Here at eSpark, we always lean toward full transparency, and we don’t see any reason why our adaptive logic needs to be kept under lock and key. In fact, we think empowering teachers with the knowledge of what’s happening on the back end can go a long way toward supporting your instructional objectives.
The Starting Point
Students are placed into a lesson sequence using one of three potential diagnoses:
Imported NWEA MAP Growth scores (available with a Premium membership)
Imported Renaissance Star scores (available with a Premium membership)
An eSpark placement quiz in the absence of benchmark data
If test data is imported in the middle of the year or any time after a student has started working in eSpark, they will finish the Quest they are on before embarking on their updated pathway.
All diagnoses are domain-specific, meaning a student might be placed in 2nd grade for Number and Operations in Base Ten, 3rd grade for Operations and Algebraic Thinking, and 1st grade for Geometry. Student pathways will take them through all prior-grade placements before they start working on any domains where they have placed at or above grade level.
Note: Goal overrides are not domain-specific—if a teacher manually bumps a student up or down to a new grade level, the student will essentially “reset” for that subject and work through all content at that grade level before moving up.
Within a Quest
An eSpark Quest is a self-contained unit aligned to skills or standards within a specific domain (e.g. RL.1.1 in CCSS nomenclature). These Quests use simple adaptive logic in two ways:
Students can “test out” of a Quest by scoring 100% on the pre-quiz. In that scenario, they have the option to go through the activities or skip ahead to content they haven’t yet mastered. The pre-quiz is important because it’s entirely possible that students have mastered new skills outside of eSpark since the last time they were assessed on something, and there is nothing worse for student growth and engagement than wasted or redundant instructional time.
If a student fails the post-quiz (<80%), they are asked to rewatch the first instructional video from that Quest and given a second chance at the post-quiz. The result of that second attempt determines whether they pass or fail the Quest.
Within a Mission
eSpark Missions are made up of 5-10 Quests comprising full grade-level domains (e.g. 1st Grade Language). These are purposefully sequenced by our Learning Design team so each Quest builds on prior knowledge toward the end goal of domain mastery.
When a student has completed all Quests in a Mission, they are given remediation opportunities for any Quests failed along the way. This ensures that every Quest is passed once or failed twice. If students fail a Quest twice, they will not encounter that Quest again—at that point we recommend that teachers step in to support struggling students directly (and remember, any of these individual skills can be reinforced with Small Group Skills lessons).
If, at any point after the first Quest in a Mission, the student fails more than half the Quests in a rolling period (e.g. Quests 2 and 3 or Quests 2, 4, and 6), we take that as a sign that they are not quite ready to tackle this content, the Mission ends, and they are moved one level down within that domain. They then embark on the Mission for the same domain at the new grade level. If there is no content for that domain in the lower grade level, they continue on their current Mission instead.
Students never drop more than two grade levels below their rostered grade (e.g. a 3rd grader will never see kindergarten content). This safeguard is in place to keep things engaging and age appropriate. The example we often use internally is that we don’t want 4th graders working on activities featuring Elmo, even if they do need to close those particular skill gaps.