When Piedmont City School District’s education leaders looked to implement technology in the classroom, the priority was to not only transform education, but to lift the entire community. With that in mind, the district launched the mPower Piedmont initiative designed to provide every teacher and student in grades 4 – 12 with a MacBook and rigorous, engaging digital content and curriculum. The mPower initiative was the beginning of a push to provide equitable access to technology for everyone. Results include students moving from meeting academic standards to exceeding academic standards on the Alabama High School Graduation Exam.
“For us, mPower Piedmont is much more than simply a one-to-one initiative,” said Rena Seals, director of technology for Piedmont City School District. “To achieve our goal of transforming the community around education, it had to be education for all, not for a select few, not based on whether you had the means to afford it. We wanted to level the playing field, close the digital divide, so that everyone in Piedmont had equitable access to technology.”
“We turned to CompassLearning Odyssey to help us achieve this goal,” continued Seals. “We needed rigorous yet flexible content to help us succeed, and Odyssey gave us what we needed.”
Online Classes, Flexibility, and Digital Citizenship
Among the uses of CompassLearning Odyssey in the district, including credit recovery, distance learning for non-traditional students, Advanced Placement, and regular instruction, is online classes. Students in grades 10-12 are in an online class first period. The students can choose when, where, and how to complete the first-period coursework as long as they maintain a B average.
More than just technology
Superintendent Matthew Akin gives much of the credit for the district’s success to teacher leaders who embraced the technology initiative and continue to put students’ interests above all else.
“Computers didn’t make this all happen,” said Akin. “The whole environment of innovation made it happen.”
High school students moved from Level III, which is meeting academic standards, to Level IV, which is exceeding academic standards, on Alabama’s High School Graduation Exam. The high school was named a 2012 National Blue Ribbon School and achieved a Distinguished GreatSchools Rating of 8 out of 10.
Internet connectivity for the community was enhanced as well, as a result of the city-wide wireless mesh built with federal grant money to provide wireless access to and support economic development for the entire city.