Norfolk Public Schools has participated in the Clarity survey by BrightBytes for the past three years. The Clarity survey combines input from administrators, teachers and students to understand the environmental factors, skills, access levels and classroom factors that shape the impact of technology in a school district. The CASE Technology Framework is used to improve the impact of technology on learning outcomes.
CASE stands for Classroom, Access, Skills and Environment. Districts are given an overall CASE score based on survey results. Based on the overall district score, the district is placed on a maturity scale from beginning, emerging, proficient, advanced to exemplary. This maturity scale is used to highlight a district's technology readiness and use in each of the framework's domains, indicators and variables.
The data can also be broken out by building. So each building in a district also receives an overall CASE score and a placement along the maturity scale.
As a district in 2015-16, NPS received a 1068 CASE score which is in the proficient category. This score is down one point from the previous year but an increase of eight points over three years.
At NPS we are fortunate to have a lot of technology in a lot of classrooms. We continue to add technology because we believe that students should have all of the tools they need to be successful in today's classrooms. The purpose of the Clarity survey is to see if the technology you are adding is having an impact on learning outcomes. We would hope that as we add devices to classrooms, the CASE scores would increase.
We have been 1:1 at the Senior High for two years. The first year we did the Clarity survey as a district, we were not 1:1 at the Senior High. So in this building we can see a before 1:1 score and an after 1:1 score. The year prior to going 1:1 at the SH, the CASE score was 1055. The first year of 1:1, the CASE score was 1077. This was a pretty good increase. And this past year, the second year of 1:1, the CASE score grew to 1086. We have seen a steady increase in CASE score the longer the SH has been 1:1.
Last year, one of our elementary buildings, Jefferson (K-4), went 1:1. So again, we have a chance to measure before 1:1 and after 1:1 in this building. The year prior to going 1:1, Jefferson's overall CASE score was 1072, in the proficient range. This past year, the first year of 1:1, Jefferson's overall case score was 1102, in the advanced range. This score increased 30 points in one year!
Jefferson's CASE score is currently higher than the district's overall CASE score. This is the highest CASE score by far among the ten buildings in our district.
Giving each student a device that they can use throughout the day obviously made a difference in this building. But we have given devices to students in other buildings also. Our SH (9-12) and our JH (7-8) buildings are also 1:1. Both of those buildings have increased their overall CASE scores but their scores still remain in the proficient range.
How do I explain the dramatic increase in CASE score? It is so much more than handing a kid a device and letting them go. At Jefferson, Principal Angie Hausmann knew that getting her teachers the support they needed to effectively use these devices was vital. Angie and I met multiple times before the devices went to students to discuss how I could help her teachers. We decided that I would be in the building one day a month to meet with teachers during their plan time. Teachers could come in with questions and we would work together to solve them. Some months we had a specific theme for my day. For example, because the entire building was going to participate in the Hour of Code in December, our November meetings focused on Hour of Code. In April, our topic was creativity or using the devices to create things, having students show what they know.
In addition to my monthly sessions, I was available for teachers whenever they needed me. One day, I went to the 2nd grade classrooms and took the students through Kahoot while the classroom teachers watched. The next time the 2nd grade did Kahoot, the teachers were able to do it themselves.
I attended Thirsty for Knowledge Thursday sessions. (The principal buys everyone in attendance a soda, tea, etc and they learn something new.) The first Thirsty Thursday session I went to we discussed Seesaw which is a student driven digital portfolio. I knew that this app would be a game changer for Jefferson because it was one tool that every classroom could use. Jefferson is 1:1 with iPads in K-2 and Chromebooks in 3-4. Seesaw was the perfect tool to use in this multi-device environment. The teachers loved this tool and students and parents did too.
The week Jefferson participated in the Hour of Code during Plus (intervention) Time, I was in the building every day working out issues and helping teachers and students.
Bottom line, I was in this building, working with these teachers on a regular basis. I worked with this building principal to devise a training and support plan that would work for her teachers. I haven't had that opportunity in every building in our district. But I think we can see that teacher support is vital.
So what is next for Norfolk Public Schools and the Clarity survey? I plan to meet with each building principal to discuss his or her school's results. We will then set goals for improvement and discuss how I can assist in helping reach those goals.
At Jefferson, we are going to take things to the next level this year. We need to be sure that the technology we are using with students makes sense for the task involved. We need to be sure we have students creating things, not just using the devices to practice skills. We have a disconnect between the teachers use of the 4 Cs and the students use of the 4 Cs. We need to be sure students are creating, collaborating, communicating and problem solving with the devices. And we also need to do some work in the digital citizenship area. Teachers believe they are covering digital citizenship but students don't say the same thing. We still have work to do!
How do you know the money you are spending on technology is making a difference? Is improving learning outcomes? At NPS, we have learned through the Clarity survey that providing devices isn't enough. To make a big difference, we must support our teachers as well.