will tell you just in the past three years we have created what we call an achievement period, which is an extra little block of time anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes, and during those times we provide remediation for students who aren’t performing to the level we think they should and enrichment for students who are higher achievers.
That has been critical to the success of our schools in every area, but is just asking a teacher or a school-level person to do more.
Everything we do has been under a microscope to see how are we doing, how can we improve,
how can we do more with less.
Q: You’ve recently announced new Twitter and Facebook accounts for the school system. How will those be
A: For communication, for not only sharing all the good news types of events in our schools as they occur but also for improved communication.
A lot of our families use Facebook as much as anything else, really more than e-mail. If, for example, we have inclement weather and need to put out a message for the opening, closing or late start of schools, we will use them for things like that.
Also to inform parents of report card dates or progress report dates, teacher conference dates, anything new and important going on in the school system.
Q: Do you anticipate moving to electronic textbooks at some time?
A: Electronic textbooks are in our sights. The problem is that the cost for electronic textbooks has not gotten competitive. The second problem is that when you go digital you still have a particular number of students who either don’t have access or just have a preference for paper. But mostly it is providing equal access to students who may not have access to the Internet from home. So we have some challenges there. One of our initiatives for the coming year is “Bring Your Own Technology.”
It’s an initiative designed so that we can maximize what students already have to make our instructional programs stronger in that area.
Q: What benefits do you see for the schools with this?
A: In our high schools the level of engagement will increase exponentially. For students who have grown up in the digital age, to have to take out a notebook and a pencil or pen to take notes (is more difficult). For them to be able to use their smartphones instead, that alone will engage them in ways that a teacher standing before them with a book on a desk can’t. It will take them into a new level of learning, the kind that they experience everywhere else except in school.
One of the security things we have to do is to have student access to our network, which means that our buildings have to go wireless and our network security, log-ons for students to access the networks, all that has to be put in place.
Our goal is to have that in place in our high schools by January.