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The Carroll County School District has received a “Top-10 Ranking in the 2011 Digital School Districts Survey.”
The National School Boards Association announced April 21 that the Carroll County School District has received fifth place in the nation in the Small Student Population Category (fewer than 3,000 students). NSBA has conducted this survey in conjunction with the Center for Digital Education for the past eight years to showcase how school boards are effectively using technology to communicate with students, parents, and the community, and to improve district operations.
“It’s definitely an honor to be recognized nationally for our hard work over the past four years in technology integration,” said Lisa James, superintendent of the Carroll County School District. “Our students today are digital learners and technology helps them engage in the curriculum more effectively.”
District representatives received the award at the National School Boards Association’s Annual Conference April 21-23, 2012 in Boston. Assistant Superintendent Bill Hogan and James, along with Carroll County Board of Education members Mona Kindoll, Carolyn Jones, and Jennifer Beach, attended the conference.
“For a district our size to be recognized at the national level, it shows that we are advancing in the right direction,” board vice-chair Carolyn Jones said.
Fellow board member Jennifer Beach said that the district has really ratcheted up its use of technology in recent years, mentioning the addition of video conferencing equipment, One Call Now to send recorded phone messages to all student homes, one-to-one computing at Carroll County High School to give all juniors and seniors access to a personal laptop computer, and increased professional development for teachers to apply technology in the classroom.
“It’s important to be on the cutting edge to give our kids every advantage we can,” said board chair Mona Kindoll. “Everything deals with technology.” Kindoll said that attending the NSBA Annual Conference is another way of using the latest ideas in managing a school district effectively to better prepare students for the future.
Technology director Cindy Johann, who prepared the prize-winning entry along with public relations director Jeffery Fremin, said that the past few years have focused on developing a technology infrastructure, giving teachers the tools they need to better integrate technology into the learning process.
“The next step is for students and teachers to use technology naturally, in a way that best fits the learning targets,” Johann said. “We don’t want to use technology just to use technology; we want to use technology to engage students and to help them learn more efficiently and effectively.”
Johann said that answering the 34 questions as part of the Digital School Districts Survey helped the district realize not only what it was doing well, but what areas still needed more improvement.
“We realized that we needed to begin recording board meetings and make those more accessible to the public,” Johann said, “so audio and video recordings are now being posted on our website.”
The Digital School Districts Survey examines and documents school boards and districts’ online presence, technology applications that allow the public to interact with school board members, administrators, and teachers (as well as their access to information such as school board calendars and district policies) and technology use in the district and classrooms.
Participation in the survey was open to all U.S. public school districts which were placed in three categories based on size of enrollment. Those districts which demonstrated the most comprehensive use of digital standards were chosen as the top ten-ranking districts. Besides Carroll County Schools’ fifth place finish, the only other Kentucky districts to rank in the top 10 were Fort Thomas Independent School District, which placed 10th in the small school category (under 3,000), and Madison County School District, which ranked in the mid-sized district category (3,000-15,000).
James said she and district leaders are developing plans to take the district to the next level of technology integration.
“We want to develop more technology leaders in the district by having teachers and students helping each other to use technology in new and innovative ways,” said James, who said school technology specialists will be coordinating their efforts to work one-on-one in the classroom with teachers.
Kindoll said that although the district has increased student access to technology at school by purchasing 300 MacBook laptops at Carroll County High School and is funding a set of iPads for every two classrooms at Cartmell Elementary School and Carroll County Middle School, the next step is to help students gain greater access to technology at home.
“We need to see what we can do to get more wireless access out in the communities,” Kindoll said.
James said that technology is just one component of the overall “Vision 2021,” the district’s efforts to help students develop the 21st Century Learning Skills needed so that all high-school graduates are ready for college, career and citizenship by 2021.
“When students leave our doors,” said James, “we want them to be prepared, not only for the workforce, but for any endeavor in life.”
Jeff Fremin is director of public relations for Carroll County Public Schools.