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Why Inexpensive Assessments Are Yielding High Returns

Poeta Digital's start up know-how is helping AFIT Learning become the go-to in-class evaluation application that teachers need to better support students experiencing gaps in their learning

Who is AFIT Learning?

Seeing first hand the effects of minimal school resources on children in need of learning support, AFIT Learning founders, Jared Froese and Heather Boone, developed the Academic Frustration Intervention Tool - AFIT. This tool takes into account the critical role played by frustration and helps teachers identify the underlying academic challenges that can be key indicators of lagging skills and even learning disorders. 

AFIT is an accessible, easy-to-use evaluation tool that utilizes teachers’ professional insights and knowledge to quickly evaluate for learning disabilities and then receive immediate, individualized recommendations that will enable students to succeed in the classroom and beyond. Importantly, AFIT alleviates the typical constraints of evaluation time and cost, allowing more students, more quickly get the support they need. 

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The App In Action

Poeta Digital’s start-up know-how is helping AFIT Learning become the go-to, in-class evaluation application teachers need to better support their students experiencing gaps in their learning. 

My experiences with Poeta have been excellent. From the development of the application we've been working on, to the rollout and marketing, the staff with Poeta have been engaged and approachable throughout, leading to a very successful process and outcome. 
Jared Froese Founder - AFIT Learning

The Problem

When AFIT Learning founders, Jared Froese and Heather Boone, approached Poeta, they had personal and professional insights into the problem faced by teachers needing to rapidly evaluate students’ literacy and numeracy skills. 

The typical process in education is for students deemed at high-risk of falling behind academically to be recommended for an in-depth psychoeducational assessment, which considers cognitive, academic, social, emotional, and behavioural functioning. These assessments are costly and take time to complete. 

AFIT was proposed as an interim measure that teachers could use to quickly evaluate and then implement practical solutions based on that evaluation. Froese and Boone knew they wanted something digital that fell somewhere between a formal assessment and no assessment whatsoever, and they needed Poeta’s expertise to create this application in such a way that teachers would find in it a practical support capable of delivering immediate results.

They wanted a better way of managing workflow by digitizing their data processing approach to optimize operational expenses. They needed to improve the quality of data necessary to effectively run their leadership programs.

The Solution

Poeta’s digital strategist, business analyst, technical architect, and design lead consulted with the AFIT team to determine requirements. We learned that the AFIT assessment needed to be quick to complete and easy to do, requiring no specialized skills or training on the part of the teachers using it, but leveraging their unique and detailed knowledge of their students to benchmark those students’ abilities. 

The application also needed to be repeatable so that assessments could be completed monthly to see if positive change was occurring based on the strategies generated through each assessment. Finally, it needed to provide relevant, actionable recommendations for multiple age groups and allow the information gathered to be exportable as a PDF for both internal use by teachers and external presentation to other professionals and to parents.

As AFIT Learning is a start-up, Poeta adopted a flexible and nimble development approach, identifying the most important functionality, rapidly prototyping an application and then evaluating the prototype to refine it towards an acceptable set of application features that could meet teachers where they were at. 

Once we were able to focus group and test the functional prototype in a real world classroom setting, we then scaled up the functionality and formalized the application into a minimal viable product (MVP). 

AWS provided us with the perfect environment for this project, as we were able to keep resource costs to a minimum during prototyping and could remain flexible with the  infrastructure tools and the resources we deployed. Through the use of CloudFormation templates and deployment automation, we were able to grow and scale the development, testing, and staging environments to match application development requirements and easily support production launch and the onboarding of teachers and schools. 

The AFIT Learning application is deployed into an auto-scaling environment using both Amazon Compute and data-based resources as well as web application firewall, load balancing, and S3 buckets.

The Result

AFIT Learning is in the initial stages of growth, rolling out the application to first customers and refining functionality through focus groups and end user feedback. 

Teachers who have signed up for the application like its functionality and the ease with which they can use it in their classrooms. Teachers continue to provide us with guidance on new feature functionality and feature enhancement, which is exactly what you want from a start-up perspective—engaged users providing insight as to where they’re finding value and guidance on how they would like to see the application function and evolve.

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