9419

Learn More About LearnPlatform



Back-to-School is an exciting time of the year for everyone in your district. But it can also be stressful for a variety of reasons.

As students re-adjust to the structures of school schedules and the stresses of social interactions, passions, and conflict can boil over.

Mental health is an essential issue in our communities today. The impacts of the long pandemic and a variety of challenges in society are weighing on our children in numerous ways. We all need to do our part to help them cope with these pressures and their environment mentally, psychologically, and emotionally.

This guide is an attempt to help district leaders understand how they can use technology to detect potential student safety signals that can come up in school Google Workspace and Microsoft 365 apps. The six types of signals and examples discussed in this guide are based on stories we’ve heard from our customers over the years.

Plus, gain access to a downloadable spreadsheet with keywords/phrases for each category that you can use to help set up your cloud monitoring technology!

This guide discusses the following safety risks:

  1. Bullying & Discrimination
  2. Self-Harm & Suicide
  3. Threats & Acts of Violence
  4. Substance Abuse
  5. Sexual Content
  6. Abusive Relationships

Contact your dedicated Account Manager:

David Waugh
Sales and Marketing Vice President

Learn More About ManagedMethods

Pitsco Educator Grant

Teachers, you make things happen. Pitsco is so appreciative of all you do to positively impact learners. They are here to cheer you on and assist with funding more opportunities for your students.

  • The Pitsco Educator Grant is open to preK-college educators in traditional classrooms, out-of-school settings, and homeschool.
    Applications are accepted from the first day of each month to the last day of the month (for example, the January grant application period is January 1-31).
  • One $350 grant will be awarded each month at the discretion of Pitsco Education in the form of a Pitsco voucher, not redeemable for cash.
  • The selected educator will be contacted via email and/or phone to confirm acceptance of the grant.
  • The $350 value can be applied across multiple transactions until the total is depleted to $0.
  • An educator may be awarded only one $350 grant during a 12-month period.
  • At a later date, Pitsco will ask each winner to share their experience using the products purchased with the grant.

Contact your dedicated Account Manager:

Erica Lopez-Negrete Smith
Illinois Sales

Learn More About Pitsco Education


Otus Talks: How Personalized Learning is Enacted in a Top Rated School | Otus

How One of the Nation’s Top-Performing Schools Uses Personalized Learning to Drive Student Success: An Interview with Dr. Paul O’Malley, Superintendent of Butler School District 53

How Personalized Learning is Enacted in a Top Rated School | Otus

A Conversation with Dr. Paul O’Malley

We sat down with Dr. Paul O’Malley, superintendent of Butler School District 53, to learn about how he and his colleagues are using Otus to harness powerful student data to drive personalized student learning plans, and how he has helped his district to become one of the highest-performing in the nation. In 2022, Brook Forest Elementary School was named a National Blue Ribbon School by the United States Department of Education – marking the fourth time a school in the Butler district has received the prestigious accolade, which is awarded to less than 1% of schools nationwide. Butler was also awarded the Whole Child Award by the Illinois ASCD in 2018. In a recent issue of ILASCD Quarterly Journal, Dr. O’Malley shared the success his district has found through individualized learning plans and how Otus helped make it happen.

Three key takeaways from our conversation with Dr. Paul O’Malley

  1. The importance of data-driven personalized learning plans

Dr. O’Malley highlights the value of using data to drive personalized student learning and the success his district has found through this approach. By leveraging data for decision-making and promoting data literacy among stakeholders, Butler has enhanced student engagement, fostered communication and collaboration, and promoted educational equity. This data-centric approach has boosted student outcomes and propelled the district to the pinnacle of performance rankings.

Otus Plans on an iPad

  1. Embrace a slow, methodical approach, and rely on support

To ensure educators become more data-wise and comfortable with new systems, Dr. O’Malley recommends a slow and methodical approach, including training and professional development, as well as partnering with companies like Otus to create comprehensive calendars and training programs and provide ongoing support long after the initial onboarding phase. Dr. O’Malley also emphasizes both the challenges and benefits of getting staff to buy into new data-driven initiatives. Implementing a new system like Otus often encounters resistance. However, by involving stakeholders with diverse viewpoints, there’s an assurance of collective agreement, confirming that the new product is appropriate and truly fulfills its intended role.

  1. Balance technology with other aspects of education

While technology like Otus can be a valuable tool for supporting student growth, Dr. O’Malley stresses the importance of balancing technology use with other activities, such as field trips and hands-on learning experiences, to maintain a well-rounded educational experience. Technology is just one tool in an educator’s toolbelt, and will never replace the meaningful experiences that are essential to a well-rounded educational journey.

See the full transcript and learn more by visiting

Looking to place an order? Contact your dedicated Account Manager and mention ILTPP:

Paul Kaskovich 
Account Executive
773-789-5444 x110

Learn More About Otus

Three ways to build social- emotional learning into classroom culture

Social-emotional learning (SEL) has gained wide attention in today’s classrooms, and several schools have devoted as much as 10% of their time toward teaching these skills. Fortunately, relationship-building is a key component in SEL instruction—and there are certain things educators can do to maximize this advantage and use SEL time to get to know their learners.

Administrators can support their teachers by making sure they have access to appropriate resources (e.g., texts that are culturally relevant and include SEL themes) and training in student-centered SEL instruction. Even if you don’t have access to Newsela’s SEL Collection, your teachers can still use Newsela content to support social-emotional learning.

Contact your dedicated Account Manager:

General inquiries: 

New Newsela Schools or Districts
Jenny Pearl
Illinois Partnerships

Current Newsela Partners
Nicky Dunlap
Illinois Partnerships

Learn More About Newsela

Meet the Lightspeed Classroom Management New User Experience

Lightspeed’s cloud-based Lightspeed Classroom Management software has a fresh new look and improved functionality designed to save teachers time and place increased focus on instruction.

The refreshed User Experience is clean and intuitive, making it easier to find and access features. There is also a larger focus on student screen monitoring with enhanced functionality for increasing or decreasing screen size and navigating into a full-screen mode to see all student screens in the classroom.

Get Organized with the New “My Classes Homepage”

Teachers can manage all of their classes in the cloud with the new modern, intuitive, and customizable “My Classes” homepage, designed for easy navigation. Easily add and hide classes with the click of a button.

cloud-based classroom management homepage

Classroom Management with Scalable Screens

Teachers love using Lightspeed’s cloud-based classroom management software for its online activity and student screen monitoring features, so this capability has been significantly upgraded and enhanced in the new User Experience.

Students’ screens can now be scaled up or down to a teacher’s liking using the sizing slider in the top navigation menu. An individual screen can be zoomed into full size, which also allows for the projection of that student’s screen to the entire class using the Share Screen functionality.

cloud-based classroom management scalable screens

Manage the Classroom Experience with Ease

Classroom management controls have also improved to make them easier to use and provide increased functionality. Teachers can now color code web rule lists for easier management, pause internet browsing for the whole class for instant eyes-up focus, and see students who are active in another class and add them to their own with a simple click.

classroom management web rules


Contact your dedicated Account Manager:

Lightspeed Systems
Mark Merluzzi
Sales Director

Learn More About Lightspeed Systems

K-12 Cybersecurity Starts Here

As there has been increased focus and need surrounding EDR (Endpoint Detection and Response), JourneyEd and Malwarebytes have teamed up to provide ILTPP members with affordable pricing/benefits without sacrificing quality and security. Malwarebytes provides an EDU-specific solution to help you choose which solutions are right for your school and district, including:

  • Protection and remediation capabilities with EDR
  • Managed Detection and Response (MDR)
  • Mobile device protection (Chromebooks included!)
  • Vulnerability and Patch Management
  • DNS/Content Filtering

Please contact Christine at JourneyEd for your own personal demo and tailored pricing.

Contact your dedicated Account Manager:

Christine McConnell
Senior Account Manager

Learn More About JourneyEd

The Right to Read: Rebuilding Early Literacy Programs

Just Right Reader decodables empower students to experience equitable learning through culturally relevant, engaging texts, which induce a love of reading and an authentic sense of belonging in a global society. Additionally, our robust set of titles offers inclusive learning opportunities to students through fictional and informational text, proven to be the best way for students to learn to read. We have more than 450 titles in our library. We’ve partnered with literacy experts Dr. Ray Reutzel, Ph.D., and Dr. Heidi Anne Mesmer, who have endorsed our decodables, helped develop classroom routines for teachers, and ensured our decodables meet the criteria to support student success in reading! Just Right Reader decodables are used by school districts in 48 states in the U.S. and Canada.

Education is a constitutional right, but several students felt it was not being fulfilled after falling behind on reading assessments. In 2017, this led to 10 young readers filing and winning a class action lawsuit against their state for failing to provide adequate literacy instruction.

The Problem

Teachers, especially in underserved and minority communities, require more resources and support. Often, they’re handed materials that don’t align with research or are provided evidence-based materials and not told how to use them.

This gap resulted in students scoring in the <1 percentile on reading assessments for years with minimal intervention. Goldberg, the founder of the Right to Read project, monitored the reading scores of a fifth grader named Clark and found they improved with extra help. However, Clark’s teacher lacked the resources to offer the additional systematic instruction needed for Clark to read proficiently.

The phonics program Clark’s teacher was given included “loose mini-lessons, practice with leveled books, and reading aloud,” which wasn’t enough to help Clark read comfortably. In contrast, Clark’s first-grade teacher had incorporated explicit phonics instruction, one-on-one help, and practice with decodables. With extra practice and science-backed reading lessons, Clark’s reading improved. Unfortunately, not all the teachers in his school had the resources to provide this.

The Solution 

Stories like Clark’s are why the money from the lawsuit didn’t go to the plaintiffs. The 53 million dollar settlement went directly to the 75 lowest performing schools in the state to rework early reading education programs and professional development. Each school developed a unique plan for improving literacy rates and reading assessment scores.

These plans were generally structured in these steps: 

  1. Screen for struggling readers early
  2. Look at the data to learn where improvements need to be made
  3. Disaggregate the data so you can see what’s working for each student
  4. Carry out a curriculum audit to find areas for improvement
  5. Come up with an action plan
  6. Explain to others what you are doing and why

The plans also focused on providing science-backed reading tools such as a phonics scope and sequence, explicit lesson plans, and teacher training on implementing these lesson plans.

Just Right Reader’s decodables align to all phonics programs, making it easy for districts to add supplemental phonics into their core curriculum! Teacher resources, including robust lesson plans, quick start guides, and curriculum alignment charts, make this transition as smooth as possible. Each decodable follows a rigorous phonics progression backed by the latest Science of Reading research, helping students as they progress from phonemic awareness to reading multisyllabic words. 

Are you interested in adding our Science of Reading decodables into your school’s reading programs? Email us at or purchase our Science of Reading decodables here!

Contact your dedicated Account Manager:

Julianne DeMartino
Business Development

Learn More About Just Right Reader

Request Sample Materials

The K-12 Guide To Multi-Layered Cybersecurity

Putting together a cybersecurity strategy is a lot like growing onions. If it doesn’t have layers, you’re probably doing it wrong.

Of course, we’re talking about multi-layered cybersecurity. With more school districts taking a renewed interest in data protection, many are looking high and low for new ways to keep student privacy safe. Luckily, that’s exactly what a layered approach to cybersecurity is all about.

In this blog, we’ll explain the basics of multi-layered protection and why your school district stands to gain from an additional layer of cloud security.


A multi-layered cybersecurity strategy uses multiple layers of defense to protect sensitive data from potential threats, such as malware, ransomware, or a phishing attack.

Each layer provides a different level of protection, fulfilling its own specific data security function. These multiple layers work in combination to create a comprehensive and effective cybersecurity posture.

By taking a layered approach, you can protect the entire attack surface from unauthorized access or exposure. In simpler terms, it allows you to cover all the bases simultaneously.


If you want to understand the value of multi-layered threat protection, it’s best to put it into context.

According to Forbes, a traditional security strategy generally involves designing a defensive perimeter around your most sensitive data. Preventative tactics like this are crucial to safeguarding assets from conventional attack vectors, but tend not to account for internal threats like an accidental leak.

A layered approach works more proactively. It implements various types of data security controls at different levels of your IT infrastructure. For example, multi-layered cybersecurity could include firewalls, data loss prevention tools, endpoint security, or access controls. Because each layer is designed to detect and prevent different types of threats, they work together to create a holistic security framework.

Notably, this multi-layered approach is similar to “defense in depth,” a strategy that also uses multiple layers of controls to mitigate cyber threats. However, a defense-in-depth strategy typically focuses security operations on a single layer of the infrastructure (e.g., the device or network), whereas multi-layered security focuses on the entire technology stack.

Contact your dedicated Account Manager:

David Waugh
Sales and Marketing Vice President

Learn More About ManagedMethods

Boost School Operations and Save Money: 10 Strategies

As the cost of education continues to increase, those tasked with paying for educational costs have continued to feel the strain. Cutting costs without hurting the quality of the educational services may feel impossible given the importance of providing the best possible educational experience for students.

But there are areas where schools and districts can improve efficiency in spending and take steps to reduce costs and maximize the effectiveness of each dollar spent without sacrificing the quality of education. Of course, developing creative money-saving ideas in budgeting and teaching methodologies can save some cash, but they can only extend so far.

How can schools save money?

Money-saving strategies go hand-in-hand with schools just as much as pencils, blackboards, and desks. There are any number of areas where school funding can be wasted, and it takes organization and discipline to help school districts save money. Energy costs, supplies, facility maintenance, transportation, food service, and employee salaries are just a few areas where  schools must devote a constant flow of cash.

Learning where and how schools can save money is a good first step, but implementing cost-saving measures can be a major challenge. School operations teams struggle across the board. Equipping your organization with the right mindset, tools, and resources to enact a savings plan is often the difference between a successful, optimized savings plan and a frustrating experience.

These 10 strategies for cutting costs allow you to ensure your school budget is under control and costs are kept low without sacrificing your school operations quality.


Contact your dedicated Account Manager:

Matt Hibbard
Enterprise Account Executive, EDU

Billy Doolittle
Government Account Executive II