Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Technology and Enoch

Parent Cecilia McCormick, who is active in Special Ed issues, took it on herself to do some research on Superintendent Enoch's district and gathered info on their technology use  Here an e-mail she sent to the Seattle School Board:

I would like to share with you information provided by SRVUSD PTA yesterday.  Given the costs of scaling up our district's use of technology and its ever-evolving nature, I'm sure you would agree that the plan and direction should be developed in a thoughtful and flexible manner, so that we don't chase money down rabbit holes.

Each School Building has Tele-conferencing CapabilitiesAll middle and high schools have been fitted with a large media video screen and videoconferencing systems.  In their 84 pg CA state-mandated Technology Plan (TP), the district states "we anticipate using these systems for students' virtual field trips, leveraging guest speaker events simultaneously across multiple school sites, inter-school collaborations between students, and professional development/collaboration activities among staff." (I find the last use to be particularly relevant and helpful for collaboration among special education staff or "electives" teachers who often feel isolated in their buildings.)  The PTA and San Ramon Educational Foundation is considering expanding this effort to all elementary schools as well.

ALL schools have computer labsUnlike Seattle, SRVUSD has computer labs in every school, sometimes multiple labs.  I was gratified to note that ALL children have access to these computers, including Special Education and ELL students.  Students are given time during the day to work on skill-building.  Furthermore, "carts of laptop computers are quickly becoming the norm to bring near 1:1 computing experiences to the students in the context of their regular classrooms." 

All middle and high-schools, and 80% of elementary schools have interactive white boardsThese smart boards project a computer desktop onto the display.  Teachers can write with a stylus on smart tablet with the image projected on the display, and then save these notes for, say, posting on the Source (so parents can see how a teacher explained a math lesson).  These boards can obviate the need for separate TVs or DVD players as well.  Also, boards can be tied to a "clicker system" so that teachers can conduct quizzes with the feedback displayed instantaneously on the screen.  This would demonstrate whether students are "getting it" and make quizzes fun!

All middle and high-schools, and 60% of elementary schools have at one set of student-response systemsAs stated in TP, "these systems are being used for formative assessment across multiple curricular areas." Clickers provide instant feedback to teachers regarding their classroom's understanding of concepts.  This is SO much more helpful than MAP in terms of true formative assessment 
More use of "Cloud" computing and software"Cloud app tool use is seeing explosive growth in the middle schools. These tools are the foundation of project-based learning for integrating the essential skills of critical thinking, problem solving, communications and collaboration with the curricula."  
Finally, in my review of SRVUSD's TP, there was no mention of an "academic data warehouse" or thrice-yearly MAP-like assessments.  The district did not impose multiple assessments beyond those required by the State.  And, as you well know, SRVUSD is #1 in state scores, without incessant testing or school performance frameworks or school stratification.   See pg 41 of the TP.  The estimated budget for their technology plan is $11M.  What we could have done with the $Million$ invested in MAP (roll out for data coaches, labs, subscription fees is $7.8M)!

In my opinion, developing and implementing a technology plan like this must be initiated by SPS and not be expected from PTAs (with only wealthy ones able to provide this benefit, exacerbating the "opportunity gap").  I urge you to look at the SRVUSD Technology Plan - and set the wheels in motion for smart technology.

SRVUSD Video Conferencing  http://srvusd.ca.schoolloop.com/videoconf
 

7 comments:

mirmac1 said...

Thanks Melissa. The heading says Special Education, but in fact the body of the email was one I prepared on SRVUSD's use of technology.

I urge everyone to check their Plan. Where's SPS' plan?

Unknown said...

Way to go Cecilia!

Watching said...

Innovative guy.

mirmac1 said...

Thank you Unknown poster. The PTA Council in San Ramon is WAY different than the Seattle Council. I found the ladies I spoke with very down to earth, anti-excessive testing, very supportive of Enoch's engagement style. The Council Prez said "we are a very outspoken and active committee, and Mr Enoch listens to us and acts or reacts accordingly."

The district IT website provided a lot of helpful information. Clearly, technology is viewed as a means to continually improve the work. It is not expected to replace teachers, rather more readily engage students. It was common sense plan - not a haphazard approach.

Floor Pie said...

Said it a minute ago and I'll say it again:

Huge thanks to Cecilia, Melissa, and to everyone who keeps asking the special ed question.

This is such a serious issue, as our numbers are growing and there is not a strong, reliable infrastructure in place to fairly, benefically accomodate the influx of students on the autism spectrum and support their teachers and classmates.

The more I hear about Enoch, the more it seems like he's the strongest of the three finalists in this respect. If you agree, even if you're not a special ed parent (because this affects your kids too -- they sit right next to ours in the classroom and will have a much happier time if there's adequate special ed support for their neighbors), PLEASE e-mail the Board and let them know. Maybe they'll listen. A girl can dream...

Disgusted said...

Be sure to check Salem-Keizer's AYP.

Results for disadvantaged and sp. ed. students are dismal. I hope parents take an opportunity to review Salem-Keizer's reports and write to the board.

The board will deliberate and select the next superintendent tomorrow.

mirmac1 said...

Thank YOU Floor Pie for your efforts as well.

I see I misparaphrased (is that a word? should be) the PTA Prez. It should be "we are a very outspoken and active parent community..." Big difference and great to hear.