Author: Emily-Rose Barry, Director of Product at Branching Minds
What a year it has been! In many ways, we started 2022 still shaking off the worn coat of COVID restrictions, re-claiming our educational spaces, and making sense of the past few years' experiences. Many words have already been expended lamenting all the ways we may have “fallen behind,” but to me, this year was an opportunity to experiment with new ways of thinking about the intersections of learning, technology, and student engagement. Human beings are nothing if not resilient, and the greatest sparks of creativity are born of necessity and confinement.
On a personal note, the beginning of 2022 was also the beginning of my adventure at Branching Minds, which has proven to be a delight on a daily basis—not only because of the profound impact I’ve witnessed through the growth of our product and company, but also because of the consistent warmth and dedication I’ve received from my colleagues, and the eye-opening conversations I’ve had with so many of our district partners.
But enough sentimentality. In software development, we love a retrospective. So let’s review some of the goodies we delivered to the Branching Minds platform this year!
As the bitter winds of winter set in, we warmed the hearts of MTSS teams everywhere when we added color-coded Rate of Improvement (ROI) indicators to progress monitoring plans. Green means “great!” Red means “wait!” Making data review easy is our sweet spot, so we released this feature just in time for Valentine’s Day.
Data ingestion improvements were top of mind heading into that final EOY assessment screening window. We made some tweaks to enhance the speed and accuracy of this work and keep up with some updates from our assessment provider partners. We also gave users the ability to access deleted groups so they could be restored and renewed—a springtime vibe, indeed.
June came in hot with a special report for our partners in Texas, who were hard at work getting meetings and intervention plans in place to support students in accordance with the requirements of House Bill 4545. We focused on providing the ability to see ALC meeting completion and STAAR scores together, with the hopes that our good friends “MTSS” and “Compliance” would hit it off and start a summer fling.
We spent the rest of our summer prepping our platform for the new school year:
added the Audioeye application to our platform, majorly improving the site experience for accessibility.
Back to school brought us back to our roots! We made improvements to the bulk tiering experience to make those first BOY screening window tiering actions easier. Our Cohort Assessment Report also got attention, adding growth percentiles for Fastbridge data visualization and updating performance levels, so they match what assessment providers present.
With the addition of Random Acts of Kindness to our intervention library, we added a new set of free, evidence-based SEL supports to our repertoire.
After a few months of learning from our partners in Texas, we gave the Texas HB4545 Report a massive upgrade, showing data from all the relevant STAAR tests and adding intervention tracking for all subjects.
If only I had a crystal ball…Oh wait, I do! I’m itching to share some of the opportunities we see on our roadmap for 2023. But as we round out the holiday season and put the finishing touches on our future plans, it’s important to honor our present moment and invite our valued district partners to share their thoughts.
Tell me: If you could have just one gift—a shiny new feature, a flawless new experience—in the Branching Minds platform next year, what would it be?
I look forward to sharing more about what lies ahead in the New Year. In the meantime, allow me to extend my warmest wishes to you and your loved ones this holiday season and to thank you sincerely—both for your important role in improving students' lives and your valuable ongoing partnership with Branching Minds.
The Branching Minds Web Platform Enables Educators and Administrators To:
Identify students in need of learning support in your school or district
Collaborate on surveys to determine the root of each student’s challenges
Find the best evidence-based interventions for each learner
Streamline documentation and quickly understand student progress
Ms. Barry is Director of Product for Branching Minds. She has worked in Education Technology in roles overseeing Product and Customer Success for the past ten years. Before joining the world of agile software development, she taught reading and writing at every level from early childhood to college, administered special programs for an adult literacy nonprofit, and published short fiction and poetry as a freelance writer. She is a co-founder of ProductTank Buffalo, a local community for networking and professional development.