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Saluting Tech-Savvy Districts

Each year the National School Boards Association awards members of its Technology Leadership Network for their outstanding use of technology.

August , 2006
From an early age, students at the award-winning Calcasieu Parish Schools use tech for learning.
From an early age, students at the award-winning Calcasieu Parish Schools use tech for learning.

Each year, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) looks beyond the price tag, quantity, and cutting-edge aspect of educational technology and recognizes three districts for their outstanding use of technology to improve student achievement. Winners of the 2006 District Salute awards are members of the Technology Leadership Network (TLN) and will be honored at the annual T+L Conference this fall. Take a look at how the winning districts use technology for professional development, assessment, and after-school programs.

Loudoun County, Virginia: Finding and Keeping Top Teachers
Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) hires 700 to 800 teachers every year, which is more than the number of teacher graduates from all of the colleges and universities in the state. To help contend with the issue, LCPS uses WinOcular, a software system that streamlines the application and hiring process. Candidates apply online, and administrators search a web-delivered database filtered by job interest.

Once new teachers are hired, LCPS must provide them with the tools they expect for instruction, as well as deliver ongoing, job-embedded professional development (PD) for its veteran teachers. To that end, the district’s robust PD program includes workshops designed for technology leadership.

More effective, perhaps, in training staff are the district’s technology resource teachers (TRTs). TRTs manage the technology resources in the building, design and deliver site-based workshops, provide and model lessons that incorporate technology, and consult with teachers and students on how to best use the tools in their classroom.

To manage all PD activity, the district uses My Learning Plan, a web-based database, to keep track of registration and other records. Staff can preview and enroll in development opportunities and review their training history from home or school.

Kyrene School District, Arizona: Three Steps to Using Data
To maximize decision-making for student achievement, Kyrene School District developed a comprehensive, three-prong plan for putting its numbers to use. Part one of the data solution includes a data warehouse from Tetra Data that provides an intuitive web-based tool for collecting student demographic and summative assessment information. Using this system, administrators generate reports on student performance on district- and state-level exams.

Teachers primarily use part two of the solution, which is called Inform and is provided by EDMin.com. The system is built around the district’s online curriculum and gives teachers instant access to preformatted reports on students’ assessment history.

Microsoft Class Server (MCS), part three of the solution, delivers online content and assessment at the classroom level. MCS is integrated with Tetra Data and Inform so that the three components work together. For example, MCS collects formative data and exports it to Inform, which produces reports combining both formative and summative results.
All systems update nightly from the Student Information System, providing the best possible response to changing enrollment.

Kokomo-Center Township, Indiana: Taking Tech Beyond the Classroom
The classrooms in Kokomo-Center Township Consolidated Schools have it all: PC tablets, mounted data projectors, surround sound systems, distance-learning programs, student-response systems, and a slew of instructional software. But it’s how the district extends opportunities beyond the classroom that makes it stand out.

Because most of the population in the area is of low socio-economic status, some students find it difficult to incorporate technology into their studies outside of school. Kokomo-Center keeps its middle and high schools open after school hours so students, as well as parents, can access the technology. The district is also making a concentrated effort to provide those resources to the community. Kokomo-Center works with Housing and Urban Development authorities to provide computing resources to the local community center.

Due to popular demand, Kokomo-Center created an extracurricular program that allows students to work with hands-on applications of technology. The after-school program developed out of Project Lead the Way, a middle-school-level curriculum that introduces students to engineering concepts through pre-engineering training. This multileveled curriculum provides popular motivational alternatives for many high school students too. Now the curriculum extends beyond the normal school day. Interested students can join either of the technology teams: TechnoKats at the high school level and Lego Leagues for middle schoolers.

Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana: Succeeding in the Wake of the Storm
NSBA also honors a TLN district with its Trailblazer Award, given to a previous winner who has warranted additional recognition. This year Calcasieu Parish Public Schools received the award as a result of its technology planning that allowed the district to serve not only students and faculty but also its community following Hurricane Rita. Calcasieu uses its technology resources for a disaster preparedness program to face anything from bird flu to terrorist attacks.

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