Hop­kins re­ports on S.T.A.T. ini­tia­tive

Con­sul­tants make rec­om­men­da­tions

The Dundalk Eagle - - NEWS - By VIR­GINIA TER­HUNE vter­hune@ches­pub.com

Over­all, stu­dents in Bal­ti­more County pub­lic schools say they like us­ing their com­puter de­vices in class as part of the con­tin­u­ing roll out of the school sys­tem’s S.T.A.T. tech­nol­ogy-in-the-class­room ini­tia­tive.

Stu­dents are also en­gaged in the S.T.A.T (Stu­dents and Teach­ers Ac­cess­ing To­mor­row) learn­ing ac­tiv­i­ties, ac­cord­ing to a mid-year eval­u­a­tion of the pro­gram pre­sented by Johns Hop­kins Univer­sity con­sul­tants to the Board of Ed­u­ca­tion’s cur­ricu­lum com­mit­tee on Feb. 16.

But stu­dents also re­ported prob­lems with slow In­ter­net con­nec­tions and dif­fi­culty ac­cess­ing some In­ter­net sites, ac­cord­ing to a 27-page PowerPoint pre­sen­ta­tion to the com­mit­tee.

“That was the big­gest theme that came through,” said Hop­kins con­sul­tant Jen­nifer Mor­ri­son about the re­sults of the stu­dent sur­vey sec­tion of the pre­sen­ta­tion.

The Hop­kins con­sul­tants rec­om­mended proac­tive mon­i­tor­ing and fix­ing of tech­nol­ogy prob­lems, one of a num­ber of sug­ges­tions in the PowerPoint sum­mary and in the full 90-page re­port posted on the school sys­tem web­site.

The Bal­ti­more County school sys­tem is now half­way through its third year of phas­ing com­puter use into class­rooms across all grade lev­els. The in­tent is to equip stu­dents for work in the dig­i­tal and global econ­omy.

More than 30 schools around the county are cur­rently par­tic­i­pat­ing, in­clud­ing:

• Col­gate Ele­men­tary and Spar­rows Point Mid­dle in Dun­dalk;

• Stem­mers Run Mid­dle and Ch­e­sa­peake High in Essex;

• Hawthorne Ele­men­tary in Mid­dle River;

• Chase Ele­men­tary in Bow­leys Quar­ters;

• Vincent Farm in White Marsh;

• Joppa View Ele­men­tary in Perry Hall; and

• Hal­stead Academy and Har­ford Hills in Parkville.

Some stu­dents said they like spend­ing time on their de­vices, while oth­ers wanted more in­ter­ac­tion with other stu­dents.

The Hop­kins con­sul­tants rec­om­mended that the de­vices be used by pairs or small groups of stu­dents to help fos­ter stu­dent in­ter­ac­tion.

The con­sul­tants also cited a need for teach­ers to find a bal­ance be­tween in­struct­ing and pre­sent­ing in­for­ma­tion to stu­dents and func­tion­ing as coaches who help stu­dents use their com­put­ers to find in­for­ma­tion and solve prob­lems for them­selves.

Stu­dent achieve­ment

Some school board mem­bers have ques­tioned whether the con­tin­u­ing multi-mil­lion dol­lar in­vest­ment in the S.T.A.T. pro­gram is show­ing any signs of hav­ing boosted stu­dent per­for­mance on tests.

English and math re­sults for first through third grades on the MAP (Mea­sure of Aca­demic Progress) tests showed steady im­prove­ment since S.T.A.T. started in the 2014-15 school year, ac­cord­ing to the PowerPoint pre­sen­ta­tion.

How­ever, third grade re­sults in English and math for the PARCC (Part­ner­ship for the As­sess­ment of Readi­ness for Col­lege and Ca­reer) tests went from slightly above the state av­er­age in the 2014-15 school year to slightly be­low the state av­er­age in the 201516 year.

Hop­kins con­sul­tant Steven Ross said that “just be­cause you in­tro­duce de­vices doesn’t mean that scores are go­ing to go up.”

He said that the S.T.A.T. pro­gram is not in­ter­fer­ing with achieve­ment and that the re­sults so far are “not even sta­tis­ti­cally sig­nif­i­cant.”

It’s not the de­vices that will im­prove out­comes, it’s how they are used, Ross said. The goal is still to con­tinue im­prov­ing the qual­ity of in­struc­tion.

Role of S.T.A.T. teach­ers

Also part of the re­port were the re­sults of a sur­vey of class­room teach­ers about the ef­fec­tive­ness of S.T.A.T. teach­ers as­signed to help them in­te­grate com­puter use into lessons.

The ma­jor­ity of class­room teach­ers found the S.T.A.T. teach­ers to be avail­able and re­spon­sive and their in­struc­tion to be very help­ful, es­pe­cially if it was pro­vided on a one-on-one ba­sis, ac­cord­ing to the re­port..

Class­room teach­ers have also been learn­ing how to in­te­grate tech­nol­ogy into course­work through train­ing work­shops, anal­y­sis of data, work­ing on a teacher de­vel­op­ment plan, ob­serv­ing other class­rooms and watch­ing the S.T.A.T. teach­ers demon­strate var­i­ous tech­niques.

The teach­ers sug­gested that S.T.A.T. teach­ers in­tro­duce tech­niques and strate­gies in smaller batches, giv

ing time for mas­tery, be­fore mov­ing on to the next batch.

“That way I feel I can get bet­ter at one, and then move on to oth­ers, rather than feel like I have 20 re­sources to im­ple­ment that I don’t even know where to be­gin,” said one class­room teacher in the re­port.

One prob­lem with the train­ing, how­ever, is that the spe­cial­ized S.T.A.T. teach­ers are some­times be­ing asked to also cover classes as a sub­sti­tute teacher, ad­dress stu­dent be­hav­ior prob­lems or take on ad­min­is­tra­tive du­ties, said teach­ers.

The Hop­kins con­sul­tants rec­om­mended that the role of the S.T.A.T. teacher be nar­rowed to fo­cus just on in­struc­tion. They also rec­om­mended a more for­mal eval­u­a­tion of their skills and ac­tiv­i­ties.

Sev­eral board mem­bers asked for com­ment about how the tech­nol­ogy ini­tia­tive was pro­gress­ing.

The con­sul­tants said it is headed in the right di­rec­tion, not­ing that Bal­ti­more County sys­tem is ahead of some other sys­tems, where some teach­ers have re­sisted changes in the class­room.

“It’s off to a good start,” said Ross about the S.T.A.T pro­gram. “There’s a good foun­da­tion, but there’s a lot more to do.”

To see past re­ports and the mid-year PowerPoint and full re­port, visit the www.bcps.org home page and go to Aca­demic Fo­cus/S.T.A.T—the Move to Dig­i­tal Learn­ing. Scroll down the left side of the page to S.T.A.T. In­de­pen­dent Eval­u­a­tion and click on More.

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