Recently, our district made the decision to reexamine the tools we used as essential components of reading instruction. What follows is a list of five aspects of instructional technology that informed our decision, as well as a few lessons learned along the way:
1 The company you keep. You can learn a lot about software companies from their customers. Find out how many current customers they have and what their renewal rate is.
2 Don’t forget about implementation services. Choose a company with a good track record of helping you train and support teachers.
3 Proven approach, proven results. You’re going to have to stand behind your purchasing decision. Make sure you’ve got evidence that the program is effective. Look at companies with long, successful histories of improving students’ reading and literacy skills.
4 Does your program play nice with others? Focus on instructional and assessment tools that easily correlate to other popular assessments, textbook programs, and technology programs. Better yet, look for programs that are SIF certified.
5 Don’t let technology sit on the sidelines. Regardless of the mix of resources at your disposal, be sure that technology plays an integral part in creating an environment that is student-centric.
6 Web-based for convenience and ease of use. We’ve found that using a Web-based program has given us significant flexibility in how we maximize our investment. Look for software that offers concurrent seat licenses. With careful, creative scheduling, we can accommodate all our students with a limited number of licenses.
—Paul Reagan is the bilingual coordinator for Tulare City School District, Tulare, CA. His district uses Lexia Reading.