A Report on the Progress of iRock

When the Administration presented their plan for iRock on December 14, 2012, members of the Rock Hill 3 School Board had a number of questions.  In November 2012 the Board had explicitly set as our highest priority a focus on improving student performance in academics and on related indicators such as high school graduation.  Several members felt the original iRock plan gave insufficient attention to these academic priorities, giving scant focus to measuring the impact of the iPad program on academic achievement. There also seemed little attention to the professional development and support for teachers that such an implied change in instructional methods would need for success.

Other concerns were an apparent failure to secure adequate buy-in from teachers, parents, or the community nor, seemingly, any awareness that such buy-in was a necessity.  A remaining difficulty was the lack of a sustainable plan for financing the purchase and maintenance of the physical hardware, required networking infrastructure enhancements, and purchase of software and applications for the new approach.

In response to these questions Critique committees were set up by the Administration consisting of a Board member, teachers, parents, and/or community representatives.  Over the past weeks groups looking at Evaluation, Learning, Teachers/Parents, Community, and Finances have met one or more times.

Last Monday, February 11, the chairs of those Critique Committees reported to the Board and Administration.  To demonstrate the nature and variety of the concerns presented the table below shows those raised independently by two or more groups.  Click here  for the full reports from most committees (at the bottom of the link page).   For a transcript of issues raised by the Evaluation Critique Committee on which I sat click here.

The list below reports occurrences of the same concerns raised independently by two or more of the five Critique Committees.

Concerns Raised by Multiple Committees From Which Committees
How will access to inappropriate sites be monitored? How will misuse of devices be prevented? Community, Teachers, Evaluation, Finances
What data will be collected to determine if the devices are helping our students learn more successfully? How often will data be collected and how will it be shared with the community? Community, Teachers, Evaluation
How will we provide professional development that allow teachers to:
(1) Work together to write lessons and share successful methods?
(2) Collaborate by grade/subject across district to share ideas/work?
(3)Provide Media Specialists professional development needed for their new role?
Evaluation, Learning, Teachers
Will each school have full time tech support?  This help is vital. Evaluation, Learning, Teachers
Are flexible financing options possible for a proposed $85 fees? Evaluation, Financing, Teachers
How will students whose homes lack wireless internet access not be left out? Evaluation, Finance, Teachers
Will teachers be asked to pay for expensive applications? Evaluation, Teachers
Will increases in class sizes be forced to fund devices? Evaluation, Teachers
Are iPads appropriate for preschool and primary grades? Community, Evaluation
Will a robust computer network infrastructure be ready? Evaluation, Teachers
What about parents who are not supportive? Evaluation, Teachers
What about teachers who do not wish to change? Learning, Teachers

The Board’s intent is that these and other questions/concerns in the committee deliberations go back to the Administration for revision of the plan.  The Administration will submit revisions to the appropriate Critique Committees.  After approval by these groups the Board will take up consideration of the revised iRock plan.

Though this report is my own, I believe the Board is very desirous for the iRock initiative to be successful.  Being successful means that we will enjoy increased support from our community, growth in professional skills and self-esteem for our teachers, and most important of all that iRock will result in increased academic learning for our students.

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