To better enable Glendale educators to identify students’ skills and areas for improvement, Glendale Unified will pay more than $3.4 million for a new program to track students’ progress in math and reading.

The district’s five-year contract with Massachusetts-based Curriculum Associates will give the district diagnostic assessments that will replace several other assessment tools.

The variety of assessments currently used at various Glendale campuses “makes it challenging for the district to monitor the effectiveness of intervention efforts,” according to a district report.

Relying on a more consistent program, officials said, will give educators a better grasp on how they can target student’s skill areas and craft intervention plans.

The district will pay for the Curriculum Associates’ “i-Ready” diagnostic program with a combination of state and federal funds. The program was “written from scratch” and based on the new Common Core State Standards being implemented in California and other states, making it more attractive to school officials than other diagnostic tools that merely adapt to the standards.

“We’ve done our homework on this,” Glendale Unified Supt. Dick Sheehan told the school board last week.

The district began implementing the new standards last year that call on students to become more thorough critical thinkers. Math problems on the new state standardized computer exams require that students write detailed responses about procedures they took in coming up with the answers, compared to filling in a bubble on past state exams.

The i-Ready program “embodies the philosophy that learning happens most effectively within a continuous cycle of assessment linked to instruction, through a practical, streamlined method,” according to a district report.

The program also provides teachers with ready-made lesson plans based on students’ individual results on the assessments.

In August, students from kindergarten through 12th grade will take the online-based assessments for the first time during two sessions lasting a total of 45 minutes.

Educators will give the students the assessments again in January or February and for a third time at the end of next school year.

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Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan.

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