Search results for: "bcps"

As you read recently, the Gates Foundation is investing $92 Million into the creation of “networks.” For the Gates Foundation, this is chump change. After all, it spent as much as $2 Billion on the Common Core, and $575 Million on trials of teacher evaluation by test scores (both failed to make any difference). So what is this tiny series of grants for? The education director of Gates is Robert Hughes, a lawyer who previously led New Visions for Public Schools in New York City. New Visions received the second largest grant.

Laura Chapman explains these grants, which promise remarkable results, results that have eluded Gates again and again.

She writes:


” It is still not clear what the $92 Million will do, although it’s likely to add a new layer of administrators.” Most of the Gates grants for “Networks for School Improvement” go to nongovernmental “intermediaries” and a theory of action (sort of) intended to induce targeted schools into some version of continuous improvement sharply focussed on improved test scores in math, plus college/career readiness.

I looked at the Gates Foundation press release and fact sheet about their current “portfolio of investments” in nineteen Networks for School Improvement. Almost all focus on improving test scores in math, middle school and 9th grade. Why? These test scores are viewed as “on-track indicators” for postsecondary enrollment.

Most of these grants require participating schools to adopt a continual improvement process (or continuous improvement process) determined by outside groups and “change experts.” The “science of school improvement” is a new slogan from reformers who wish to conduct experiments on students, teachers, and schools, while masking the corporate and science lab contexts from which the processes have been adapted. The Gates grants offer incentives for different versions of improvement science, some of these seeking incremental improvements, others seeking breakthrough improvements from “rapid” experimental cycles. All of these grants assume major deficiencies in the staff working in schools that that serve low income and mostly Black and Latino students, especially teachers of math.

In the following, I have edited the press release leaving in place only some of the jargon attached to justifications for each grant. Only one grant sends money to a public school district. Allmost all grants go to an intermediary organization structured to prevent direct oversight from elected school boards and supported by private dollars from foundations and corporations.

ACHIEVE ATLANTA: $532,000, 24 Months. Achieve Atlanta will help to develop a tool to support the successful matching of high school students to good-fit colleges and support students in selecting, applying to, and enrolling in good-fit postsecondary institutions. Aims: Create a matchmaking “tool” to aid students in selecting a postsecondary institution. Develop the “match and fit tool” as a predictive indicator for student success.

BALTIMORE CITY PUBLIC SCHOOLS: $11,160,000, 48 Months. BCPS will hire onsite literacy coaches trained to use “high quality, standards-aligned materials and continuous improvement strategies” to support teachers and accelerate literacy in 12-15 middle schools selected as Literacy Intensive Sites. Aim: Improve “8th and 9th Grade On-Track outcomes.”

BANK STREET COLLEGE: $700,000, 16 Months (Yonkers, NY) Bank Street will organize, train, and support school-based math teams and team leaders in 10 Yonkers Public Schools. Teams will analyze data to track student improvement. Aims: Increase the number of Black, Latino, and low-income students who successfully complete 8th grade math. Support Bank Street’s own data collection and analysis capacity in addition to the skills of teams and team leaders.

ED PARTNERS: $12,000,000, 61 Months (CA). California Education Partners (Ed Partners) will launch a network that will manage up to 50 secondary schools across 18 small and middle-size districts. Aims: Improve outcomes for Black, Latino and low-income students. Build the capacity of Ed Partners and these schools to improve outcomes (design, deliver, measure, learn from, and evaluate interventions).

CENTER FOR LEADERSHIP AND EDUCATIONAL EQUITY (CLEE): $560,000, 20 Months (RI) The Center will create a network that serves ten high schools in Rhode Island. CLEE will train teams of school and district leaders to be receptive to “a culture of change, identify equity gaps in 9th grade course completion, study root causes, and test interventions.” Aims: Increase the number of Black, Latino, and low-income students who complete a 9th grade college-prep math course. Induce school and district leaders to accept prescriptions and methods for change from CLEE.

CITY YEAR: $520,000, 18 Months (MILWAUKEE, WI). City Year and the “Everyone Graduates Center” at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Education will organize and train teams from 10 middle schools serving predominantly Black, Latino, and low-income students to embrace “continuous improvement by utilizing Early Warning Indicators” and leveraging “innovative human capital, including AmeriCorps members.” Aims: Enable all students to complete 8th grade “on-track to high school graduation.” Induce teams to accept and practice the “continuous improvement” methods from City Year and Johns Hopkins University’s School of Education.

COMMUNITIES FOUNDATION OF TEXAS: $503,000, 15 Months (NORTH TX ) EducateTexas will lead the regional Texas Network for School Improvement (TXNSI) Collaborative. The Collaborative will also be supported by Learning Forward (expertise in continuous improvement) and The Charles A. Dana Center (subject matter expertise in math education). Aims: Increase the math proficiency of Black, Latino and low- income students 8th grade students in 10 North Texas schools. Train leaders in those schools to ”adopt continuous improvement processes,” accelerate change, and increase outcomes.

COMMUNITY CENTER FOR EDUCATION RESULTS (CCER): $515,000, 24 Months (South King County, WA). CCER and the Puget Sound College & Career Network, will expand the College & Career Leadership Institute’s work on “systems improvements” congruent with the Gates funded “Road Map Project for South Seattle and South King County high schools. Aims: Provide support for more low-income students to have a meaningful, high-quality plan for college and career. Long term, “Eliminate opportunity gaps by race and income, and for 70 percent of the region’s students to earn a college degree or career credential by 2030.”

CORE: $16,000,000, 61 Months (CA) CORE stands for the non-governmental California Office to Reform Education, since 2013 active in steering accountability measures for large, urban districts in Fresno, Garden Grove, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento, San Francisco and Santa Ana. CORE Districts participate in a system of “data-driven continuous improvement.” Aims: Sustain the CORE-PACE (Policy Analysis for California Education) research partnership and publicize findings. Enhance the use of CORE’s data and improvement management systems to improve “9th grade on-track rates.”

HIGH TECH HIGH: $10,300,000, 60 Months (Southern California). The High Tech High Graduate School of Education will lead a College Access and Enrollment Network of 30 (high) schools. Focus is on financial access, college application process, bonding and belonging, reducing failure to enroll after admission. Aims: Increase the number of Black, Latino, and low-income students who apply, enroll, and ultimately go to a four-year college. (The High Tech High Graduate School of Education offers teacher certification and a master’s program. https://hthgse.edu/programs/teacher-residency-program/).

INSTITUTE FOR LEARNING: $7,400,000, 60 Months (Dallas, TX). Leaders from two University of Pittsburg programs will train participants from 12 secondary schools in the Dallas Independent School District in continuous improvement efforts. Aims: Increase the number of Black, Latino, English learners, and low-income students who are proficient in English Language Arts and on track at the end of 9th grade for high school graduation. Induce teams of school and district leaders to lead continuous improvement efforts. (The University of Pittsburg programs are: The Institute for Learning an outreach program of the Learning Research and Development Center and Center for Urban Education).

KIPP FOUNDATION: $499,000, 23 Months, (Multiple states). Convene and support KIPP’s college counselors in 31 charter high schools in 16 states, improving and refining how they help young people matriculate to and graduate from college. Aims: Accelerate the development of practices, tools, and approaches that predict and increase college success for their students. Keep high-achieving students from “under-matching” to colleges that are less rigorous than they are qualified to attend.

NETWORK FOR COLLEGE SUCCESS (NCS): $11,700,000, 60 Months, (Chicago, IL) NCS will train participants in 15-20 Chicago high schools to “engage in cycles of continuous improvement—testing which student, teacher, and school interventions create the school conditions that build upon the abilities, intelligence, and creativity of Chicago’s youth.” Aims: Increase the number of Black, Latino, and low-income students who are on-track to high school graduation and earning a 3.0 GPA or better at the end of 9th grade. Induce participating high schools to seek “continuous improvement” by using NCS methods.

NEW VISIONS FOR PUBLIC SCHOOLS (NVPS): $13,900,000, 60 Months (New York, NY. NVPS will work train teams in up to 67 New York City high schools (over five years) to “use data and continuous improvement strategies (design, implement, test) to help more students maintain competitive GPAs, succeed in advanced coursework, and achieve college-ready scores on state Regents exams.” Aims: Increase the number of Black, Latino, and/or low-income students who graduate from high school prepared to succeed in college. Induce participating high schools to seek “continuous improvement” by using NVPS methods.

NORTHWEST REGIONAL EDUCATIONAL SERVICE DISTRICT: $586,000, 24 Months (OR) This Service District (NWRESD) is the largest of in Oregon, serving 20 school districts. NWRESD’s Deeper Learning and Equity Network will train participants in 32 regional high schools a use a continuous improvement process focused on “deeper learning and culturally sustaining pedagogies.” Aims: Increase the number of students who are on track by the end of 9th grade to graduate. Induce participants to use the network’s method of continuous improvement.

PARTNERS IN SCHOOL INNOVATION: $499,000, 15 Months (Philadelphia, PA). Partners will convene and help middle school math teachers, instructional coaches, and principals in 10 schools to improve math performance for selected students. Aims: Help students who begin the year below grade level in math to rapidly catch up to their high-performing peers. Increase the capacity of Partners to connect schools in virtual communities and to use classroom-level data in the continuous improvement process.

SEEDING SUCCESS: $560,000, 24 Months (Memphis, TN). Seeding Success (part of the StriveTogether national network of cradle-to-career collective impact organizations) will enlist 15 Shelby County Schools (middle school feeders into high schools) for a 24-month “rapid improvement cycle process” of identifying “8th grade and 9th grade on-track outcomes, root causes of students who fall off track, and testing aligned interventions. Aims: Help more students stay on track toward college and career readiness. Induce the participating schools to engage in “rapid improvement cycles” based on Seeding Success methods.

SOUTHERN REGIONAL EDUCATION BOARD (SREB): $3,300,000, 36 Months. SREB will enlist 10 secondary schools in Birmingham, AL (Jefferson County) to increasing the proficiency rates of Black, Latino, and low-income students on 8th grade math and 9th grade Algebra 1. Aims: Improve scores indicating “math proficiency” in grade 8 and in Algebra I. Promote “improvement science and cycles” in two national networks: High Schools That Work and Making Middle Grades Work.

TEACH PLUS: $619,000, 23 Months (Chicago, IL & Los Angeles, CA). Teach Plus will use an “evidence-based Change Management Framework” from the Boston-based Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy (has deep connections to Teach Plus) to develop continuous improvement skills among the teacher leaders and principals in ten middle schools located in two cities. Aims: Increase the number of African American, Latino, and low-income students achieving proficiency in 8th grade math. Promote use of the Change Management Framework from the Rennie Center https://www.renniecenter.org/change-management

I hope this post is of use in understanding how the $92 dollars will be used to extract compliance with the Gates-favored methods of intervening in schools. It is not obvious how much of the money will actually reach schools, teachers and students. It is not yet obvious how much collatoral damage will be done by these ventures. Gates is a sucker for anything that looks like a short-term fix or formula for public schools.

A group of parents in Baltimore County was very unhappy with their high-flying Superintendent, Dallas Dance. Dance planned a huge investment in technology, and the parents didn’t see the evidence for it. They worried that the schools were investing in a pipe dream…or worse. Dance planned to spend at least $272 million so that every student would have his or her own laptop. Where he saw technological salvation, the parents saw expensive snake oil.

Dance wanted to become a national leader in introducing “personalized” (depersonalized) learning in his schools, and he spent freely for technology to make his dream come true.

Some parents in the county saw what was happening and they criticized it, again and again, in their own blog, as a massive waste of taxpayers’ money and a waste of students’ instructional time.

Dance abruptly resigned last spring, and he is now former superintendent of Baltimore County public schools. He is now under criminal investigation by the Maryland State Prosecutor’s Office.

The parent blog, written in this instance by Joanne C. Simpson, reports on Dance’s problems:

Among issues apparently under review: Dance’s “involvement with SUPES Academy,” which did business with BCPS and for which Dance consulted at the time. “In 2014, school system ethics officials ruled that Dance had violated ethics rules by taking a part time job with SUPES after the company got an $875,000 contract with the school system,” the Sun noted. For other info on SUPES and various linkages to Dance, read also this post.

Dance offered no comment to news of a current state prosecutor investigation, but this very recent video by the resigned superintendent speaks volumes.

Other details: The investigative news story on SUPES, which revealed Dance’s consulting job, was first broken in 2013 by The Chicago Reporter and then followed by the Sun. Dance agreed to drop the outside job.

Former chief of Chicago Public Schools Barbara Byrd-Bennett, once named as a favorite mentor by Dance, was among those embroiled in the SUPES scandal and convicted this year of accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in kickbacks and sentenced to 4 1/2 years in prison.

Dance, who promised not to consult again after the ethics finding on SUPES, has been cited for other ethics violations and criticized for various “appearances of conflict of interest,” as well as costly taxpayer-funded travel to numerous edtech conferences and events, among other issues. His limited liability corporation Deliberate Excellence Consulting LLC was listed as Active and “Not In Good Standing” a few months ago, as also reported in this blog—a status which remains.

Many related concerns–including promotional videos Dance did for school system vendors, such as Hewlett-Packard–were first brought up in this op-ed in April 2016.

According to revised financial disclosure forms filed “under penalty of perjury” after the last ethics findings, Dance reported no personal income from his LLC, which according to charter records was formed “to consult and partner with school systems, businesses and organizations around best practices to obtain maximum organizational outcomes.”

Dance unexpectedly announced his resignation in April, partly saying he wanted to spend more time with family. Meanwhile, a few of his post-BCPS consulting positions are no longer listed on those firms’ sites nor on Dance’s LinkedIn profile page, including “Partner, Strategos Group,” and a full-time senior vice president position he announced with MGT Consulting Group when he left the superintendent position on June 30.

Parents who watched carefully were concerned about student privacy, data mining, and balanced use of technology. They worried that Dance had gone overboard. They were right to worry.

More:

“Despite Dance’s departure, STAT [Dance’s program] is still being pursued and expanded under current Interim Superintendent Verletta White, who pressed for a nearly $4 million expansion of just two software contracts, iReady and DreamBox Math, this year (see postscript below), despite questions by school board members about the programs’ high costs and lack of objective evidence of benefits. Via the software programs, elementary school children as young as 6 watch math or English language videos, and do gaming-style lessons, or play video games as “rewards” on the devices during the school day.”

The spending on technology with no evidence of its value goes forward:

“As first reported here in The Baltimore Post: The company e.Republic (which backs the Center for Digital Education) works with over 700 companies – from “Fortune 500s to startups” – to help executives ‘power their public sector sales and marketing success.’ Among those listed: Intel, IBM, Blackboard, Microsoft, Aerohive, Apple, Samsung, Dell and Google.” Intel, IBM, Microsoft, Apple, and other companies are familiar entities at BCPS.

“Also, among a litany of mostly no-bid digital curricula contracts recently implemented at the county’s public school district: the reading/English language software program iReady, which had a $1.2 million BCPS contract spending authority expanded in July to $3.2 million for fewer than 5 years, as approved by the Board of Education and requested by interim superintendent White.
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iReady by Curriculum Associates:

Click to access 061317%20JMI-618-14%20Modification%20-%20Teaching%20Resource%20for%20English%20Language%20Arts.pdf


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https://www.bcps.org/apps/bcpscontracts/contractFiles/012015_JMI-618-14%208%20Mod%20Teach%20Resource%20English%20Language.docx
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“DreamBox Math, meanwhile, jumped nearly $2 million more to $3.2 million for just three more years.
If contacts don’t link, can copy and paste this lengthy link: http://www.boarddocs.com/mabe/bcps/Board.nsf/files/AMQQTE6AD435/$file/061317%20JNI-778-14%20Modification%20and%20Extension%20-%20Mathematics%20Supplemental%20Resources.pdf
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“Such price tags total a whopping more than $6 million for two software programs alone in a cash-strapped school system with many pressing needs.

“In the end, many would agree digital technology has a place as a modern tool of learning. But analyses are required when children’s minds and futures are involved. Consider this objective 2017 National Education Policy Center report on “blended and virtual learning,” and a recent Business Insider story on DreamBox, which also questions the tenets of the “personalized-learning” computer-based approach, and points out just how many data points are collected on children–50,000 per hour per student just by DreamBox. There’s also the widespread industry marketing campaigns and venture capitalist profit-margins behind it all.”

There is a moral to this story: Pay attention to ethics rules. Don’t seek or accept outside money from corporations who want to sell stuff or services to your district. Be satisfied with your salary or look for a different job.

There is another moral: the tech companies view the schools as a market, and they are taking taxpayers’ money because they can.

Every school board, every superintendent has a duty to review these contracts carefully and reject those that are unproven. Don’t take the word of the salesmen.

I wish that all those who appreciate the wonders of technology would frankly admit its limitations. I wish they would speak out when hucksters and naifs claim that technology will close the achievement gap between rich and poor or that learning by machine is “personalized learning.” Personalized learning is what happens when humans beings interact, face to face, when a teacher who knows you is engaged in helping you learn. An interaction with a machine is impersonalized learning.

 

Baltimore County Public Schools system has bought the hoax: under the leadership of its superintendent, Dallas Dance, the school board has agreed to invest at least $270 million so that every student will have his or her own computer. It is a decisive move towards a fully digitized schooling, with everyone wired, including 5-year-olds. Some parents are very unhappy with this decision. They would prefer to see money invested in reducing class sizes, arts programs, and capital improvements. Some worry that the evidence for the benefits of going digital does not exist. Some argue that the program does more for big business than for children. Some think the program should be pilot-tested before it is implemented across the district. Some worry about the potential health effects of a fully digital classroom.

 

One parent wrote:

 

The real overall costs of STAT are now projected at $272.1 million for the “BCPS Proposed 6 Year Instructional Digital Conversion Plan.” That’s nearly $70 million higher than previously discussed.

 

And, breaking news to most: On top of that, $63 million or more would be required every year thereafter — with 92 percent (!) going to the laptop leases alone, according to officials and budget proposal documents released in early January.

 

Every. Year.

 

That means in one decade BCPS would spend at least $630 million to lease laptops, which schools would turn over every four years, amid other costs. Ten new state-of-the art schools could be funded at that price, likely with some snazzy new tech options, too. Operating vs. Capital Expenditures aside (day-to-day vs. buildings), money is money.

 

My own view is that it is far too soon to adopt technology as the primary vehicle for education because there is no evidence that it improves learning or that it reduces achievement gaps or that it is especially beneficial to children from low-income homes. Last fall, the OECD released a study concluding that some technology use in the classroom is good, but too much technology is not. This was the conclusion: Overall, students who use computers moderately at school tend to have somewhat better learning outcomes than students who use computers rarely. But students who use computers very frequently at school do much worse, even after accounting for social background and student demographics.

 

Was the Baltimore County school board aware of that study before it committed $270 million to provide a computer for every student?

 

We saw the disaster unfold in Los Angeles when former Superintendent John Deasy decided that every student and staff member in the LAUSD should have an iPad; worse, he sold this idea as a matter of “civil rights.” Frankly, it cheapens the meaning of civil rights (the right to vote, the right to be treated the same as others, the right to equality of educational opportunity, the right to serve on a jury, etc.) when “the right to an iPad” is called a “civil right.” It would make more sense to talk about the right to a job with a decent living wage, the right to good housing, the right to medical care, and the right to sound nutrition, than to turn the ownership of an iPad into a “civil right.” As we know, the $1 billion-plus transaction turned into a fiasco when questions were raised about favoritism shown to Apple and Pearson, and the whole deal was canceled.

 

 

Many of us still remember the story in the New York Times in 2011 about the Waldorf School in Silicon Valley that has no computers; its students include the children of high-tech executives who believe their children will have plenty of time for technology in the future. Instead of working online, they are learning through physical activity, creative play, hands-on projects, and reading. While other schools in the region brag about their wired classrooms, the Waldorf school embraces a simple, retro look — blackboards with colorful chalk, bookshelves with encyclopedias, wooden desks filled with workbooks and No. 2 pencils.

 

The Baltimore County school board not only approved STAT but renewed Superintendent Dance’s contract, which will run until 2020. When he was first hired as superintendent in 2012 (at the age of 30), he needed a waiver, because he had only two years of teaching experience and state law requires three years of teaching experience for superintendents. He also ran into trouble when he became involved with SUPES Academy, the same company that had hired disgraced Chicago CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett. A local reporter wrote: Dance was heavily criticized — and admonished by the school board — for accepting a position in the company in August 2013 without informing the board. The board had approved a three-year $875,000 contract with SUPES to train personnel in December 2012. Dance ended up resigning the SUPES position in 2013.

 

Maine blogger Emily Talmage recently criticized Superintendent Dance. She wrote:

 

Meanwhile, as the corporate-driven personalized, digital learning craze sweeps the country, Dance has jumped in headfirst and is bringing his district along with him.

 

As a keynote speaker at the 2015 International Association for K-12 Online Learning, Dance called himself a “pioneer.”

 

He also said that teachers were “talking too much,” and that students should be assessed at any time.

 

“In order to personalize learning for young people, we should be able to assess students at any moment to figure out what level they’re on, what standards they’ve mastered, so they can move along the continuum,” he said….

 

 

“This is taking place in a school district that is in desperate need of improvements to infrastructure, transportation, class size reduction, and social programs, issues that have been financially pushed to the side in favor of STAT,” a teacher wrote.

 

“Personalized learning is being presented to constituents as the solution to close the equity gap in education,” said the Baltimore teacher, “[but] no input has been garnered from parents, and the expectation is that teachers will fully embrace the program without question.”

 

It would be nice if a school board asked for evidence of effectiveness before blowing away nearly $300 million on the fad of the moment. Technology will change rapidly, and BCPS will be left with obsolete machines unless they make an annual commitment to buy or lease new equipment. This is money that will not be spent on teachers, programs, and maintenance of buildings.

 

 

The Baltimore County Public Schools are embarking on a risky gamble that will put all students online. At present, there is no research base to prove the value of this expensive venture. What we can predict is two nefarious consequences: 1) the computers will be used for”embedded assessment,” so that students are tested daily or continually without knowing it. Second, the students will be data mined continually, and their personally identifiable information will be available to third parties or subject to hacking. 

A teacher sent the following expression of concern about this reckless plunge into technology:

“Our local school system, Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS), is undertaking a $270 million dollar technology initiative (once entitled the Instructional Digital Conversion, but rebranded as the catchier STAT, “Students and Teachers Accessing Tomorrow”), with the goal of setting up a one-to-one computer tablet and online learning program for its 110,000 students. The program reaches from first grade to twelfth, though the complete rollout has occurred only in the elementary grades thus far; the middle school and high school program has been slowed due to implementation issues. Its stated goal is to offer “personalized learning” for every student and to “equip every student with the critical 21st century skills to be globally competitive.” 

“As attractive as this sounds, however, there is limited evidence about the effectiveness of a system-wide one-to-one tablet program; no input has been garnered from parents, and the expectation is that teachers will fully embrace the program without question (not only were technology teachers left out of the conversation, their positions were eliminated from the BCPS system altogether). This is taking place in a school district that is in desperate need of improvements to infrastructure, transportation, class size reduction, and social programs, issues that have been financially pushed to the side in favor of STAT.

 

“A series of Baltimore County Public Schools blog posts, press releases, and promotional videos preceded the rollout of the STAT program, which officially began in August 2014 in a small number of test schools; anecdotal evidence of the benefits to students of a one-to-one computer program was emphasized throughout, and numerous “partnerships” were quickly established with educational technology companies. The school superintendent and other key administrative personnel participated in several speaking opportunities and conference appearances, often sponsored by those same technology companies; almost immediately the STAT program received praise, starting with awards from online media organizations, also backed by corporate interests. The program had been in place for less than a full school year and was still in a limited testing phase, yet was getting national and even international attention, with the superintendent traveling to a technology symposium in South Korea to discuss the implementation.

 

“While a certain level of promotion of an initiative can be expected, the close relationship between school system administrators and the technology vendors that serve the system raises questions of conflict of interest. Two vendors have produced infomercial-style videos at two of the test schools, praising the hardware and software that the school has adopted. The superintendent also sits on the advisory committee for the Education Research and Development Institute, with a mission to “provide a forum for dialogue between outstanding educational leaders and committed corporate partners,” many of which are vendors for the system. 

“Shortly before the beginning of the technology push, the superintendent also repurposed the Baltimore County Public Schools Education Foundation, a nonprofit organization that had typically handled donations to local schools from area businesses. The new mission was to focus on “system-based projects,” including the STAT program and associated curriculum. In organizing the annual “State of the Schools” event for BCPS, the Educational Foundation has received sponsorships from numerous vendors of both hardware and software for the system, including a $50,000 sponsorship from Advance Path Academics.

 

“A preliminary analysis of publically available data from the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) indicates that the test schools for the STAT program are performing below their non-STAT counterparts on the PARCC assessments; official outcome data will not be evaluated by the school system until the third year of the program, at which point many multi-year contracts for technology services will already be in place.

 

“The STAT initiative comes at a critical time of need for infrastructure and program improvements across the school system. Fifty-two county schools lack air conditioning, and district-wide closures due to excessive heat have become an issue with a school year that begins in August and ends in mid June. 

“Enrollment and class size have been steadily growing, with school construction lagging far behind. The bus transportation system suffers from too few drivers running too many routes. A rapidly rising number of impoverished students lack the simple basics of enough food (47 percent of school population is eligible for the Free and Reduced-Price Meals program). Technology, however, is being presented to constituents as the solution to close the equity gap in education and to sufficiently prepare students for college or a career. 

“Children do need to appropriately use technology as a learning tool as they move through high school and towards graduation; however, elementary and middle school students can make use of technology through shared devices. The ongoing investment of money and personnel in an unproven one-to-one computer tablet program shifts resources away from the basic necessities of comfort, safety, food, and meaningful human interaction.”