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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the AEM Pilot?

The AEM Pilot is an interactive web-based tool for K-12 districts. Its purpose is to help K-12 districts self-assess and monitor their progress toward developing more robust, sustainable systems for the provision and use of accessible educational materials and technologies (AEM). Using scaffolds such as guiding questions and exemplars, the AEM Pilot helps K-12 districts build a shared vision for the improvement of their AEM-related services.

Why use the AEM Pilot?

The AEM Pilot is built around the Quality Indicators for the Provision of AEM in K12, a synthesis of AEM-related best practices identified through a rigorous process involving substantial input from the AEM community. Through their use of the AEM Pilot as a self-assessment and progress monitoring tool, K12 districts can translate these best practices into actionable steps for improving the timely, consistent and coordinated delivery of AEM-related services for all students who need them. These services are key to increasing the participation and progress of students with disabilities in the curriculum in ways that are consistent with civil rights laws and other legal mandates.

Who should use the AEM Pilot?

The AEM Pilot is built for teams (or “crews”) with a broad representation of professionals with roles and responsibilities that impact the provision of accessible materials and technology across a district. A key goal is to promote communication and collaboration and create sustainable practices for the timely provision of high-quality AEM, and this can only be done with a team effort. The size and composition of the crew for a given district will vary based on the unique characteristics of that district. We recommend that you think about roles instead of specific titles when putting together your crew. Your crew can include any of the following roles, which are discussed in more detail in the Manual: leadership, teachers and other instructional staff, technology, data management, library and media services, families and students. Assembling a crew that represents a cross-section of relevant personnel will ensure that broad perspectives are considered as decisions about AEM are made. Furthermore, having a diverse crew will help you tap into multiple networks and make information gathering and dissemination much easier.

How does the AEM Pilot work?

The AEM Pilot has two key components for each Quality Indicator: Guiding Questions and a Self-Assessment. The Guiding Questions are meant to prime crew members for reflection through the use of a number of exemplars that place the Quality Indicator in the context of state and district practices. For each guiding question, there is space for crew members to document their discussions in preparation for the Self-Assessment. These notes can be revisited, edited or printed at any time. The Self-Assessment is where the crew members will prepare their reports and track their progress toward achieving their goals for a given Quality Indicator.

The AEM Pilot is designed to support continuous improvement and refinement over time. To get started with the tool, a district will conduct an initial self-assessment for a Quality Indicator called a “cycle.” The AEM Pilot will save data and provide action steps your crew can use to make progress between a number of these cycles. In this way, the tool will serve a dual purpose for both self-assessment and progress monitoring.

Do we have to complete a cycle in one sitting? Can we start a cycle and come back to it later?

Yes, you can work at your own pace by starting a cycle and coming back to it later. For each Quality Indicator, you can enter your information (your rating and rationale, goal, action steps and timeline) and choose the “Save as Draft” option at the bottom of the Self-Assessment page. When you return to the Console, the Self-Assessment button for that Quality Indicator will indicate that it is “In Progress.” You can select that button to return to your draft and make any changes. Only when you select “Generate Report” at the bottom of the Self-Assessment page will your cycle be marked as completed. You can see a list of all of your cycles for each Quality Indicator in the Console, along with a timestamp to let you know when it was completed.

Is there a recommended order for how to proceed through the AEM Pilot?

For the initial self-assessment or cycle, we recommend the district address the Quality Indicators in order. This will help crew members see how the indicators fit together into a whole more powerful than its parts. With subsequent cycles, districts can focus on specific quality indicators that need more attention in order to improve their system.

How long does it take to complete a “cycle” in the AEM Pilot?

The amount of time it takes to complete a cycle will depend on a number of factors that reflect the unique characteristics of your district: the size of your district, the knowledge of AEM and experience level of your crew, how well your crew communicates and works together, and the current status of AEM in your district can all play a role in how long it takes to complete your cycles. The more prepared your crew is, the more efficiently they will move through the self-assessment activities. The Manual includes some tips to optimize the productivity of your crew (you will find the bottom of the “Putting Together a Strong Crew page).

What information does a report from the AEM Pilot include?

The AEM Pilot is a process facilitator that guides a crew through collaborative decision-making. The output of a self-assessment cycle for a Quality Indicator will include the following information provided by the crew in a report:

  • Your crew’s rating for the Quality Indicator
  • Rationale used to select that rating
  • Goal for the next cycle
  • Action items with a timeline

The Console is where you can view the reports for any cycles you have completed. Just select the link for the desired cycle to view a report you can print out at any time.

Is the information we enter into the AEM Pilot confidential and secure?

Your privacy is important to us. Your personal information and district input will not be shared outside the AEM Pilot. Read our privacy policy for all CAST websites and tools for additional information related to privacy and security.

If we need help or still have questions, how do we reach out?

To provide feedback or ask a question about the AEM Pilot, send an email to aempilot@cast.org.

By seeking and blundering we learn.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German writer
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