Exemplary School Models
Cajon Valley Middle School is an urban school in the greater San Diego, California metropolitan area. Students at CVMS come from a wide range of cultural and ethnic backgrounds, and 82 percent receive free/reduced lunch. The culture at the school had deteriorated to one where 300 fights took place a year. District leaders set the goal of training students to be leaders in their communities. This included significant training for all teachers and students and a new emphasis on character and culture. It also includes a goal of providing students with access to the digital tools they would need to be leaders now and in the future. CVMS also encourages middle school students to practice the same digital communication skills that are used in college, and in ways that allow the students to collaborate together and take ownership of their learning as producers of content. Students used cloud-based email accounts and writing applications, accessed course materials online, and to contributed to threaded discussions. The school has a significant population of English Language learners who have been in the country for 3 or more years and are still not reaching proficiency in English. For these students, empowerment through writing is encouraged through classroom blogs supported by the National Writing Project’s Writing for Change project. Math students supplement their learning and advance at their own pace through online and interactive math tutorials. Teachers have developed a wide range of online classroom resources for project-based learning.
The school is especially proud of its video production class and its live morning broadcast, produced by students. This broadcast features announcements, student-produced character trait messages, and praises that encouraged academic growth. Immediate results improved student scores and student engagement as well as an improved school climate and culture. Fights dropped from 300 a year to just 3. The number of students attending less that 95% of school days dropped by 37%, and disrespect/defiance episodes have dropped by 79%. The scale scores in writing for English language learners have begun to increase and overall student performance has increased by over 20 percentage points in Algebra and English. The school increased its Academic Performance Index score by 20 points as well.
The Dysart Unified School District in Arizona encompasses 140 square miles and serves a number of communities including the cities of Surprise, El Mirage, and some unincorporated areas of Maricopa County. Dysart is the fasted growing school system in Arizona, tripling in size since 2000.The student population in 2010-2011 was just over 24,000 students, tripling in size from the student population in 2001-2001 of approximately 7,000.
The student population of Dysart is very diverse representing 34 different native languages. 51 percent of the student population is white, 46 percent are Hispanic, eight percent are African-American, one percent Native American, and one percent Asian. There are 11 Title 1 schools and the number of students in free and reduced lunches has been increasing over the last few years. In 2000 there were four K-8 buildings and one high school. Today, Dysart has grown to 20 K-8 buildings, 4 comprehensive high schools, an early childhood education center, and an alternative program in the district. Dealing with this hyper-growth created both challenges and opportunities for the district, but by undergoing aggressive strategic planning Dysart created an innovative and creative approach to use technology to improve learning—turning the challenge into an opportunity.
The Dysart strategic plan is a contract with the community and the students, but it's also a roadmap that includes incorporating new century learning skills into the curriculum as well as the assessments, and that has been an objective of Dysart for the last five years. A major reason for the success has been teacher participation and leadership. Collaboration is a part of the culture of the district. Developing new approaches to curriculum, assessments, or programs is a team approach, and the team involves not only teachers, but also collaboration across the district. Technology is used across Dysart—not only in the classrooms—but by supporting all the work being done across the district in a variety of ways.
Focusing on how to help teachers was a major component of the strategic planning which included looking at how to deliver resources to them. This led to the development of iPAL which stands for “I plan, I assess, and I learn.” iPAL is an electronic storehouse of information that includes student data, but also contains the curriculum, curriculum resources, and professional development for teachers. This program allows teachers to work collaboratively. They are able to go to their desktop or their laptop, go into iPAL, and have everything that they need available including analytic tools that are built into it, so they can actually analyze it, and they can analyze across all of those components. Dysart also implemented an “innovation ambassador” program in each school to work with teachers on how to best use technology as a learning tool. Teachers in Dysart are encouraged to be innovative and try new things, the innovation ambassadors serve as both mentor and collaborator to the teachers, providing valuable resources and support to them. Through this collaborative and teamwork approach, Dysart is an example of a school district ahead of the curve in moving their students to a modern 21st century learning model. Because of their strong example to other school districts, Dysart was chosen in 2012 for a National School Boards Association (NSBA) site visit.
QCSD is a traditional k-12 public school district in southeastern Pennsylvania, located in Bucks County, about an hour north of Philadelphia. QCSD has a limited tax base and serves many students from working-class families.QCSD has 13 schools, serving approximately 5,500 students, 24 percent of whom are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, and 10 percent of whom are black or Hispanic.
In QCSD’s “self-blend” model, students can take face-to-face courses on campus, but can also choose to take supplemental online courses, either at school or off-site.Some QCSD students enroll only in on-campus, face-to-face courses. Others enroll in face-to-face courses for part of the day and take other courses online, either on campus or offsite. Still others are full-time online students who rarely if ever set foot on campus.Students choose the arrangement that best fits their needs, with the advice and support of teachers and district staff. QCSD has operated its blended learning program since 2008-09. In that time, the number of QCSD students enrolled in online courses has tripled. In 2012-13, 303 students in grades 6-12 are taking at least one online course.
In 2011, QCSD won the Innovator Award for Innovative Online Learning Practice from the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL). According to district officials and teachers, QCSD’s blended learning program has constantly improved since its inception, in large part due to a unified vision to improve student learning. “As a district, we are compelled to give students the best learning opportunity,” says Chris Roth, president of the Quakertown Community Education Association—the local teacher’s union. “This is a true collaborative effort to work towards the common goal of putting student learning first.”
Since QCSD started its blended learning program, student achievement data have shown significant improvement. In 2010-11, QCSD’s high school dropout rate decreased by 10 percent, and in 2011-12, the graduation rate increased from 88 percent to 95 percent.In 2011-12, the district had the highest SAT and ACT scores to date, and also had the most students in the school’s history score proficient on state tests. The College Board recognized Quakertown Community High School on its Honor Roll for increasing the number of students enrolled in AP courses and maintaining or increasing test scores. School officials credit these positive trends to the district’s blended program. According to Tom Murray, QCSD’s Director of Technology and Cyber Education, “Student engagement has increased dramatically” as a result of the blended program, “and student achievement has grown as a result.”
Mountainview, West Virginia
Follow Mountainview’s Path to Digital Learning - Get inspired! Check out the school that helped inspire the first ever Digital Learning Day with their No Paper No Pencil Challenge. Mountainview Elementary in Morgantown, West Virginia shows off some of the great ways teachers are effectively using technology to transform the student learning experience.
A Glimpse of the Future of Learning in Mountainview - Digital technology has changed everything in our modern society from shopping to banking. In Morgantown, West Virginia, school leaders have seized the opportunity to provide students with the best possible learning experience powered by digital tools. This video follows students through the school day and even learning online at home.
Englewood High School (Colorado): With approximately 3000 students PreK-12, Englewood is a uniquely small district in an urban setting. Located just south of Denver, Englewood faces many of the same challenges of a large urban district including an increasing poverty rate, but without the same resources. The Colorado Department of Education had deemed Englewood a "Turnaround" district in 2010. The district undertook immediate reform measures, which have already resulted in some of the largest gains in the State of Colorado in terms of individual student growth and moving up one category of performance from "Turnaround" to "Priority Improvement"in 2011. Englewood is committed to focused reform efforts, many of which are supported through the innovative application of digital resources, including a one-to-one netbook model in several grade levels, the use of interactive whiteboards, blended learning options and a state-of-the-art STEM lab.
Mooresville Graded School District (North Carolina): The Mooresville Graded School District is located approximately 30 miles north of Charlotte, North Carolina. A district of approximately 5500 students, MGSD consists of three elementary schools, two intermediate schools, one middle school, and one high school which includes an advanced technology and arts center. Learn more about Mooresville at Mooresville's Digital Conversion and Education Week: Building the Digital District
Klein Independent School District (Houston, Texas): Klein ISD is located about 40 minutes from downtown Houston and has approximately 46,000 students. In 2001, Klein embarked on a journey of technology integration and began rolling out four computers per class in elementary school classrooms, with the long-term goal of transforming learning through technology. Gradually, technology integration spread to all grade levels, most recently expanding to one-to-one computing at the high school level. The decade-long effort of planning, implementation and constant improvement has required hard work, vision, commitment and a significant amount of money, according to Ann McMullan, executive director of educational technology for the Klein Independent School District. But the payoff has been has also been substantial, from academic improvement to the excitement and engagement that’s observable in the classroom.
New Tech West High School (Cleveland, Ohio): The unique mission of New Tech West High School is to equip students with strong social and technical skills to produce graduates who are prepared for success in the 21st century workplace. Focused on producing technologically literate graduates that are college ready, New Tech West utilizes a one-to-one computing environment to implement project based instruction. Students are engaged in learning that is relevant, rigorous and focused on building skills necessary to be successful in college and career.