In today’s special education classrooms, the method of monitoring and intervening in problematic behaviors is still predominantly paper-and-pencil. It is subjective, inconsistent, and time-consuming– making it all-too easy for students to slip through the cracks.
Matthew Myrold and Fredrick Weiss know this problem well. Weiss is beginning his second year as a special educator at Liberty Middle School in West Fargo; Myrold is in Minneapolis working on his dissertation after having spent fourteen years in Fargo’s special education classrooms and being named the district’s 2015 Teacher of the Year for his work at Carl Ben Eielson Middle School. The two met when, while completing his Master’s degree in special education, Weiss took a job in Myrold’s classroom.
“Edfiniti is kind of the brain child of many conversations he and I had about the copious amounts of data we had to track and record for our special education students, and then knowing that, within the Multi-Tiered System of Supports program, there was no method for behavior,” Myrold said.
The Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) is a systematic framework which allows teams of teachers, administrators, counselors, and other school officials to collect, assess, and use data regarding student progress to make informed decisions about changes in instruction. Part of this system is the Response to Intervention (RTI), which aids in the early identification of students with learning and behavior needs and outlines appropriate interventions. However, according to Myrold, there is no systematic way for teachers to determine whether or not an intervention is being effective.
“Essentially what we did was take something that’s largely theoretical, and that is the Multi-Tiered System of Supports and synthesize that into something that is functional,” Myrold said.
That “something functional,” which they created with the help of Fargo’s own Myriad Mobile, was Edfiniti.
The Edfiniti Mobile Assessment Platform (MAP) is an iOS/web mobile app in which teachers can log student behaviors securely in the cloud. Based on the behaviors logged, MAP provides educators with real-time, proven interventions to mitigate the behavior and minimize disruption in the classroom.
“It is a means to objectively monitor and record behavior occurance, and in doing so, gives educators the ability to have data-driven conversations that ultimately benefit the student intervention-wise,” Myrold said.
Edfiniti also has what Myrold calls a “secondary effect” for the students themselves.
“Kids get lost in the emotion when they’re upset, when a behavior is exhibited, that they may not have a recollection of it as a whole,” he said. “What we’re able to do is sit down with kids and show them the behaviors they displayed… They’re able to see how they behave on an hour-to-hour basis throughout the day. That’s where authentic change can occur.”
Looking beyond the classroom
Last March, Myrold and Weiss ran a pilot of Edfiniti in their respective schools– and it was a huge hit. The app’s interface was easy for teachers to navigate and integrate into their daily practice. Educators saw how much Edfiniti’s objective, substantiated data could help in both parent and team meetings, as well as with determination for IEPs.
The success of that pilot has propelled Edfiniti forward; Myrold and Weiss have been invited to speak at the North Dakota Department Of Public Instruction Conference in October. They have moved into their beta stage, and are establishing the value of the platform. They are in meetings and conversations with several school districts, both in North Dakota and in the Minneapolis area, about implementing Edfiniti in the coming school year.
Myrold also hopes to see Edfiniti utilized outside of the classroom. The platform, he says, could be scaled to fit any market where there is a need to objectively measure behavior, from group homes to homeless shelters.
“[Edfiniti’s] true value lies in that it’s adaptable. Everyone that we have had the opportunity to visit with can see its use within their market niche,” he said. “Anywhere where there are people gathered and there’s behavioral norms that need to be met, our tool can measure.”
Learn more about Edfiniti at 1 Million Cups Fargo this Wednesday, September 7th, from 9:15 – 10:15 AM at the Stage at Island Park.