The Language of Content

Articles from the Speak Agent team that provide classroom resources, implementation strategies, research-based perspectives, and updates regarding our Content+LanguageSM platform.

Five Secrets to District-Wide Success

February 28, 2023 | Ben Grimley |

My previous post reported on the groundbreaking success with Speak Agent in middle grades math and ELD at Prince George’s County Public Schools. But how did PGCPS achieve results? This article explores the key ingredients to achieving success.

Recap of Findings

statisticsPGCPS implemented Speak Agent in 1,600 middle grades math classrooms and found a 10.3% gain in math scores for students who completed 10 activities in Speak Agent. They also saw a 17-point increase on the WIDA ACCESS overall scale score for their multilingual learners in math.

Secret #1: Create a Coalition

create-smPGCPS took a cross-departmental team approach to tackling the challenge of math language and communication. The Math, ESOL, and Title I departments met regularly to articulate the challenge and jointly crafted a solution. They developed a Math Literacy Strategy first, before engaging with partners such as Speak Agent. 

Secret #2: Plan Together for Success

partner-smPGCPS engaged us as a strategic partner on a multi-year journey toward a clear goal. Together, we crafted a half-year pilot at four carefully selected middle schools; evaluated results with principals, teachers, and students; and jointly made adjustments before scaling. We grew implementation step by step from an initial 2,000 students to more than 27,000 over two years. 

Secret #3: Integrate with Instructional Guidance

integrate-smThe Math Department at PGCPS understood that their teachers were overburdened. Therefore, they integrated Speak Agent into day-by-day guidance for lesson planning. We'd already mapped our lessons to the PGCPS curriculum, so they simply plugged each activity into their pacing calendar. This made it a cinch for teachers to see where Speak Agent fit. Here's a sample:


Secret #4: Use Data to Drive Decisions

data-smAt every step in scaling, PGCPS reviewed the efficacy and engagement data. Early on, we asked third-party researcher Leanlab Education to analyze progress data from nearly 7,000 students. They found a strong correlation between activity in Speak Agent and learning new math concepts. The Math and ESOL departments also observed classroom activity directly.

Secret #5: Listen to Student Voices

voice-smPGCPS wanted to track three key questions: Are our students engaged with this new platform? Does it help them learn? Do they prefer Speak Agent to other tools or activities? These data are not seen as one-time answers, but are built into regular data monitoring. Check out the charts below. These findings are a key driver of the district's scaling decisions and strategy.


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Ben Grimley

Written by Ben Grimley

Ben is CEO and Co-Founder of Speak Agent, Inc.