Our 4th post in a series of articles examining measurable successes in the deployment of education and instructional technologies.
Over the last month, we've been reading about examples of schools that have demonstrated measurable improvements in student performance through the meticulously planned integration of technology in their curricula and academic approach (see ‘Related Posts' at the bottom of this post for the rest of the articles in the series). Mooresville Graded School District in North Carolina has become a de facto model of this type of “digital school”.
While crafting their strategic plan in 2007, a “Digital Conversion” doctrine was crafted that incorporated the motto, “Every Child. Every Day”. The Digital Conversion plan is designed around the following beliefs and values (along with a number of others), that speak to the integration of technology, professional development, and a student-centered approach:
- Decisions are data driven and student centered.
- Technology-enriched, relevant curriculum and effective delivery of the curriculum are foundations for addressing diverse 21st century learners.
- 21st Century content (global awareness, civic literacy, financial literacy, and health awareness) is integrated into core content areas.
- District success hinges on embracing all students within an environment of pervasive caring that supports their optimal growth and success.
- Every student is successful when provided high expectations and sufficient support.
- All employees are treated as professionals and supported by sufficient resources and ongoing training designed to enhance and broaden skills that support the district vision, mission and initiatives.
The following paragraph from Mooresville's Digital Conversation Executive Summary provides further insight into the thinking and objectives behind this program:
“As technology is integrated and infused within our instruction, digital content in the curriculum becomes a vital resource for students and teachers. The laptop will not entirely replace textbooks, although the district intention is to increasingly use a digital format for teaching and learning. The use of computers as an instructional tool is becoming increasingly important, just as technology continues to increase in importance in our everyday lives and in the workplace. Students in MGSD are leading the way with creativity of content and knowledge achieved. Moving into a constructivist model of teaching and learning, students are gaining valuable critical thinking, problem-solving and higher-order cognition skills. With laptops at their fingertips, they are becoming more globally aware of their citizenship as digital natives. Students approach learning differently now. Research, project based learning, and inquiry/problem solving activities are becoming second nature to MGSD students. Mooresville students now personify the performance indicators of the NETS for Students.”
Interestingly, Mark Edwards, superintendent of Mooresville Graded School District, tells visitors, “this is not about the technology. It’s about changing the culture of instruction — preparing students for their future, not our past.” The Digital Conversion program clearly supports this thinking, and it has translated into measurable success in improving learning outcomes.
Here are a few of the statistics bearing out the effectiveness of Mooresville's approach:
- At $7,415 per year per student, Mooresville ranks 100th out of 115 districts in NC for per-student spending, but the district is now second in graduation rates and third in test scores across the state.
- 88 percent of students met proficiency standards on state tests in reading, math and science in 2011, compared with 73 percent three years ago.
- The district’s graduation rate was 91 percent in 2011, versus 80 percent in 2008.
Mooresville's success has been touted in many publications (like this article in the NY Times) and endorsed by high profile individuals like DOE Director Karon Cator. The district has been overwhelmed by requests to view the programs in action. They now bring visitors through in groups of 60 for monthly demonstrations of their academic approach.
I strongly suggest spending some time perusing the Digital Conversion web pages and the articles in the In The News section to learn more about this inspiring example of impactful technology integration in education.
With 4 posts in the last 5 weeks focused on measurable ed tech successes, we're going to take a break and move on to other topics in the coming weeks, but I do intend to write an article sharing other school's successes about once a month for the foreseeable future. If you know of some examples that you'd like to see shared here, please comment or use the Contact Form to reach out and tell me about it! Thanks. – KW