League Of Innovative Schools expands to 40 public school districts and education agencies, aims to share examples of tech projects improving student performance.
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Digital Promise, a nonprofit organization authorized by Congress to promote better use of education technology, has added eight public school districts to its League of Innovative Schools, a national coalition of public school districts committed to digital innovation for students.
With the additions, the League's membership is comprised of 40 public school districts and education agencies in 24 states. Districts work together, along with entrepreneurs and researchers, to demonstrate and evaluate technological innovations for nearly 3 million students.
"The strength of the League of Innovative Schools is the aggregate experiences of its members," said Karen Cator, president and CEO of Digital Promise. "By sharing their leadership, challenges and breakthroughs, these eight exemplar districts will help educators across the country tackle the difficult work of improving the opportunity to learn for the nation's students."
The League's newest members include Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (N.C.), Elizabeth Forward School District (Penn.), Enlarged City School District of Middletown (N.Y.), Kent School District (Wash.), Riverside Unified School District (Calif.), San Jose Unified School District (Calif.), Springfield Public Schools (N.J.) and West Warwick Public Schools (R.I.).
New member districts were selected from a national pool of applicants. After being nominated by a current League member, each candidate was judged on educational vision, potential for impact and commitment to driving change in education.
In its previous work, the League helped member Houston Independent School District fix technology deficits at Sharpstown High School in Houston, Texas. Instead of online data collection, Sharpstown had a "data room" that was covered from floor to ceiling in grids and numerals indicating student performance data, such as proficiency levels, state test scores and GPAs. Teachers checked the data room daily and met with students -- anonymized with identification numbers -- to discuss their progress.
The League recognized that the school was in dire need of converting the data room into advanced software to track student data. As a result of the League's visit, Houston is working to turn around its worst-performing schools by implementing best practices from charter schools. The visit also inspired members to improve the procurement of technology for underperforming schools.
To address problems such as these, league members participate in meetings, school visits and webinars to share knowledge and ideas. They work in groups to develop common standards and determine technical specifications for new education technologies. They also participate in entrepreneurial accelerators and prize competitions, which grant districts the opportunity to leverage partnerships with research institutions, entrepreneurs and universities.
"The Internet, powerful mobile devices and free educational content have come together to create a huge new opportunity to learn," said Cator in a blog post. "This is education's Internet moment," she continued. "Are we ready?"