School Committee Discusses Technology Plan

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The School Committee heared technology recommendations from Ashoke Ghosh, Technology Director for the Hopkinton School District.

Mr. Ghosh began by saying that technology has changed the face of teaching; previously, he said, it was more teacher focused, but now schools are becoming student-centered environments. He then discussed the strides that the Hopkinton school district has made so far in getting the schools aligned with the Strategic Plan Action Steps. Some of the initiatives met so far include piloting blended online and hybrid courses, piloting a 1:1 program in grade 9, and assessing technology skills in grade 8. Ghosh said they have also met many security goals, including archiving and securing email. Pointing to surveys of teachers and staff, Ghosh looked at where teachers were satisfied and where they were struggling or unhappy with the technology available. He then showed the board past and future technology budgets to explain where the district was headed in terms of monetarily meeting the technology needs for Hopkinton.

Ghosh noted that as of now, the district is not meeting the goal of 90% of teachers using technology every day with their students. He said it was a combination of lack of resources and lack of training that contributed to this failure. He also showed that the goals of "at least 90% of eighth grade students show proficiency in all MA Technology and Literary Standards and Expectations for Grade 8" and "At least 100% of teachers are working on meeting the proficiency level in technology, and by the school year 2014-2015, 90% of teachers will have mastered 90% of the skills in the TSAT".

The five goal areas for the next year, Ghosh said, were

1. Effective school leadership
2. Aligned curriculum
3. Effective Instruction
4. Student assessment
5. Leadership, Governance, and Communication

Ghosh stressed that these goals were aligned with the DESE benchmarks set by the state.

Ghosh's presentation then moved on to the initiatives for the 2014-2015 school year. Though there were many goals, he said, his main objectives are to:

1. Create a technology task force to evaluate current curriculum database
2. Purchase 150 Chromebooks for 8th grade students
3. Purchase 240 iPads for the elementary schools
4. Create technology task force to evaluate current assessment database

He also laid out the profssional development goals for FY15, pointing to more teacher training and discussion with teachers to best help them meet the goals. Dr. Cathy MacLeod stressed that this was not a watchdog effort, but rather a chance to communicate intimately with teachers so they could feel comfortable expressing when and where they were struggling.

The committee then asked a series of questions about the direction the school district was headed in, mostly about the influx of new technology like iPads and Chromebooks. They expressed concern over the durability and life cycles of these new devices. They also contemplated new initiatives that would have to go along with this new technology, like requiring young children to take typing courses.
Mr. Ghosh and Dr. MacLeod assured the committee that these measures would be best, at least in the forseeable future, for the children of Hopkinton to excel with today's technology.

The next school committee meeting will be held Monday, July 14th, at HCAM studios.