Alachua County (FL) Public Schools has partnered with Scientific Learning Corp. (www.scilearn.com) to help students improve their language, literacy, and reading skills. The district will initially deploy Fast ForWord and Reading Assistant in 10 schools, with plans to roll the programs out to all of its schools over the next five years. Students who use Fast ForWord can increase their reading skill level by up to two years in as little as three months and continue to make fast progress long after finishing the program. Reading Assistant is the only online reading tool that uses speech recognition to correct and support students as they read aloud, building fluency and comprehension. “One of the major factors contributing to underachievement is not having a mastery of language, which not only affects students’ reading and writing performance but their performance in other areas as well,” says Owen A. Roberts, superintendent. “What makes Fast ForWord different from other language and literacy interventions is that it focuses on cognitive capacity development, rather than content, to address one of the root causes of learning difficulties.”
Muskogee (OK) School District 20 wanted to improve efficiency by moving student enrollment and registration online. The district selected InfoSnap (www.infosnap.com) and will integrate it with PowerSchool to give its 6,200 students a customized solution that will streamline registration through seamless, real-time, on-demand data transfer. “We’re a 1:1 school district with a large emphasis on technology. We want the first thing that new enrollees see to be an innovative software solution and a tablet to use it,” says Eric Wells, information services director. Previously, school administrators would distribute and collect 14 pages of paper for new students. Families would have to print a student’s name a total of 13 times before they could return their paperwork. “The workload for administrative staff required us to hire five more people at 40 hours a week for 6 weeks, every year. Implementing InfoSnap will save our district $12,000 a year just in manpower alone,” says Wells.
Manteca (CA) Unified School District has deployed nearly all of the 23,500 3E 2-in-1 tablets it purchased from Panasonic, Intel, and Microsoft. The 3E (“Engage, Empower, Enable”), which was announced at ISTE 2014, comes with a detachable keyboard and was designed for the K-12 market with interactive STEM-centric features, durability, and classroom-management tools. “As educators, it is our imperative to support extended learning and expose students to the tools and environment that await them in the work world,” says Jason Messer, superintendent. “Devices that are purpose-built for K-12 education, like the 3E, are ideal to meet the needs of this market and help the students leap into the digital age.”
As a cooperative district, Southwest Kansas Area Cooperative District 613 (SKACD) must provide special education services and paraprofessional support to 25 elementary schools, two middle schools, and 14 high schools. Because of a nationwide shortage of speech-language pathologists (SLPs), SKACD investigated online speech therapy. After doing two six-week trials with 40 students, SKACD selected PresenceLearning’s online speech therapy services (http://presencelearning.com). Now the schools have access to a Web-based network of highly qualified, fully licensed SLPs, online occupational therapy, and online assessments. “I think that everyone, including myself, was pleasantly surprised that online therapy could be effective with so many students,” says Shirley Goldsberry, assistant director at SKACD. “We didn’t anticipate how easily an SLP could build relationships with teachers, students, and parents online.”
In February, Iowa City (IA) Community School District announced new elementary boundaries for the 2015-2016 school year. To communicate these changes, the district turned to GuideK12’s SchoolSearch (http://guidek12.com/schoolsearch/), a school locator tool recently launched by GuideK12. Now, by simply entering an address into the site, parents are able to see new school boundaries and their student’s assigned school for the 2015-2016 school year. “SchoolSearch will be invaluable to our parents and the front office staff at each of our sites,” says David Dude, chief information officer. “This tool will make it easy for us to ensure families are registered at the correct school and eliminate many headaches that come with boundary changes. SchoolSearch will also help us detect mistakes or incorrect addresses and ensure we have valid addresses in our system.”
California’s Porterville Unified School District (USD), Long Beach USD, and Oakland USD will receive full access to Nepris (http://nepris.com), a cloud-based platform connecting STEAM professionals with teachers and their students, thanks to a grant from The James Irvine Foundation. Teachers use Nepris to request speakers or mentors who will talk with their students while exciting them about careers in science, engineering, technology, performing arts, and math. By managing the end-to-end process—starting with matching professionals’ skills to teachers’ needs and then hosting the sessions—Nepris allows professionals and companies to manageably and effectively reach out and interact with teachers and their students. “Nepris opens a whole new horizon for our students, encouraging them to reach beyond what they might have thought was possible for their lives. Our teachers will love that Nepris does this without being a complicated process or a burden on an already packed curriculum,” says Susan Benz, manager of career readiness for Oakland USD.
The state of Tennessee adopted instructional material and interactive digital tools from Triumph Learning (www.triumphlearning.com) for math in grades 6 through 8. Now teachers and students have access to Tennessee CC Coach, Tennessee Support Coach, Performance Coach, and Waggle. The Coach suite provides instruction, practice, and targeted support to meet the needs of all students, and Tennessee Support Coach helps identify gaps in student understanding and supports key foundational skills with scaffold instruction.
Metro Nashville (TN) Public Schools (MNPS)’s Learning Technology Plan aims to develop all students into digital citizens who are prepared to succeed in higher education, the workplace, and life. The plan was created with the belief that access to and purposeful use of technology is essential to students’ development of the knowledge, skills, and character necessary to succeed in an increasingly complex and information-rich society. Instead of purchasing traditional social studies textbooks that quickly become outdated, MNPS asked Discovery Education (www.discoveryeducation.com) to provide all middle school students with access to Discovery Education’s Social Studies Techbook series, a solution that features standards-based digital content that strengthens literacy, critical thinking, and citizenship skills. “Dynamic, relevant resources like digital textbooks will help our educators enrich their instruction and empower our students to learn social studies in ways that are simply not possible through the use of traditional print textbooks,” says Kelly Henderson, executive director of instruction.
To address newly enacted state initiatives such as the Colorado READ Act and the new Results Driven Accountability (RDA) framework, districts in Colorado are seeking innovative solutions to pull together disparate data and provide full visibility into each student’s performance. One system that’s making it easier is Excent Corp.’s Enrich (http://excent.com), a Web-based special needs software platform that provides compliance assurance and functionality, teacher ease of use, and an IT architecture designed for future special program needs. Recently, Boulder Valley School District, Cherry Creek School District, and Poudre School District began implementing Enrich solutions to improve compliance, enhance student performance, increase reimbursement revenue, and boost productivity. “It was important for us to choose a system that would be easy for teachers to use and that would allow us to put all of our student plans in one place,” says Debbie Van Scoyk, student plan application specialist for Cherry Creek Schools. “With Enrich, we will be able to collect, access, and manage all the information we need without taking away from instructional time, and it will make reporting easier as well.”
Henry Mancini Arts Education—an interactive, online, comprehensive arts curriculum for grades 7-12 designed by artists, educators, and digital learning specialists—has partnered with Schoology (schoology.com) learning management system to deliver its 3,000 online arts lessons in such topics as digital photography, music theory, and elements of dance. The curriculum consists of 32 semester-length courses aligned to the National Core Arts Standards. “When we set out to create Mancini Education, we knew that we needed a system allowing us to create incredibly interactive lessons on any device and wanted to work with a partner dedicated to helping us meet our timeline goal,” says Sal Aloe, managing director of Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center. “Schoology is perfect for developing and deploying our affordable arts curriculum for everyone, regardless of budget or technology platform.”