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Learning thrives in Districts of Distinction

More than 60 districts honored for innovative instruction that boosts achievement
An online learning program in Putnam County Schools in Tennessee has cut the need for credit recovery by 50 percent over the past three years, and the graduation rate rose from 88 percent in 2013 to 92 percent last year.
An online learning program in Putnam County Schools in Tennessee has cut the need for credit recovery by 50 percent over the past three years, and the graduation rate rose from 88 percent in 2013 to 92 percent last year.

An elementary school writing program, a comprehensive fitness regimen and vigorous college and career preparedness in all grades exemplify innovation. Such initiatives earned honors for 62 school systems in District Administration’s tri-annual Districts of Distinction awards program. In the first round of 2015, the honorees were selected among 133 nominations in 21 states.

In Pennsylvania, The School District of Lancaster created an academy to engage quiet and uninvolved parents. A weekly series of workshops for families—including those of Spanish, Nepali, French, Arabic and African descent—has become so popular that local agencies, universities and community organizations want to be part of each event.

Urban high school students in Tennessee are learning in the smaller, personalized environments offered by The Academies of Nashville. The Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools comprises magnet schools and partnerships with businesses in a rigorous interdisciplinary curriculum designed to teach students to solve real-world problems.

The Howard-Winneshiek Community School District in Iowa embedded technology extensively into instruction, and also used social media to break down classroom silos and connect students to their peers around the world. Almost two years ago, all students were issued digital learning devices, including tablets and laptops

And at Compton USD in California, elementary students are writing—a lot. Grammar has been integrated into all lessons and students focus on using vivid verbs and precise nouns, instead of “dead words,” in speech and writing.

DA’s team of editors reviewed submitted projects. Nominees were ranked on the clarity of a district’s challenge, how innovative or homegrown the solution was, and how strong the results were in terms of data and newsworthiness.

The honored programs were also selected based on replicability to inspire other administrators to create effective solutions for their own challenges.

Readers can learn more about all of the Districts of Distinction by perusing the following profiles and by visiting the links listed with each honoree.

For more information about Districts of Distinction, including how to apply and a list of all honorees, visit www.districtadministration.com/dod.