Washington Education Innovation Forum presents Silicon Valley Startups

Washington Education Innovation Forum presents Silicon Valley Startups

Thursday, February 14, 2013
UW Medicine South Lake Union

On February 14th 2013, the Washington Education Innovation Forum featured Goalbook founder Daniel Jhin Yoo and ClassDojo founder Sam Chaudhary, two Silicon Valley startups that provide classroom tools and innovative technology to teachers, parents, and administrators. Yoo and Chaudhary discussed the development process of their tools, challenges in special education and behavior management, and application of their tools for Common Core Standards.

Goalbook provides individualized education program summaries and real-time student data for special education. It was founded in 2011 with support from the New Schools Venture Fund to address the shortage of tools available for driving better outcomes.

With 20% of public education funding allocated for special education, and 814 Federal requirements that districts must report on, Yoo found that almost none of the requirements were based on student outcomes. He noted that a majority of special education students in Washington State have a similar level of intelligence but lower academic performance than their standard education peers. Moreover, he saw that although many enter the positions knowing that they will be challenging, special education teachers have the highest rate of turnover among all teachers.

Yoo sees the implementation of Common Core Standards as an opportunity to improve special education. Whereas in the past states have bucketed students into alternate assessments, now all students will be accountable to the same rigorous standards. He anticipates many schools making improvements to how they work with their special education students in light of this shift.

To meet this need, Goalbook provides a professional learning tool for teachers, specifically those involved in special education. Each common core standard can be expanded into a mild, moderate, or intense level of support needed for students with disabilities. Teachers can easily browse and search through goals, learn on the job, and feel equipped to handle the new standards.

Sam Chaudhary began ClassDojo by talking with teachers, parents, and students about what their biggest education barriers were. Although the issues spanned across several themes, they were all rooted in poor behavior. Behavior management has been the most difficult problem for new teachers, and one which has no standard tools beyond punishment. At 53%, poor behavior leads as the primary cause for teachers quitting. Further, 40% of teachers in the U.S. claim they spend more than half their time managing behavior.

ClassDojo allows teachers to improve classroom behavior by capturing and sharing data. Through a rewards based game, real-time positive feedback allows teachers to reinforce and build positive behavior rather than punishing bad behavior. Students become aware of what is valued in that classroom, and the classroom culture begins to change.

When used in a classroom and without any additional work for the teacher, all data is automatically logged and categorized to show a student’s progress over any given time period. This data can then be shared with students, parents, and schools systems. It is currently being used by 8,000,000 teachers and students across the globe.

Chaudhary explained that ClassDojo works to address persistence, self-control, optimism, gratitude, and the many traits that go beyond content knowledge and into character development. “When you build these character improvements, it improves health outcomes, substance abuse rates, teenage pregnancy rates, graduation rates, SAT scores, and college attendance.”

Follow us on Twitter @crpe_uw. The Washington Education Innovation Forum hashtag is #innovateWAed.

The Washington Education Innovation Forum is hosted by the University of Washington's Center on Reinventing Public Education, with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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