School districts across the United States are faced with financial challenges when trying to support today’s students and their unique needs. Pair that with the expectations of communities and school boards to raise student achievement scores on state testing, and districts can often feel overwhelmed and defeated.
I am very fortunate to be a part of a school district where the focus in on the whole child and not exclusively on state testing. As the Superintendent, I am responsible for maximizing student growth and potential. Bottom line, East Noble School Corporation (ENSC) is driven to prepare students for post-secondary success in a global economy that requires more than a razor sharp focus on test scores.
A few years ago, ENSC was no different than most school districts across the United States. Student engagement was declining, graduation rates were suffering, and the community was questioning our ability to prepare students for the current workforce. On October 31, 2010, the ENSC School Board began discussing the impact that technology has on our economy and the need for our students to be technology literate to compete post-graduation. To accomplish this, the School Board then decided to implement a 1:1 environment for all students in grades K-12: a bold and risky move that, if not appropriately implemented, could compromise state test scores. The Board showed that it was prepared to sacrifice test scores to best prepare students for success following graduation.
With less than nine months to effectively plan, purchase, and implement a 1:1 environment for 3,800 students, our staff quickly stepped up. Now every kindergartner and first grader uses an iPod Touch, students in grades 2-4 learn on iPads, and students in grades 5-12 are given Lenovo laptops. Our 1:1 framework requires continuous professional development and support, a sustainable financial framework, and an evolving curriculum. We don’t even purchase textbooks anymore! I often get asked how that’s possible: the amount of information on the Internet is exponentially greater, more current, and more engaging. We have outstanding teachers who are able to create exceptional lessons as we strive to create an environment where the use of technology is a natural part of instruction.
Technology will never be perfect. Our 1:1 design is not without its challenges, but it’s less about the devices themselves than about preparing students for the future. Another school year begins in just a few weeks – our third 1:1 year – and I look forward to the discoveries still to come!