Here & Now

Floydada ISD Named Winner of 2010 Sylvia Charp Award

The small West Texas district’s 1-to-1 computing program is helping to put an increasing number of its students on the path to college.

T.H.E. Journal and the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) have named Floydada Independent School District (FISD) the 2010 winner of the Sylvia Charp Award for districtwide innovation in technology. This small, rural West Texas district, with 85 percent of its student population coming from poor socioeconomic backgrounds, has used technology not only to increase student achievement substantially, but also to enroll many of its students in college courses prior to graduation.

Six years ago, FISD used state grant funding to launch a 1-to-1 pilot project in its junior high school. While the grant provided the initial funding, the district has shown great resourcefulness in gathering and redirecting funds to expand the program into its high school and elementary school and generate a constant revenue stream to maintain it.

To support the 1-to-1 program, Floydada installed wireless technology, multiple T1 lines, and fiber-optic cables throughout its schools. The technology has helped virtually all Floydada seniors take at least one college course via distance learning, in spite of the nearest community college being 70 miles away. The district is also committed to evaluation and continuous improvement, requiring all teachers to attend a minimum of three days of technology training each year and also to do walk-throughs of their colleagues’ classrooms and observe examples of technology usage they can learn from.

The district’s efforts are making a demonstrable impact. Between 2004 and 2008, passing rates for junior high and high school students on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) showed double-digit increases in 18 of 19 areas. The growth was most pronounced in math, where passing rates went up 52 percent at the exit level and 44 percent among 10th-graders. Other subject areas also fared well. The number of students who passed the English language arts portion of the exam jumped 30 percent at both the exit and 10th-grade levels, while the district saw a 20 percent overall rise in social studies proficiency. And in the last four years, Floydada students tripled the number of college courses they’ve taken while still enrolled at the high school. In his Charp award application, Jerry Vaughn, the district superintendent, wrote, “This would not have been possible to accomplish without the 1-to-1 environment that has been implemented and sustained by FISD.”

The district will be honored at ISTE 2010, the organization’s annual technology conference, taking place June 27-30 in Denver. Floydada is also receiving money toward registration, travel, and housing for two of its representatives to attend the event.

This article originally appeared in the May 2010 issue of THE Journal.

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