A Winner on All Fronts

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This year’s Charp Award goes to a district whose innovativetechnological efforts touch every aspect of its operation.

Geoffrey H. FletcherAT THE NATIONAL Educational Computing Conference in Atlanta later this month, the International Society for Technology in Education and T.H.E. Journal will present the 2007 Sylvia Charp Award for District Innovation in Technology to Louisiana’s Calcasieu Parish School System. I truly enjoy participating in the judging for this award, which was established to honor the late Sylvia Charp, T.H.E.’s first editor-in-chief. My professional life is renewed by reading about the phenomenal things that districts are doing with technology all across the country, and in some years our entrants come from around the world. Our previous recipients—Irving Independent School District in Texas, Kiel Area School District in Wisconsin, and Niles Township High School District 219 in Illinois—displayed some of the most unique and effective uses of technologyyou can find. Calcasieu is no different.

The award, as the name says, is for innovation, and Calcasieu’s innovative work touches everything in the district, from student and financial information systems, to the cafeteria, to the bus system, and into the classroom and the home. Particularly impressive to the judges were Calcasieu’s efforts to train administrators in a variety of ways to help them do all aspects of their jobs. For example, principals use a district-developed online assessment tool to help them evaluate their own expertise as well as that of their staff of teachers, and to develop professional growth plans based on that assessment. Also, administrators are taught to use handhelds as a tool to collect instructional data.

Calcasieu teachers have many options for professional development, including summer technology classes; job-embedded professional learning; courses for teacher candidates and student teachers from local McNeese State University; and a targeted program for specific grade levels and subject areas that includes a new computer, printer, and software for each teacher in the program. The district also measures the proficiency of its administrators, teachers, and students against ISTE’S National Educational Technology Standards.

All this effort bears results. For example, consider one of Calcasieu’s highpoverty elementary schools, where the district established an after-school program aligning online technology resources with specific student needs identified through multiple assessment analyses. Last year the school was recognized as one of the leading campuses in Louisiana for its work in closing the achievement gap among all its student groups, performing above the state average in all school performance categories, and successfully meeting AYP.

I have touched on just a few of the district’s many innovative technology efforts, but I must mention the work of the Calcasieu technology staff to keep the district functioning during the evacuation after the onset of Hurricane Rita. By going beyond a disaster recovery plan and personally transporting servers and other technology out of harm’s way, Calcasieu’s technology staff demonstrated the innovative spirit and dogged dedication that Sylvia Charp lived by. She would be proud to have Calcasieu receive this award in her name.

-Geoffrey H. Fletcher, Editorial director

This article originally appeared in the 06/01/2007 issue of THE Journal.

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