Covering 22,000 square miles, the Chugach School District serves fewer than 400 hundred students in three main schools – two of which are accessible only by plane or boat – and a career and technical education school in Anchorage. The district uses a competency-based model, where all students have Individual Learning Plans (ILPs) designed to help them learn at their own pace as they master different content areas.
Chugach classrooms are equipped with enough tablets and laptops for students to use educational apps and for teachers to conduct digital assessments, the results of which help them adjust ILPs. At the Anchorage school, high school students use flight simulation software before learning how to fly actual planes. The program just graduated its first licensed pilot. And when students have to miss school for extended periods of time (for example, when their families return to the Philippines during the winter), they can take a device with them and continue to work on projects and communicate with their teachers.
Digital learning is “absolutely critical for access and equity,” says Superintendent Mike Hanley, “When you have a school of 30 kids, and they’re not even connected by the road system, we can’t offer everything with just a few teachers. We’re in a global economy and we need to ensure that kids have a comparable education, even if their neighborhood is remote.”