When North Carolina’s Mooresville Graded School District launched a 1-to-1 laptop initiative three years ago, Superintendent Mark Edwards prepared himself for an”innovation dip,” a small drop in student performance as educators and students adjusted to the new approach.
He says he anticipated it would take time for students and teachers to master the use of laptop computers, digital curricula, and more personalized ways of teaching and learning. Though he believed that in the long run the approach would benefit students and be borne out in test scores, Edwards says he and the school board were mentally and philosophically prepared for a drop in scores over the first couple of years as the 5,600-student district worked out the kinks.
But just the opposite happened.
In three years, the district went from ranking 30th in the state in school performance measurements to fourth, and Edwards says he is gunning for first place this year. District officials saw boosts in other areas, too. Suspensions dropped at the high school level by 65 percent and districtwide by 50 percent, Edwards says.
“Students like using relevant tools and materials,” he says. “The kids are more engaged and excited about school. They’re doing things in class and saying, ‘I will do this in my future.’ “
Balancing digital innovation and academic accountability is a tricky task for schools—one that is fraught with worries about what will work and what won’t. Schools want to utilize new tools and embrace different ways of teaching, but not at the expense of their performance on state achievement tests. Experts say finding that balance through trial and error is one of the keys to improving schools. Read more…