Frequently Asked Questions

The Student-Centered Education (SCE) and NextGen questions listed below have been asked repeatedly.  Answers are presented when you click on the question.  Please Contact Us if you have questions that do not appear on these lists.

Frequently Asked SCE Questions

Is there research that support the requirements for Student-Centered Education?

Students have diverse backgrounds, a variety of achievement levels, and different learning styles which affect their ability to learn or acquire knowledge. While the Washington public school system has invested in improving its schools, dropout rates and college and workplace readiness have not dramatically improved. Government, educators, business leaders, and the public have expressed concern that our young people are not being adequately prepared to effectively compete in the global 21st century community.

Education reform movements suggest that schools might need to move away from traditional pedagogy, and apply practices that empower students to develop important content knowledge and lifelong skills.

One research-based alternative approach to education is known as constructivism, where children build their own understanding through real-world applications and interactions with their peers in group activities. “To be productive contributors to society in our 21st century, you need to be able to quickly learn the core content of a field of knowledge while also mastering a broad portfolio of essentials in learning, innovation, technology, and careers skills needed for work and life” (Trilling & Fadel, 2009, p16). Teachers need to support students as they prepare for jobs that have not yet been created, for new products that have not yet been invented, and for new skills to build creativity and innovation.

“… the only possible adjustment which we can give to the child under existing conditions, is that which arises through putting him in complete possession of all his powers. With the advent of democracy and modern industrial conditions, it is impossible to foretell definitely just what civilization will be twenty years from now. Hence it is impossible to prepare the child for any precise set of conditions. To prepare him for the future life means to give him command of himself; it means to so train him that he will have the full and ready use of all his capacities; that his eye and ear and hand may be tools ready to command, that his judgment may be capable of grasping the conditions under which it has to work, and the executive forces be trained to act economically and efficiently. It is impossible to reach this sort of adjustment save as constant regard is had to the individual’s own powers, tastes, and interests—say, that is, as education is continually converted into psychological terms.”

John Dewey, PhD – My Pedagogic Creed, January, 1887

The challenges our society face now as we strive to reform our education systems to meet tomorrow’s realities are much the same as they were over a century ago.

Gallup research strongly suggests [Brandon Busteed, The Gallup Blog, January 7, 2013, The School Cliff: Student Engagement Drops With Each School Year.] that, today, the longer students stay in traditional school, the less engaged they become.

 They found that nearly eight in 10 elementary students who participated in the poll are engaged with school. By middle school that falls to about six in 10 students. And by high school, only four in 10 students qualify as engaged.

Proponents of 21st century learning advocate an expanded set of educational goals, as in the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (p. 21) learning framework: The Partnership for 21st Century Skills is “a national organization that advocates for the integration of skills such as critical thinking, problem solving and communication into the teaching of core academic subjects such as English, reading or language arts, world languages, arts, mathematics, economics, science, geography, history, government, and civics” (2009, p. 9). 

What are the effects of poverty on student learning?

Poverty, which forms a specific culture and way of life, is a growing issue in the United States. The number of Americans living in poverty is continually increasing. Poverty indicates the extent to which an individual does without resources. Resources can include financial, emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical resources as sell as support systems, relationships, role models, and knowledge of hidden rules. Poverty directly affects academic achievement due to the lack of resources available for student success. Low achievement is closely correlated with lack of resources, and numerous studies have documented the correlation between low socioeconomic status and low achievement. Several strategies exist to assist teachers in closing the poverty achievement gap for students.”

Misty Lacour and Laura D. Tissington, 12 May, 2011

The body of knowledge related to the effects of poverty on student learning is extensive. The scope of these effects is dramatic to the student and to the community. Robert Hughes, a member of the Washington State Board of Education, has studied school district performance data, published by OSPI, to look for symptoms of poverty effects on student performance. In his data analysis, Mr. Hughes observed the correlation between the level of free and reduced meal qualified students, and the documented standardized test results. An example of this correlation, graphically depicted, is included below. It is important to note that this example does not represent commentary on school performance in any particular subject, it simply represents data published in 2012 for ESD 121. The slope of the performance line is sympathetic of the negative performance effects of increased percentages of students who qualify for free and reduced lunch programs. The negative slope of the line is repeated for every Washington State ESD.

Researchers Hart and Risley1 found that, during the first four years of life, the average child in a professional family would have accumulated experience with almost 45 million words, and average child in a working-class family would have accumulated experience with 26 million words and an average child in a welfare family would have accumulated experience with 13 million words.

Importantly, in this study, Hart and Risley found that during the first four years of life, the average child in a professional family would have accumulated 560,000 more instances of encouraging feedback than discouraging feedback, and an average child in a working-class family would have accumulated 100,000 more encouragements than discouragements, but the average child in a welfare family would have accumulated 125,000 more instances of prohibitions than encouragements.

While public school systems have little short-term control over the cause of poverty, there are pedagogical and organizational actions that educators can take to mitigate the effect of poverty on their students. Some of these actions are discussed below. child in a professional family would have accumulated experience with almost 45 million words, and average child in a working-class family would have accumulated experience with 26 million words and an average child in a welfare family would have accumulated experience with 13 million words.

Importantly, in this study, Hart and Risley found that during the first four years of life, the average child in a professional family would have accumulated 560,000 more instances of encouraging feedback than discouraging feedback, and an average child in a working-class family would have accumulated 100,000 more encouragements than discouragements, but the average child in a welfare family would have accumulated 125,000 more instances of prohibitions than encouragements.

While public school systems have little short-term control over the cause of poverty, there are pedagogical and organizational actions that educators can take to mitigate the effect of poverty on their students. Some of these actions are discussed below.

  1. Provide an emotionally and physically safe and encouraging school environment. If students are to take risks in their learning, they need an environment where they can feel supported as they attempt to learn new skills and gain new knowledge.
  2. Mitigate apparent economic differences. Engaging very young students, beginning at age 3 ½, in a pre-k environment where they are in constant positive and supportive conversations with adults who speak at a college level. Frequently immerse students, starting in pre-k, in sensory rich real-world environments to assure all students, but especially students from working-class and low income families have rich and constructive learning experiences. Studies have shown2 that the earlier a child starts school, the greater the positive effect on reading will be. An intensive implicit vocabulary construction element of the English language arts program will support the narrowing of the vocabulary gap between students from affluent families and students from disadvantaged families. School uniforms, when consistently worn, eliminate many social and emotional issues commonly encountered in schools where they are not required.
  1. Assure significant and continuous opportunities for students to communicate at high levels with articulate adults.
  2. Provide extensive exposure to sensory and content rich real-world learning environments. Meaningful, integrated instruction allows students to see the real world applications of their knowledge and skills. Offering students the opportunity to make choices and to collaborate within the learning environment. Students should use reading, writing, and math to research, analyze and share their learning with others. Beginning in pre-kindergarten, students should make choices and plan their activities. Aligning pre-kindergarten with a comprehensive educational model can reduce differences for English Language Learners as they enter school. By experiencing real-world applications, students understand how academic learning applies in life. Student-centered schools incorporate an extensive system of field studies (Being-There Experiences) aligned with specific learning objectives. By connecting meaningful learning to community locations and events, students apply knowledge and skills in the broadest possible context, and benefit from the expertise of community members.
  1. Provide remedial health services in the form of food supplements and medical/dental services. School resources provided to support effective connections between families in need and social services to mediate immediate family needs.

1Netty Hart and Todd R. Risley, The 30 Million Word Gap by Age 3

2E.D. Hirsch, The Knowledge Deficit, p. 88

Frequently Asked NextGen Questions

What computer and communication systems are required in my school for it to use NextGen?

Each classroom, the principal’s office, and the support services administrator’s desk should be equipped with a computer system that is configured to reliably connect to the Internet, and have access to printing devices.

If teachers are equipped with a mobil device like a tablet computer, the classroom needs to be reliably serviced by a Wifi network.

Are all of our teacher required to have tablet computers for them to use NextGen?

No. Tablet computers may be used by teachers when they take attendance, manage student checkout activities, record anecdotal notes and images of student work, create digital images to be retained in student portfolios, and write incident reports. While these activities can be completed using a desktop computer, tablet computers might increase teacher productivity.

Can information from the NextGen database be extracted for use in other applications?

Yes. A subscriber may define the specific information extract requirements for NextGen software consultants who will provide a budgetary quote for programming services required to extract the information for a single instance or on a recurring basis.

How often are new NextGen versions published?

One major software version release will be made each summer to include all enhancements, revisions, and error corrections made during the prior year. On rare occasions a maintenance revision may be necessary to correct software errors found during production operations.

How do I suggest enhancements to the NextGen service offerings?

Any subscriber may make NextGen service enhancement suggestions. The first step in this process is to describe your suggestion to the NextGen support team selecting the NEXTGEN HELP > CONTACT menu option and including your suggestion in the message form. An NextGen product manager will respond to your suggestions and submit them to the product management review team for evaluation.

Where is the NextGen subscription agreement?

There is no required NextGen subscription agreement. Like other utilities, NextGen is an information service utility. A subscriber may continue to use NextGen as long as the monthly subscription fee of $2.00 per student is paid for services one month in advance.

How much information about a student is required to use NextGen?

While NextGen can retain a comprehensive list of data elements for individual students, the minimum data elements are:

Student:

  • First name
  • Last name
  • Birth date 
  • Street address
  • City
  • State
  • Zip code
  • Passcode

Parent:

  • First name
  • Primary Phone
  • Street address
  • City
  • State
  • Zip code
  • Email (optional)
  • Relationship to student
What is the initialization process for a school just beginning to use NextGen?

After a NextGen service instance is deployed by the NextGen service provider, the subscriber should complete following procedures in sequence to adapt NextGen to the subscriber’s school environment:

  • Login as an Administrator using the User Name and Password provided by NextGen Education Services.
  • Define or confirm the Campus Information by selecting the NextGen Configuration > Campus Information menu option and enter the required information.
  • Define the school’s classrooms / homerooms by selecting the NextGen Configuration > Homerooms menu option and enter the required information.
  • Add administrator information for all subscriber personnel authorized to access and update all NextGen information elements by selecting the Security > Add Administrator menu option and enter the required information.
  • Add teacher information for all subscriber personnel authorized to access and update all student related information by selecting the Security > Add Teacher menu option and enter the required information. In this process teachers are assigned to their “homeroom”.
  • Update the school’s classroom / homeroom configuration by selecting the NextGen Configuration > Homerooms menu option and select the teacher(s) assigned to use the selected room.
  • Specify the school’s grade levels by selecting the NextGen Configuration > Grade Levels menu option and select the teacher(s) assigned to each grade level.
  • Define or confirm the Attendance Codes by selecting the NextGen Configuration > Attendance Codes menu option and enter the required information.
  • If NextGen Education Services has not imported basic or comprehensive student information, enter student information. The entry of parent/guardian information during this step will make it possible to enable parents to access on-line student information and receive email messages regarding their student(s). This process is initiated by selecting the Student Information > Add Student menu option.
  • Define or confirm the content of email messages automatically produced by NextGen by selecting the NextGen Configuration > Email Messages menu option.
  • Update the school’s classroom and/or class configurations to assign students to classes by selecting the NextGen Configuration > Homerooms menu option and edit each classroom and select the students assigned to the classroom.
  • Assign students to grade levels, by selecting the NextGen Configuration > Grade Levels menu option.
  • Define the school’s assessment codes and associated color codes by selecting the NextGen Configuration > Assessment Codes menu option.
  • Create user accounts and passwords for all administrators and teachers by selecting the Security > Create User Account menu option.
  • Edit the schools standards provided with the NextGen service to meet the school’s requirements. This process is initiated by selecting the Curricula Definitions > Standards & Assessments menu option.
  • Establish the scope and sequence of instruction to meet the school’s requirements. This process is initiated by selecting the Curricula Definitions > Scope & Sequence menu option.

Teachers and administrators may now explore NextGen functions and begin to use it on a daily basis. As a second level of implementation, administrators and teachers may confirm or revise the intervention categories and intervention types for the response to intervention model. These refinements may be initiated by selecting the appropriate NextGen Configuration menu options.

How does my team learn to use NextGen?

NextGen is an Internet software service that operates with in a browser, much like all other Internet-based applications. Teachers normally learn to use NextGen on their own as long as they are able to ask questions of experienced users or NextGen support persons. NextGen email support is available 7/24 with out a fee. An on-site professional development program is available for $500 per day, plus travel expenses.