It’s Autumn, and school is back in session all across the country. Though the pandemic stubbornly lingers, it feels like we’re emerging into the daylight even as the nights get longer. Thank you to our many partners and collaborators for helping to keep us motivated. Your ongoing commitment to our shared mission and interests has been inspirational, and our work simply wouldn’t be possible without your effort. We want to especially acknowledge the 2021 NROC Ambassadors whom we recognized in a virtual award ceremony over the summer.
If anything, the pandemic has heightened the need for all educational institutions to reorganize their policies and procedures to focus squarely on facilitating student success. Most of our existing institutional partners took advantage of the EdReady platform and other NROC resources that they already had in place to expand the number of students served. From single-sign-on to data exports, customized in-app messaging to outreach and recruitment strategies, our staff, led by our dedicated implementation team, have seen a surge in member and partner requests for assistance and responded in kind. We’ve now surpassed a major milestone: over one million students have actively engaged with the EdReady platform, and the usage statistics continue to rise.
NROC is having a substantial, positive impact on student readiness and success in critical math and English skills all across the country, and our mission is to bring those same benefits to as many students as possible.
In the face of this increased demand, and additional opportunities borne of the pandemic, we pushed ourselves to resolve a number of strategic priorities that we believe put us in a strong position to sustain our existing relationships and launch new engagements. These commitments reflect the fact that NROC is having a substantial, positive impact on student readiness and success in critical math and English skills all across the country, and our mission is to bring those same benefits to as many students as possible.
The EdReady platform, as a learning application, requires that we register students and staff and track their activities. All educational records are considered protected personal information (PPI) and are subject to strict state and federal rules regarding privacy, access, and protection from unauthorized use. We have always had strong technical and procedural controls to maintain application security, but we marshalled additional resources to further improve our security posture and to obtain System and Organization Controls (SOC 2 Type II) security certification with AICPA, a cybersecurity risk management authority. In plain language, this certification means that we take good care of your data. We must be recertified every year and will be maintaining our security status in perpetuity.
In plain language, the SOC 2 Type II certification means that we take good care of your data. We must be recertified every year and will be maintaining our security status in perpetuity.
While strong security and privacy controls benefit everyone, they are particularly critical for us to be able to support large-scale initiatives, such as Texas College Bridge and Ivy Tech’s EdReady-based readiness initiatives, and we anticipate being able to launch and support more such initiatives in this coming year.
EdReady is designed to provide students with readiness pathways that support each student’s personal needs and preferences.
Our attention to universal design and usability includes a commitment to full accessibility for the full range of student abilities and disabilities.
After several years of investing in screen-reader compatibility, multiple representations, alt-text support, keyboard navigation, and a raft of other improvements (some of which we had to invent and share with the broader accessibility community), we're proud to say that we were recently certified for adhering to the AA conformance level of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1). This certification means that students and educators should encounter no barriers to using EdReady in whatever manner they would typically employ to engage with cloud-based software. Supporting technologies continue to evolve, as does EdReady, so we'll continue to make these investments and maintain our certification and remain 100% committed to collaboratively addressing any accessibility issues as they might arise.
The NROC course materials were built with equity and representation as core concerns. The additional collections hosted by the EdReady platform expand on that commitment by diversifying the bases for learning any of the integrated concepts. Beyond application security, performance, and accessibility, the bulk of our ongoing platform enhancements have focused on providing even more tools for teachers and administrators to effectively support the different needs of their diverse populations. As our partners broaden and deepen their EdReady implementations, we're hoping that these expanded toolsets and capabilities will enable strong connections to student interests, programs of study, and other drivers for student success.
We are actively working with partners who center educational equity as a priority and serve marginalized communities.
In tandem with those improvements, we're actively working with partners who center educational equity as a priority and serve marginalized communities. For example, we have a formal partnership with UPchieve, a nonprofit organization with a mission of democratizing access to academic support. Currently, we’re developing a way to activate access to UPchieve from within the EdReady platform, making it possible for students to obtain virtual, anonymous, real-time support from vetted math tutors. If you’re interested in joining the waiting list to activate UPchieve within EdReady, sign up.
We’re collaborating with other equity-minded partners as well, and we’ll report on additional integrated services and supports as those come to fruition.
It’s well known that students from traditionally underserved populations often lack the credentials to matriculate into credit-bearing, postsecondary coursework without delay. We’re excited that more of our partners, such as the Maricopa Community College District and the entire North Carolina Community College System are using EdReady to give students from all backgrounds more opportunities to improve their readiness and start their postsecondary careers poised for success. We continue to work with all of our institutional partners—big and small—to document the benefits of our work for students, families, and educators, and we encourage you to reach out if you have stories to share.
We hear your suggestions for improvement and requests for new features and we are constantly working to make EdReady as user-friendly and effective as an adaptive-learning application can be. We are expecting to release some improvements soon that will include new alerts, more math-learning options, and improved tools for managing year-over-year cohort turnover. We continue to seek funding and partnerships for further enhancements and will report on these and other updates in future WHY (We Heard You) communications.
We are expecting to release some EdReady improvements soon that will include new alerts, more math-learning options, and improved tools for managing year-over-year cohort turnover.
Beyond technology enhancements, we are getting organized to tackle more challenges in teacher professional development, career readiness, and other areas of potential impact. We know that we could be having an even greater impact with broader content coverage and expanded target audiences, and we're actively pursuing whatever opportunities arise to put those enhancements into the hands of our community.
We hope that this pandemic will subside and that all of you are able to stay safe and healthy. Most of all, we hope we have opportunities to connect directly in the months ahead, whether in person or virtually, and that we can motivate each other to keep progressing on fulfilling our mission and improving the lives of the students we collectively serve.
Up with students!