Chris L. Davis

Pearson Virtual K-12 Teachers: Personalizing Assessments for Every Student

Decorative only screenshot of a portfolio work sample


The K-12 Education Management platform was enhanced with new functionality that allowed teachers to personalize assessments for students (specially designed instruction). This update aimed to reduce plagiarism, enhance student performance and align with state standards.

Problem Statement

The K-12 Virtual School Platform didn't allow teachers to customize assessments. As a result, they had to rely on outside tools to create individualized assessments for their students. This took up a lot of their time and meant they had less time to spend with students in live sessions. It impacted student performance, grades, and graduation rates, which the Virtual Schools were responsible for.

Users & Needs Enabling Teachers to Personalize Instruction for Every Student

The new assessment functionality is designed for Pearson Virtual School K-12 teachers. These teachers are responsible for their students' academic outcomes. They need education technology that supports their needs and allows them to customize instruction easily. With this functionality, they can focus on teaching instead of wasting time on workarounds and manual processes.

Wireframe for Custom Assessment
Managing the assessments was a large portion of the design effort, giving teachers the functionality to assign and manage when students receive the new assessment.

The goal is to provide teachers with flexible, accurate, and customizable assessments that meets state standards. Each student is unique, so a one-size-fits-all approach doesn't work. Teachers need to assess students and use instructional best practices to meet their individual needs.

Roles & Responsibilities My Role in the Project

In my role as the Manager/Principal UX Designer, I collaborated with various teams (Product, Engineering, Research, Quality Assurance, Support, Marketing) to design a solution for an existing education platform. The goal was to allow teachers to customize assessments for their students.

Wireframe for Custom Assessment
Initial wireframe for integrating custom assessment functionality within the education management platform.

I led the entire design process, starting from gathering requirements to creating design artifacts such as mockups, wireframes, and user journeys. Throughout the process, I made sure that the design solutions were validated through feedback from teachers, technically feasible within the existing system, and aligned with the scope of the engineering teams. I also conducted UI reviews, ensured compliance with WCAG 2.1 standards, provided support during the pilot and launch phases, and filed UI bugs.

Additionally, I provided guidance and mentorship to other UX designers on the project, ensuring that deliverables and timelines were clearly defined and met the expectations of all cross-functional teams.

Project Constraints and Activities Delivered for the Upcoming School Year Cycle

Product and technology leaders were under pressure from schools to enable customization of content, lessons, and assessments for teachers. This was part of a larger strategy to personalize student learning, which became a common theme in edTech after the global pandemic.

Releasing new products and features exclusively for the upcoming school year cycle has a timeframe of 4-6 months. This timeframe should account for the necessary time for discovery, design, development, release, training, and back-to-school activities.

Wireframe for Custom Assessment
High-fidelity mockup of the Custom Assessment manager, teachers use to create and publish assessments for students.

Once the project received approval, the we were tasked with defining design solutions while working within the constraints of the existing education management platform.

Project Discovery:

  • Collaborated with product to develop requirements for the initial phase of the project.
  • Led UX Designers and Researcher through discovery phases, including user interviews, synthesis, user journeys, wireframes, and high-fidelity mockups.
  • As a team, we worked closely with user research to plan, facilitate, and incorporate findings into the designs. Throughout the project, we conducted interviews with over 80 teachers and organized around 15 feedback sessions to gather valuable insights.
  • Provided initial designs to engineering for development. Onboarded new engineering teams to work effectively with UX, ensuring smooth design-to-development handoff.
  • Discovered that teachers wanted the ability to customize all assessments provided by the curriculum. This would allow them to accommodate students, reduce plagiarism, and align with state standards.
Screenshot of design system
Design system developed to provide UI components for the new custom assessment application.

Design Implementation

  • Defined a unified design system for designers and developers to use in parallel with other UX team activities.
  • To create a seamless experience for teachers and students, integrate a third-party assessment provider into the education management platform.
  • Collaborated with technology to implement the front-end for the assessment application, reviewing front-end pull requests and providing UI guidance.
  • Addressed design to development handoff irregularities through regular UI reviews, pull request reviews, and feedback sessions. Worked with a team of 7 front-end engineers simultaneously to meet sprint goals and ensure timely feature releases.
  • Adapted to the limitations of a legacy platform built with various technologies, some dating back to the early 2000s.
  • Proposed modern practices for developing and maintaining UI code and components, including implementing best practices in React UI components and establishing a design system.
  • Temporarily took on product management responsibilities due to staffing shortages.

Pilot and Launch

  • Assisted in piloting and releasing the assessment application, working with the user researcher to define pilot participants, gather and analyze feedback.
  • Evaluated post-release teacher feedback and worked with product to define and prioritize enhancement work items.
  • Defined metrics for tracking the creation and adoption of custom assessments, as well as event tracking on portions of the app to gather insights on usage and behavior.
  • Provided ongoing design support for the next phases of the assessment project.
  • Successfully released the application for the back-to-school season to over 40 virtual schools.
  • Identified the need for additional training for teachers on the advanced features of the new assessment application.
  • Partnered with engineers on UI tech debt items, integrating newer React UI components into the application.

Let's Talk

If you have a role or opportunity that sounds like a good fit, I'd love to hear from you. — Chris