Chalk: A Data-Driven Approach to Improving K-12 Education
A DIFFICULT QUESTION
Teachers and school boards from Kindergarten to Grade 12 have a major responsibility. Tasked with educating and inspiring the next generations to come, teachers and school boards are given an enormous amount of responsibilities. One of those responsibilities is measuring how curriculums affect their student’s learning. So, how do teachers measure the effectiveness of their student curriculums?
The truth is, it’s a difficult question to answer.
Today, schools lack a deep understanding of why their students are performing the way they do. Teachers and school boards have to use their intuition to provide an answer leaving major gaps in identifying any underlying or systemic issues. A question like, “Why did Grade 7 English scores go down?” becomes difficult to resolve because there are so many details that could affect the answer. Without accurate answers, teachers and school districts are unable to educate to the best of their ability leaving students with a sub-par approach to learning. So, how do teachers find these answers?
By using data.
A DATA-DRIVEN APPROACH
Founded by William Zhou in 2014, Chalk has grown to become a 21 person start-up with headquarters in Kitchener, Ontario.
Seeing the lack of analytics available for teachers to use, Chalk wants to create a more data-driven K-12 education, focusing on providing teachers with better academic strategies to influence the next generation of students.
Chalk looks to improve the education system for students and teachers worldwide. With school districts in the United States, South Korea, UK, and Japan using the platform, Chalk is already on its way to achieving this huge goal.
HOW CHALK WORKS
At its core, Chalk is a curriculum planning and analytics platform helping school districts and teachers understand their curriculum’s effectiveness. On a day-to-day basis, however, Chalk provides multiple productivity tools for teachers, simplifying a majority of academic processes labeling it as a “one-stop-shop”.
Some of these productivity tools allow teachers to:
- Plan their daily and future lessons
- Map out curriculums
- Ensure that all the teaching material is covered during their lesson
- Store all resources in one location
- Monitor / analyze in-class and historical data
- Collaborate with other teachers through public sharing and feedback features
While teachers go about their day-to-day lessons, Chalk gathers data about what’s truly happening in the classroom. Chalk then takes all that data (mixed with historical data from the district) and creates a complete picture of how well students are doing comparing that data to the school districts.
This data is what makes Chalk special and unique compared to other competitors. It gives the school’s administration and teachers an understanding of what’s happening in the classroom to help drive more informed decision making.
With this data, teachers can recognize surprising insights such as:
- How the curriculum affects lesson planning
- How lesson plans affect student scores
- How parent/teacher engagement affects student outcomes
Both school districts and teachers can truly examine just how effective their curriculum is performing. With this valuable information, they can find ways to improve and create a stronger curriculum.
With Chalk, teachers provide an enhanced educational experience for their students using data.
CHANGING AND INCREASING DEMANDS
The popularity among teachers and school boards using the platform has increased since Chalk was first founded in 2014. With school boards using the SaaS worldwide, Chalk has to ensure it can effectively manage the fluctuation of traffic to its platform.
Right now, Chalk’s platform is managed manually.
With back to school seasons varying worldwide, having to manually manage the platform is costly. During peak season, there are many more users meaning slowdowns and lags if not scaled to meet the rise in demand, but during off-seasons, the platform decreases, forcing a scale down to avoid unnecessary networking costs.
With the rise and fall of users, manually scaling takes a lot of time and resources. As more customers begin to use Chalk, the problem only gets worse.
AN AUTO-SCALING SOLUTION
Chalk has been developing an intelligent auto-scaling solution for its platform to manage and respond to these fluctuating traffic needs. With auto-scaling in place, it will decrease the stress on Chalk’s platform. In turn, this will decrease the monthly spending on their network by about $10,000 during slow seasons and remove the slowdowns caused by more users during peak seasons.
Before implementing the auto-scaling fix though, Chalk has come to CENGN to do some testing.
TESTING CHALK’S AUTO-SCALING FUNCTIONALITY
Chalk will be using CENGN’s testbed to test 2 different details.
First, the CENGN Cloud Project will test Chalk’s new auto-scaling solution to validate that it functions properly. As a result of this testing, Chalk will gain the metrics required to trigger the auto-scaling.
The project will also stress test the Chalk platform by simulating expected future demand. This will measure the ability of Chalk to handle the influx of new customers on their platform.
CONTINUING CHALK’S MISSION
CENGN is looking forward to assisting Chalk continue on its mission of helping school boards and teachers provide a more “data-driven” approach to education for the next generation of students to come.
Chalk is a growing Canadian business that is using the services at CENGN through the Next Generation Network Program (NGNP). The NGNP is a Government of Ontario program offered through a partnership between CENGN and the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) that is providing small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across Ontario access to the CENGN Testbed. CENGN’s digital infrastructure is connecting SMEs like Chalk to state-of-the-art equipment and network services, which will allow these companies to test and validate their solutions.
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