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20 Questions, 20 Years of Istation: Part 1

by Andi Atchison on August 22, 2018

We are excited to celebrate 20 years of Istation! The company started out with just 8 employees and has seen many changes over the years as it has added more than 200 employees and now serves over 4 million students around the world. Today we talk with a few of those employees to learn more about the product and the company’s growth.

Q: What products does Istation provide?

A: Istation provides three main products: reading instruction in English and Spanish and math. Each of these products offers a benchmark and progress monitor called Istation’s Indicators of Progress (ISIP™). —Vickie Whitfield, Vice President of Instruction and Product Knowledge, 13 years with Istation

Q: When was each product released?

A: Istation began development of Istation Reading in English in the beginning, 1998. The initial release of product was in 2002. Istation Spanish was first released in 2009, and Istation Math was first released in 2011. —Vickie Whitfield, Vice President of Instruction and Product Knowledge, 13 years with Istation

Q: Who develops the stories and characters within Istation Reading, Math, and Español?

A: It’s a team effort. Each product team will get together and pitch story and character ideas that fit with the lessons that are being worked on. Then the team will discuss it and decide what works best and go with it. —Wes Boddie, Associate Art Director, 13 years with Istation

Q: Are there “Easter eggs” in Istation’s product? What are “Easter eggs” exactly, and where can some special ones be found?

A: There are a few “Easter eggs” in the program. They are generally characters or illustrations that are based off of employees. For example, one of the illustrations in a bookworms lesson about the weather has a picture of our CEO Dick Collins posing as a weatherman. Another Easter egg is a character in a letter room based off a former artist. —Wes Boddie, Associate Art Director, 13 years with Istation

Q: In your own words, what makes Istation so unique?

A: Istation provides a research-based, differentiated curriculum for educators that gives them the ability to assess and monitor students with data that prescribes lessons and groups students by skill and ability. It also determines if and when intervention is needed for all students. The real-time data is interactive and dynamic. —Sharon Tipping, Senior Vice President of Strategic Accounts, 15 years with Istation

Q: What little-known fact about an Istation product should customers know?

A: Customers should know more about Istation’s middle-school reading program. The program was designed with the middle-school-age reader in mind. Students helped develop the program by giving their specific feedback. In the field, I hear of students and teachers loving what it provides. —Sharon Tipping, Senior Vice President of Strategic Accounts, 15 years with Istation

Q: Who is your favorite Istation character and why?

A: I have to say the boy running with the cape is my favorite. He represents that every child can be a super student and superhero! —Richard Collins, CEO and Chairman of Istation, 20 years at Istation

Q: Is Istation’s assessment predictive of student success? If yes, how do the reports show that success?

A: Studies have shown that ISIP™ is predictive of student success. Istation’s reports provide teachers with tools to track student growth against measures of success. The Skill Growth Report illustrates students’ trends. The goals feature lets teachers assign individualized goals for each student and track students’ success against those goals. —Robert Rubin, SVP Technology and Business Process, 20 years at Istation

Q: What is your favorite aspect of Istation and why?

A: The thing I love most at Istation is when we hear stories from schools where kids’ lives are impacted positively by the work we do. We had a student come to Istation on a field trip and tell us himself that he was held back in 2nd grade, but he started on Istation and is reading really well now. —Bill Fahle, Senior Vice President of Development Research, 20 years with Istation

Q: What is your favorite Istation teacher resource and why?

A: It is really difficult to narrow it down to just one because there are so many dynamic resources available. Since I have to choose, I would say our books. There are so many levels available, and they are extremely versatile. They can be projected digitally for whole-group instruction as mentor text, used on a device digitally for small-group instruction, utilized for mini lessons, printed and sent home, or printed into sets for small-group reading instruction. And many are available in both English and Spanish! Since our books are original text, they are great for fluency probes as well as teaching comprehension strategies with unfamiliar text. — Sabrina Jones, Professional Development Supervisor, 8 years with Istation

Q: How do you suggest classrooms use Istation?

A: When I was in the classroom, I used Istation everyday as a workstation. Students continued their individualized learning plans on the computer, while I worked with small groups. It truly was like having an additional teacher in the room! They were engaged, on target, and receiving just what they needed. I would look at data to identify areas of need based on the ISIP assessment, then work on those same skills in groups. Students were essentially “double-dipping” in areas of need and acceleration. —Sabrina Jones, Professional Development Supervisor, 8 years with Istation

Tune in tomorrow for 20 Questions, 20 Years of Istation: Part 2.

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