ELA Priority Standard Response: NoRedInk

Grant Applicant
Krista Strecker, TTUSD District Office, Teacher on Special Assignment
School Site
Grant Category
Grant Date
Description (10 points)

"NoRedInk [is an online program that] helps students practice their grammar and writing skills. Students work with engaging and often humorous sentences that incorporate their favorite characters, musicians, athletes, books, movies, sports teams, and celebrities. 

NoRedInk provides adaptive, differentiated instruction. This means that the site adjusts questions in real time based on a student's needs. When learners get stuck, NoRedInk shows them tutorials that help them correct mistakes and keep going.

[The teacher] will be able to monitor progress on homework, quizzes, and practice exercises. NoRedInk covers a variety of topics, including punctuation, commonly confused words, adjectives and adverbs, and active and passive voice. Many of these topics are assessed as part of state and national standards. NoRedInk helps teachers make adjustments to their instruction to make sure [a student] is prepared.

[Parents/guardians] can track a student's progress, and can see his/her scores on different assignments by navigating the Results page. This page shows each assignment a student's teacher has created and how the learner performed. 

Students can also take charge of their own learning using the color-coded Practice page. This page shows students how close they are to mastering each topic on the site, and students can practice on their own on this page" (Crouthamel, 2017).

In TTUSD, NoRedInk will be used primarily in conjunction with writing assignments. In other words, students will not be learning grammar in isolation but rather in direct application with their own writing and revision practice. Before students can apply what they learn from NoRedInk to their writing, they need to have mastered the grammar rule. One advantage NoRedInk has over traditional grammar materials is that it is a “for mastery” program. Kids cannot move forward until they are able to demonstrate proficiency.

Additionally, this program helps address some of the priority language standards identified by the district-wide English PLC as critical to student success.   Below are two standards (offered as example) that were chosen by the 7th grade team as “priority standards.”

L 7.1: Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

  1. Explain the function of phrases and clauses in general and their function in specific sentences.

  2. Choose among simple, compound, complex, and compound-complex sentences to signal differing relationships among ideas.

  3. Place phrases and clauses within a sentence, recognizing and correcting misplaced and dangling modifiers.

L 7.2: Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.

  1. Use a comma to separate coordinate adjectives.

  2. Spell correctly.

As you can see, the extent to which the California Common Core Standards specify expected learning is detailed, with each of the subpoints changing and articulating as students progress through grade levels.  While this specificity can be helpful, without a program that responds to where students actually are (versus where they are supposed to be), the teaching of these skills can be extremely daunting for teachers.  Our learners’ skills and prior exposure is diverse and will benefit from individualized and differentiated support that a program like NoRedInk can provide.

Reference List:

Crouthamel, Jeremy. (2017). NoRedInk. Retrieved from http://bit.ly/2G0FQRa

Benefits of Program (10 points)

Within the Common Core (California State Standards), there are six standards, three of which are directly addressed through NoRedInk, that demand proficiency in language usage.  While these three standards are integral to our curriculum, they can be difficult to assess in isolation, especially for students with a wide range of exposure and proficiency in each.

Language Standards:

L1: Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

L2: Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.

L3: Use knowledge of language and its conventions when writing, speaking, reading, or listening.

(National Governors, 2010)

Further, the cornerstone of ELA curriculum is writing.  Six of ten California State Standards directly identify a need for a program like NoRedInk.

Writing Standards:

W1: Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence.

C. Use words, phrases, and clauses to create cohesion and clarify the relationships among claim(s), counterclaims, reasons, and evidence.

D. Establish and maintain formal style.

W2: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content.

C. Use appropriate and varied transitions to create cohesion and clarify the relationships among ideas and concepts.

D. Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to inform about or explain the topic.

E. Establish and maintain formal style.

W3: Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, relevant descriptive, details, and well-structured event sequences.

C. Use a variety of transition words, phrases, and clauses to convey sequence, signal shifts from one time frame or setting to another, and show the relationships among experiences and events.

D. Use precise words and phrases, relevant descriptive details, and sensory language to capture the action and convey experiences and events.

W4: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

W5: With some guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on how well purpose and audience have been addressed.

W10: Write routinely over extended time frames and shorter time frames.

(National Governors, 2010)

District-wide, the ELA team has been working to ensure effective instruction in every classroom and move toward establishing a guaranteed and viable curriculum. A large part of the work this year that has helped us to do this has been identifying priority standards and developing proficiency scales to address those standards. The language standard identified above are difficult to assess using proficiency scales outside of writing that contextualizes the skills.  This said, a formative tool to support students in developing proficiency in these skills would be invaluable particularly in the ways in which the learning done could be leveraged into assessable writing.  Further, using NoRedInk, “Teachers can track student progress on state and national standards and topics assessed by the SAT, and ACT” (NoRedInk, 2018).


NoRedInk has been a part of a number of studies assessing its impact on student achievement.  In partnership with WestEd, NoRedInk was run as a trial to assess its effectiveness as measured by NWEA MAP tests; “NWEA uses anonymous assessment data from over 10.2 million students to create national norms” (NWEA, 2018).  

The findings (available in full, here) of the NoRedInk trial were impressive: “Every 10 topics mastered on NoRedInk correlated to achieving 20% of expected annual growth on the MAP Language Usage test” (Matlen, Huang & Zhu, 2017). Further, “37% of students grew by 200% of expected annual growth or more” (Matlen, Huang, & Zhu, 2017).  Performance on the NWEA Map tests directly correlates to performance on SBAC exams.

While no product should be assumed to be a “silver bullet,” it is clear that adaptable technology allows students access to differentiated learning experiences that are specifically tailored, in real time, to their needs. Within the English departments at the middle and high school levels in TTUSD, there is no current adoption of any adaptive technology for students to use and benefit in this way. Immediate feedback, as Hattie (2009) describes it, encourages students to achieve and want to move to the next level; Hattie (2009) makes a connection between real-time feedback and video games--the learning becomes engrossing and engaging and the “player” aims to become more proficient.  Students are offered intervention and reteaching at their current level of need until they are able to demonstrate proficiency and advance in their learning.  These benchmarks of success also correlate directly to state and national standards as well as the SAT and ACT.  Teachers with access to this program can sort through “50+ learning paths spanning 500+ topics in grades 4-12” (NoRedInk, 2018) in order to specifically tailor instruction to prepare students for their tasks ahead (either in-class assessments or state and national assessments).

Currently, NoRedInk is used at North Tahoe High School by their English department.  This tool would be a valuable asset for every ELA teacher and student in an English course in TTUSD.  We are currently requesting funding for the program at North Tahoe School, and would like consideration of funding for both North Tahoe School and Alder Creek Middle School.  If this grant is offered to North Tahoe School, it will impact four teachers and roughly 440 students.  If this grant is offered to both middle schools, it will impact fifteen teachers and roughly 980 students.

Reference List:

Hattie, John. (2009). Visible learning: a synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. New York, NY: Routledge.

National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, Council of Chief State School Officers. (2010). California Common Core state standards. Washington DC: National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, Council of Chief State School Officers. Retrieved from http://bit.ly/2gA0bAH

(2018, January). NoRedInk Premium Features. Retrieved from http://bit.ly/2nPfKbS

Matlen, B., Huang, M., & Zhu, N. (2017). Correlation between NoRedInk performance and achievement on the MAP language usage assessment. Retrieved from http://bit.ly/2sitjFB

Success of Program (10 points)

District and site PLCs would need to meet pending approval of this grant to establish their SMART goals around criteria for success in their classrooms; however, case studies offer some insight about the potential outcomes of implementing this program:

A study by WestEd reports that "Results indicated that, after controlling for students’ demographic characteristics, baseline achievement, and the number of topics attempted on NoRedInk, mastery of NoRedInk topics (i.e., performance) was positively correlated with students’ MAP language scores. Specifically, every 10 topics mastered in NoRedInk corresponded to 20% of students’ expected annual language growth on average" (Matlen, Huang, & Zhu, 2017).  The MAP test through the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) directly correlates to results on the CAASPP developed by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.

The supporting links below provide additional research that indicates that this program significantly and positively impacts student learning and mastery of language standards. 

Currently, teachers at all schools are piloting new ELA curriculum.  At the middle school level, all but one teacher informally surveyed believe that there is a need for enhanced language instruction regardless of the program (StudySync, Pearson, or Springboard) adopted.  Programs in review focus on larger essential questions, skills facilitating evidence collection and synthesis, and rich-text exploration.  This said, the detail of language instruction is not yet explicit.  One program includes a supplemental grammar book and program, but this program does not offer the same value as an online program with adaptive technology to meet every student where he or she are at. Further, teachers who are using the premium program of NoRedInk at North Tahoe School communicate a universal increase in proficiency when students are using the program. Offering middle school students access to the same program they will use in high school creates continuity and imbedded vertical articulation. 

Implementation (10 points)

Teachers at both sites have already been working with the free version of this program.  As the popularity of the free versions has increased, NoRedInk has restricted access on the free platform.  Teachers and students are already familiar with the program, and the pricing noted in this grant application includes virtual training for up to 15 teachers and unlimited support.  So far, the rep has been highly responsive and easy to get in touch with.  With this in mind, teachers (who are already excited about the possibility of this grant and enhanced access) will implement the program as soon as they have access. 

As a coach for the ELA teams at both sites, I would like to further work with PLCs to come to agreements about how much and how teachers will use this program in the weeks following the purchase.  It is my hope that we can use the remainder of this year to set agreements that can be applied universally for the 2018-2019 school year. 

Can you share this grant with your grade level or subject team?

Yes.  This grant would be shared with the entire ELA department at either North Tahoe School or at North Tahoe School and Alder Creek Middle School.  We are hoping that the grant will fund both sites; however, if the request for both sites is unreasonable, there is a quote that covers only North Tahoe School.

The goal of this trial is to assess whether or not a program like NoRedInk has measurable value when used in conjunction with the ELA materials that the district is currently working to review and adopt. If the results seen at North Tahoe High School are replicated at North Tahoe School and Alder Creek Middle School, the plan is to request long-term funding of this program as a necessary part of the ELA adoption; the expectation (hope) is that it could be funded through Educational Services from the same funds that are allocated for materials adoption. We are asking for funding for 13 months; following this time period, we hope the district will adopt this as a valuable and necessary part of the ELA guaranteed and viable curriculum.
Amount Funded
Individual Budget Items(s)
$3200 - 3 months, 450 students, 1 site, up to 5 teachers
$7000 - 3 months, 980 students, 2 sites, up to 15 teachers
$10450 - Roughly 13 months, 450 students, 1 site, up to 5 teachers
$22994 - Roughly 13 months, 980 students, 2 sites, up to 15 teachers
Budget Notes

Currently we are asking for funding for the remainder of this year and moving into the following year (2018-2019).  As the English Language Arts teachers pilot new programs to supplement their curriculum, there is a need for additional support.  Once a program has been adopted by TTUSD, we will be better able to assess any ongoing need for a program like this and take it to sites or Educational Services for potential ongoing funding.  Below you will find estimates for one school (North Tahoe School), two schools (North Tahoe School and Alder Creek Middle School), for three months (through the end of the 2017-2018 school year), and for 13 months (through the end of the 2018-2019 school year).  Each quote provides an estimate for the grant we are requesting.  It is our hope that this program can be made available to all teachers and students at the middle school level within the district.

North Tahoe School (3 Months):

3 months, 450 students, 1 site, up to 5 teachers

  • The timeframe will be now through the end of this school year.

  • The price includes student licenses and virtual training for up to 5 teachers + unlimited support

  • $3,200

Both Schools (3 Months):

3 months, 980 students, 2 sites, up to 15 teachers

  • The timeframe will be now through the end of this school year.

  • The price includes two site licenses and virtual training for up to 15 teachers + unlimited support

  • $7,000

North Tahoe School (13 Months):

The end of this year and next school year (roughly 13 months), 450 students, 1 site

  • The timeframe will be now through the end of the 18/19 school year.

  • The price includes student licenses and virtual training for up to 5 teachers + unlimited support

  • $3,200 (for the remainder of this school year) + $7,250 (for all of next school year) = $10,450

Both Schools (13 Months):

The end of this year and next school year (roughly 13 months), 980 students, 2 sites

  • The timeframe will be now through the end of the 18/19 school year.

  • The price includes two site licenses and virtual training for up to 15 teachers + unlimited support

  • $7,000 (for the remainder of this school year) + $16,000 (for all of next school year) = $23,000

In addition to this information, the NoRedInk representative, Brett Gallagher, has offered to visit us or arrange a webinar to offer more information and answer questions for teachers, administrators, and Excellence in Education. For this meeting to be arranged, please contact Krista Strecker, middle school Teacher on Special Assignment, at kstrecker@ttusd.org. 

Other funding sources

Site principals encouraged me to apply for this grant.  It is our intention to use the grant to pilot the program to assess its necessity/value in being included in the ELA curriculum adoption to be presented to the Board in January 2019.


21st Century Learning:

The Partnership for 21st Century Learning identifies eleven skills of preeminent importance for today’s learners. Four of these skills are particularly emphasized and fostered through the program NoRedInk: Critical Thinking and Problem Solving, Communication and Collaboration, Flexibility and Adaptability, and Initiative and Self-Direction.

Students will use this adaptive technology program in order to complete lessons, games, and assessments around essential grammar and language concepts.  Examples include apostrophes, fragments, comma splices, capitalization, fused sentences, pronoun agreement, pronoun case, commas, colons, semicolons, hyphens, subject-verb agreement, coordinating conjunctions, subordinating conjunctions, conjunctive adverbs, MLA citation, parallelism, verb tense.  Students will use these lessons to “analyze how parts of a whole interact with each other to produce overall outcomes in complex systems” (Partnership, 2015).  The foundation of language and grammar can get lost in a focus on writing structure or overall ideas, but an adaptive program responds to the individual student’s needs and the learning completed with the program can be leveraged to apply to the student’s writing later.

Additionally, this program will address the 21st Century call to communicate clearly.  Students will be better able to “articulate thoughts and ideas effectively using oral [and] written...communication skills in a variety of forms and contexts.”  Again, the unique feature of adaptive programs is that they differentiate for the individual learning them; each student regardless of his or her initial proficiency level, will be challenged with appropriate levels of grammatical learning that they will be challenged to apply to their oral and written communication.

As we know from Hattie’s research in Visible Learning (2009), an average typical schooling experience has an effect rate of .4, and the use of feedback increases that effect size to .94, meaning that the average student in a typical schooling experience would experience more than an additional year of growth over the course of a school year as a result of timely and embedded feedback.   Feedback in one of the top 10 most effective factors in a student’s learning experience. NoRedInk provides this feedback directly to students immediately and adapts the program to meet their needs.  This learning can then be applied to their writing as they move into tasks that require greater depths of knowledge.

Students also learn the 21st Century Skill to take initiative and be self-directive.  Students will be able to “monitor, define, prioritize, and complete tasks without direct oversight.” With the support of their teachers and district-wide proficiency scales developed this year, students will be able to identify their areas of need, and follow through with independently driven learning to grow towards proficiency in all of the district’s priority standards, particularly the language standards.

Alignment with District Technology Vision:

“The vision of the Technology and Information Services department is to expand and enhance learning across all grade levels and content areas” (Tahoe Truckee, 2015). As expressed above, adaptive programs are truly one way in which technology can be used to enhance rather than supplemental educational services available to our learners.  In the 2015 report, the Tahoe Truckee technology team referenced a Technology Counts Report (2014) making the claim that “One of the most potentially powerful tools for student learning is in ­class formative assessments that provide real­ time feedback on what students know and understand.” This source reemphasizes Hattie’s research (2009) published in Visible Learning. Further, In Appendix A of the Technology Plan, this is stated as a goal: “Classroom Domain: Advance (Increase) use of technology to promote more relevant and effective learning.”  The most effective and relevant learning is that which is specifically tailored to an individual student; NoRedInk does just this.

Reference List:

Hattie, John. (2009). Visible learning: a synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. New York, NY: Routledge.

Partnership for 21st Century Learning. (2015). P21 framework definitions. Retrieved from http://bit.ly/1faYqXp

Tahoe Truckee Unified School District: technology plan. (2015-2018). Truckee, CA: Tahoe Truckee Unified School District.  Retrieved from http://bit.ly/2EgavfF