Top Digital School Districts 2014-15 Using Cutting-Edge Technology

School Boards Help Expand 1:1 Laptop Initiatives, E-Learning and STEM Curriculum.

by Janet Grenslitt / March 24, 2015 0

March 24, 2015 - School districts’ use of innovative technologies such as 1:1 laptop initiatives, STEM curriculum and flipped classroom instruction earned top spots in the Center for Digital Education’s and National School Boards Association’s 10th anniversary Digital School Districts Survey.

The survey recognizes exemplary school boards’ and districts’ use of technology to govern their district, communicate with students, parents and community and improve the learning environment and district operations.

Highlights of the Digital School Districts Survey first-place winners (categories based on student enrollment):

Roanoke County Public Schools in Virginia (12,000 students or more)

For 13 years, the school board's 1:1 laptop initiative has been a cornerstone of the district’s technology program. With laptops, students have access to industry-standard software for opportunities such as internships with local fast-growing companies. Online courses help dual-enrollment students achieve Associate degrees from community colleges at the same time they receive their high school diplomas. Using dashboards and real-time data from online assessments, teachers can view the success of the delivery of content and adjust instructional delivery to individual students. High school students are studying advanced technology such as using drones equipped with HD cameras, robotics and using blueprint design tools and 3D printers. 

Decatur City Schools in Alabama (3,000 – 12,000 students)

Providing students with digital resources to enhance personal learning is a priority for Decatur City Schools. The district has received several grants to help put laptops into the hands of its students. Teachers have many sources of digital content, including use of video to flip classroom instruction, enabling students to watch instructional videos for homework and then use classroom time for further help and other activities to ensure knowledge acquisition.  Another recent initiative provided a wide assortment of devices for student check-out in the high schools – helping them decide what type of digital tools assist best with their learning. 

Regional School Unit 21 in Maine (up to 3,000 students)

RSU 21 achieved one-to-one computing in grades 4-12 with grade 3 scheduled for the current school year. Because it is a strong indicator of increased student success, professional development is a top priority of the district.  A full-time Curriculum and Technology Integration Specialist is employed to meet the needs of educators for positive instruction outcomes. In grades K-12, courses in engineering and robotics, including understanding and creating green energy sources, contribute to the district’s STEM high school diploma. 

“School districts, with the support of their school boards, continue their commitment to initiatives that enhance learning through innovative technologies,” said Alan Cox, Senior Vice President for the Center for Digital Education. “As a result, students are using all kinds of cutting-edge tools that assist learning, inspire creativity and help prepare them for the future.  It’s my privilege to congratulate these school districts who are leading the way towards modernizing education.”

“Over the past 10 years, the annual Digital School Districts Survey has illustrated amazing advancements in education technology,” said NSBA’s Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel. “This year’s survey yet again shows how technology innovations can empower local school boards to advance their vision for public education and implement policies that support that vision.”

The top-ten rankings are awarded to those school boards/districts that most fully implement technology benchmarks in the evolution of digital education, as represented in the survey questions.

All U.S. public school districts are eligible to participate in the Digital School Districts Survey.  View the full list of school districts honored below.

About the National School Boards Association

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is the leading advocate for public education and supports equity and excellence in public education through school board leadership. NSBA represents state school boards associations and their more than 90,000 local school board members throughout the U.S. Learn more at: www.nsba.org.

About The Center for Digital Education
The Center for Digital Education (CDE) is a national research and advisory institute specializing in K-12 and higher education technology trends, policy and funding. CDE provides education and industry leaders with decision support and actionable insight to help effectively incorporate new technologies in the 21st century.  www.centerdigitaled.com CDE is a division of e.Republic, the nation’s only media and research company focused exclusively on state and local government and education.

2014-2015 Digital School Districts Survey - Top Ten-Ranking Winners - Congratulations!

Large Student Population Districts Category
Student population 12,000 or more:

1st Roanoke County Public Schools, Va.
2nd Hampton City Schools, Va.
2nd Katy Independent School District, Texas
3rd Houston County School System, Ga.
3rd Klein Independent School District, Texas
4th Colorado Springs School District 11, Colo.
4th Township High School District 214, Ill.
5th Hall County School District, Ga.
5th Northwest Independent School District, Texas
6th Houston Independent School District, Texas
6th Irving Independent School District, Texas
6th Savannah-Chatham County Public School System, Ga.
7th Calcasieu Parish Public Schools, La.
7th Cherokee County School District, Ga.
7th Fayette County Public Schools, Ga.
8th Blue Valley Unified School District #229, Kan.
9th Poudre School District, Colo.
9th DeKalb County School District, Ga.
10th Richmond County School System, Ga.

Mid-sized Student Population Districts Category
Student population 3,000 - 12,000:

1st Decatur City Schools, Ala.
2nd Fayetteville School District, Ark.
3rd St. Charles Parish Public Schools, La.
3rd Mt. Lebanon School District, Pa.
4th White County School District, Ga.
4th School District of Janesville, Wis.
4th City Schools of Decatur, Ga.
5th Bergenfield Public Schools, N.J.
6th Center Grove Community School Corporation, Ind.
7th Kershaw County School District, S.C.
8th Monroe County Schools, Ga.
8th Oconomowoc Area School District, Wis.
9th Jefferson City Schools, Ga.
9th Lakeville Area Public Schools, Minn.
10th Stillwater Area Public Schools, Minn.

Small Student Population Districts Category
Student population Up to 3,000:

1st Regional School Unit 21, Maine
2nd Salisbury Township School District, Pa.
3rd Hanson School District, S.D.
4th Lindop School District 92, Ill.
4th Carroll County School District, Ky.
5th Arp Independent School District, Texas
5th Newcastle Elementary School District, Calif.
6th Spartanburg County School District Three, S.C.
7th Allendale Public Schools, Mich.
7th Jasper County School District, Ga.
8th Coxsackie-Athens Central School District, N.Y.
9th Chickamauga City School System, Ga.
10th Dublin City Schools, Ga.

Selected Survey Findings and Trends

School Board Meetings Participation Remotely:

  • 49% of states allow Board members to participate/vote in school board meetings remotely
  • In those states that allow it, 63% of districts have consented to remote participation by board members.

School district transparency:

  • 81% - District Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) information is posted online.
  • 77% - District graduation rates are posted online.
  • 76% - Ratings for individual schools and their test scores are posted online.
  • 68% - Annual progress on the school district’s strategic plan or board goals is posted online.

IT Priorities for the Coming Year:

  1. Personalized Learning
  2. Digital Content and Curriculum 
  3. Professional Development / Skills Training for Integrating Technology in the Classroom
  4. Online Testing
  5. Mobility; and Common Core/ State Standards
  6. Networking Infrastructure Upgrades
  7. Cybersecurity and Data Security Tools and their application
  8. Student Data Privacy including Policies
  9. Data Management / Analytics
  10. Cybersecurity policy including acceptable use of technology

Content and Curriculum: 49% of the districts have a digital content and curriculum strategy; 42% have one under development.

Core content:

  • 58% of the districts are currently delivering core content online.
  • 69% of the districts offer both blended classes and fully online classes to meet core content requirements.
  • 42% of the districts utilize video conferencing for instruction as part of core content.

Mobile devices:

  • 72% of the districts have a strategy in place for the use of mobile devices.
  • 78% of the districts use mobile devices for assessments.

Networking and Infrastructure: 87% of districts are upgrading networks to be ready for increased instructional demands, enriched digital content, multimedia-rich video content or cloud-based applications.

Social Media Interaction:

  • 89% of districts use social media to communicate with parents, students or the community.
  • 66% of districts allow students to use social media to communicate with teachers and other students.
  • 78% of district's policies address teacher/student interactions on social media sites.
  • 37% of districts have social media tools so the exchanges can be captured / recorded.

For questions, contact Janet Grenslitt, Director of Surveys and Awards, Center for Digital Education, jgrenslitt@centerdigitaled.com, or 916-932-1363.