School Evaluation Summary
My school, John George High School, has islands of technology use that are exciting and innovative. But just as there are pockets of innovative tech use, there are also pockets of zero tech use.
We lack a current plan to scaffold our technology teaching and learning from where it is now to where it needs to be. If innovation happens, it happens because an individual teacher thinks it is worthy of diving into, not part of an overall plan to push our technology use forward.
John George High School is a public high school serving 2,631 students in 2013-14 which was the last year with available data. 61.3% of John George’s students qualify for free or reduced price meals. According to the California Ed-Data website John George High School scores a 59 on the Ethnicity Diversity Index. This is a scale from zero to 100 where a zero score would be for a school with all students in one ethnic group and 100 for a school with exactly ⅛ of students in each ethnic group they measure. The highest score of any school in California is 76.
Our major groups are Asian at 14.8%, Hispanic or Latino at 44.6%, Black or African American at 17.7%, White at 10.2%, and Filipino at 9.2%
13.5% of our student population are English Language Learners (ELL). 38.7% are Fluent English Proficient (FEP), while 22.1% have been Redesignated Fluent English Proficient (RFEP) since the previous year.
I evaluated John George High using the Maturity Model Benchmark Survey which analyzes the technological maturity of an institution using many different criteria where the school is ranked as Emergent, Islands, Integrated, or Intelligent.
Here is how I ranked John George High School along with the reasons for my rankings.
I place John George High School in the “Islands” column of the Technology Maturity Model. I do this because there are pockets of innovative use of technology. We lack a current plan for technology use as ours has expired and was written in 2012, which is a long time ago in technology years. We have had an infusion of technology in the past couple years but this infusion has not been done with much teacher input or according to a plan that teachers or even our school administration has been involved with.
We did have a couple years where our district created a “Technological Innovator” cohort of teachers to push the boundaries and start some innovation in our district, but much of the time was spent learning how to use already purchased educational systems. That program has ended and nothing seems to have grown out of it as we seem to have moved onto the latest trend, which is Career Pathways.
The technology we have access to, including online learning systems, computers, and grading systems have appeared with little, if any, teacher or student input or trial testing. Many teachers and students have access to laptop carts and internet but the level of their use of the technology depends upon the teacher’s ability and willingness to experiment. We have had some inservices and training days but for the most part the level of implementation is up to the teacher.
We have built a great infrastructure, however, with high speed ethernet and wireless networking throughout the school. We are also connecting to the City of San Leandro’s fiber loop. We need to develop a solid plan to use this infrastructure and all our technology in a planned way.
Going through this process of evaluating the technological maturity of my school has opened my eyes to a big problem in my school and most likely many schools. Adoption and use of technology in education is mostly determined by the individual teachers. What develops, when this is the case, are pockets of technology use and lack of use depending on the abilities of the teacher.
Imagine if mathematics education was determined by the education of the math teacher, where some were just not interested in fractions and multiplication but others were. We allow it with technology but not with other areas of education. There needs to be a technology plan with solid goals that moves teachers from where they are now to the technological innovators we need them to be.
The plan must also include expenditures for tech support so teachers are not mired in technological issues, but are able to use systems that are working well. Schools are way behind industry when it comes to tech support.
As I looked over our past technology plans for this assignment it occurred to me that every plan started because we had to have a plan in order to spend some money that was coming down from the State. The plans were quickly forgotten once the money was spent. We are now in between with other initiatives being funded by the State. This is an unfortunate cycle where initiatives and funding comes, we do a bunch of work to comply and get the money then we move onto whatever is next.