A Canvas & MasteryConnect Case Study: K12

New Caney Independent School District

Building a Seamless Learning Ecosystem With Canvas & MasteryConnect

New Caney Independent School District

New Caney, Texas

16,000+ Students

Started 2015


With the core belief that technology should be leveraged in a meaninful way to improve student learning, New Caney Independent School District is committed to designing flexible learning environments that put the needs of students first. Using Canvas as a central starting point for all teaching and learning, and MasteryConnect for frequent checks for understanding has allowed this forward-thinking district to plan beyond the immediate need for online learning and build an ecosystem where everyone—students, parents, and teachers—can thrive.

The Challenge

As a 1:1 district, New Caney ISD began searching for a comprehensive LMS in 2014. To lay the groundwork for their digital learning initiative to connect all learning tools and apps in one central location, a learning management system with the following attributes was needed:

Scalability: : A system that the district could grow into and would allow leaders to plan for the future, as its learning initiatives were set to expand in the years to come.

Flexibility: A system that could be customized to meet the unique needs of the district. With big plans for the expansion of blended learning, conforming was not an option.

Openness: A system that could connect all apps, tools, and features in one place to simplify the student experience. Leaders at New Caney ISD believed assessment and instruction should be housed together to inform decisions that drive the learning process forward.

After evaluating many different platforms, meeting with a Canvas solutions engineer made the decision clear: Canvas LMS was the system that could meet the district where they were and expand to get them where they wanted to be.

Key Insights

New Caney ISD simplifies the instructional design process by building Canvas Blueprints in grades PreK–12 so teachers can focus solely on curating content and curriculum.

The New Caney ISD team has one guiding rule for all learning apps and tools: Each tool must directly integrate into Canvas with the goal of improving accessibility for students.

New Caney ISD uses MasteryConnect as its assessment management system (AMS) for grades 6-12 to identify student levels of understanding, then uses that data to inform the instructional process in Canvas, its comprehensive learning management system (LMS).

”Our solutions engineer was very instrumental in our decision-making process. He showed us that Canvas would allow us to see beyond where we were at that time and that we were adopting a system that was going to grow with us.”
-Gretta Rogne, Director of Digital Learning

After brainstorming with the Canvas team, New Caney ISD joined the Canvas family in 2015

The Solution

Since adopting Canvas, educators at New Caney ISD have seen a fundamental shift in the way teams come together to collaborate and plan for the future. When the team was asked what has changed across the district since implementing Canvas, here’s what they said:

Establishing a Foundation for Teaching & Learning With Canvas

Teachers and administrators approach every instructional need by asking: “How are we going to make it work with Canvas?” This problem-solving approach drives New Caney’s collaborative relationship with the Canvas team. Leaders can bring new ideas to Canvas representatives and build a truly custom solution that meets their needs. Before, it wasn’t uncommon for teachers to be using multiple different tools to achieve a common goal. Now, teams are united in using Canvas, using it as the central hub for all apps and tools.

To create a flexible learning model, New Caney utilized "the four Cs of technology integration" to inform and guide all Canvas usage.

Creation: Courses should be designed intentionally and consistently.
Teachers create course Blueprints to simplify the instructional design process. Having a template to build from enables teachers to spend more time creating interactive learning activities that provide multiple ways for students to demonstrate what they know.

Consumption: Access to important information and helpful resources.
To provide equitable access to information and resources, teachers have created what they call “collaborative courses” for each subject and grade level as a method to share helpful resources and content.

Curation: Content should be organized and presented in a meaningful way.
New Caney has created guidelines for consistent course navigation in all grades and uses Loree, a design program that allows teachers to create course layouts that meet accessibility standards.

Connection: All stakeholders should be able to engage with one another anytime, anywhere.
When the pandemic began, Studio was used as the primary video hosting service, allowing teachers to deliver personalized content to students while they were apart. In addition to allowing teachers to track and measure student engagement, teachers were also able to caption content in dual-language classes to provide a more accessible experience for English language learners.

Although New Caney was already comfortable with online learning for grades 6-12, the COVID-19 pandemic presented them with the need to expand Canvas usage into elementary grades. A team of teachers and district specialists worked together to create a course template, complete with district curated content that could be Blueprinted to all PreK–5 courses. This simplified the online learning experience for young learners and their parents. A common template structure was also created for grades 6-12 to help teachers organize and deliver a consistent experience for secondary as well. Having this framework in place allowed teachers to focus on Social Emotional Learning and relationship building. New Caney increased usage of the Canvas Parent App to provide parents with a simpler way to stay informed as they managed their students’ education from home.

“We are not treating this as a backup plan. transitioning our courses to this format in Canvas has provided us with a sense of consistency and flexibility we never had before.”
-Gretta Rogne, Director of Digital Learning

Making Data-Driven Decisions With MasteryConnect

New Caney began using MasteryConnect to administer Benchmark assessments but has since expanded their assessment strategy to include formative assessments. Using formative assessments as frequent checkpoints for understanding has allowed teachers to identify learning gaps that have widened since the abrupt transition to online learning and adjust instruction in Canvas accordingly. This instructional cycle has created a mindset shift for teachers: Moving from a focus on assessment scores to using assessment data to gain a better understanding of what students know and don’t know.

"The thing about MasteryConnect that resonates with us is that it allows students to own their data. They see their data and know where they are and how they’re progressing."
-Gretta Rogne, Director of Digital Learning

The team expressed that although the adoption of mastery learning has become a large part of their assessment strategy, it took time to see that the data is not about the score. It’s about the mastery of a specific standard. This new approach has allowed teachers to evaluate their instructional efficacy and target instruction.

The Results

As New Caney ISD continues to grow, all new teachers go through a Canvas virtual training process. Leaders at New Caney noted that having teachers train within Canvas has directly impacted their understanding of the platform so they're better equipped to teach with it from day one.

To further invest in teachers, New Caney’s next initiative is the launch of its new PD system, called the “Professional Learning Portal,” that will directly integrate with Canvas and include specialized PD plans for each role within the district. To ensure all stakeholders are comfortable using Canvas, they also have plans to extend Canvas training to parents and students as well, providing them with opportunities to follow MasteryPaths and earn badges via Badgr within Canvas.

The strategic and consistent use of Canvas at every level has provided district leadership with a line of sight into the world of possibilities Canvas can oer. The team added that a key highlight has been the way leaders at New Caney have worked together with the Canvas team to support teachers throughout the adoption process. Every new initiative is approached in a collaborative way with a collective willingness to do whatever it takes to make the system work for the district, rather than the other way around.

"We feel confident moving forward with Canvas as our partner in this because it has allowed us to build a plan and vision for our district that is customizable."
Gretta Rogne, Director of Digital Learning

As the world of education continues to shift, New Caney ISD will continue using Canvas, as they believe it's instrumental in preparing students for the next step in their learning journey—whatever it may be.

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