Challenge: Administrators sought to provide more experiential learning opportunities because graduates were declaring college majors with no experience within the associated career fields. “Discovering what you don’t like is just as important as discovering what you do like,” says Brent Wise, director of technology and strategic initiatives.
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Challenge: After launching a districtwide 1-to-1 Chromebook initiative, Meriden Public Schools learned that younger children didn’t know how to use this new technology—but older students did.
Challenge: The need for an evidence-based language acquisition program grew as the population of English language learners increased to 25 percent.
Challenge: Mount Vernon City School District, an urban system on New York City’s northern border, has suffered through years of academic and structural neglect, causing low graduation rates disparities in access to learning. High illiteracy, suspensions and violence were also pervasive.
Challenge: A rapidly growing district with little time for professional development had a number of teachers with one to three years of experience. Some lacked content knowledge and pedagogy to teach to standards. Veteran teachers also struggled with the shift to instruction that requires students to learn more critical thinking and analysis.
Challenge: Owsley County Schools, located in the nation’s third-poorest county, has struggled with declines in income, population and employment. Just 17 percent of county residents age 25 and over have a bachelor’s degree or higher. Residents also rank in the bottom 25 percent nationally for lifespan.
Challenge: Kintnersville, Pennsylvania, needed more medical professionals. Palisades School District wanted to teach high schoolers about various medical careers to encourage them to pursue employment locally.
Challenge: Students have a responsibility to positively impact global society. Educators must therefore provide authentic and innovative learning experiences that engage students and that promote success in a technology-driven world.
Challenge: Pomona USD serves 24,250 students; 85 percent live in poverty, 34 percent have been identified as ELLs and 11.6 percent require special ed. Summer programs were needed for all these demographics.
Challenge: Rockdale County Public Schools wanted to add professional learning time for teachers and expand learning options for students, particularly on inclement weather days.
Challenge: Administrators wanted everyone in the 19-school district following a central vision that would drive instructional initiatives, foster personalized professional development and focus on data-driven decision-making.
Challenge: Salt River Schools—a small system operating on a rural Native American reservation of 11,000 people—faced high turnover, including churning through four superintendents in four years and more than 10 principals in a decade. The instability created uncertainty and led to a decline in enrollment.
Challenge: The School District of Turtle Lake had a shop class where students worked with wood, small engines and welding machines, but it suffered from low enrollment. District officials realized grant funds and new community business partners would improve participation.
Challenge: Scottsbluff’s graduation rate was barely 71 percent in 2011 and only 74 percent in 2012. The free- and reduced-price lunch rate has risen to 63 percent, while crime, drug use and child abuse continue to challenge the area. Mobility among residents means the community struggles to maintain its current population while schools face increased needs from English language learners.
Challenge: A study of local employer needs indicated a shortage of middle-skill workers in manufacturing and health care, while a local education needs assessment called for educating more students about viable careers.
Challenge: A senior-level engineering course at The Science Academy of South Texas (a regional magnet school) called for students to research and develop projects in order to use cumulative knowledge and skills. However, student motivation and accountability were lacking.
Challenge: Several of the district’s communities are connected by only a boat or float plane, and only one has a grocery store. Fresh produce is hard to come by and expensive, so getting nutritious food to students is difficult.
Challenge: St. Lucie Public Schools ranked near the bottom of 67 Florida school districts in overall performance and graduation rate. Administrators found the available data too general and cumbersome to create actionable interventions.
Challenge: The Florida Department of Education and CareerSource Florida created opportunities for high school students to earn nationally recognized industry credentials in an effort to build a workforce-ready population across the state.
Challenge: Topeka Public Schools has a high rate of at-risk students, with more than 70 percent receiving free- or reduced-price lunch. Statewide funding cuts have limited resources for food, clothing and mental health care.