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Kansas School District Implements Digital Literacy Program

One Kansas school district has deployed a digital literacy program for its middle and high school students as it gears up for the implementation of Common Core State Standards.

For the past eight years, all students in El Dorado Public Schools have been using electronic course materials. The district has only purchased one set of traditional textbooks in that time period. Taking digital one step further, the district decided last spring to implement Pearson's Prentice Hall Literature Common Core Edition in preparation for Common Core State Standards testing, which will begin in the 2014-2015 school year.

Pearson's Prentice Hall Literature Common Core Edition provides students with personalized online lessons in reading, writing, speaking and listening, and language skills based on his or her learning level. The Common Core program analyzes student progress, identifies areas for remediation with embedded assessments, and creates a variety of reports for teachers.

"For me, it's been a really easy transition from our past to our future with Prentice Hall Literature," said Julie Jensen, curriculum director. "There's so much to utilize for our students' benefit, which is what our teachers wanted when they voted on a new literature program. This was the perfect match for our district needs."

Pearson's Prentice Hall Literature Common Core utilizes a variety of digital methods, including e-texts (online books), apps, and interactive lessons.

"It's always a challenge to bring along low-socioeconomic students, who make up 57 percent of our student population, because they are at risk of falling behind their peers," said Jensen. "That's why one of our district-wide goals is to reduce gaps between the 'haves' and the 'have-nots' with technology. And, we've seen it work. There's real value to implementing digital resources in our classrooms."

The school district is also using Prentice Hall Writing Coach, a writing and grammar program for middle and high school students. It provides personalized instruction with a digital writing coach, which gives students feedback on essays and other writing projects.

El Dorado Public Schools serves students who live in the city of El Dorado and Butler County. It has 565 students enrolled in high school, 447 in middle school, and 979 in elementary school. The district has received the Apple Distinguished Award three years in a row, which recognizes leadership in educational technology. It has also received a $250,000 grant for its 1:1 digital learning initiative at the middle school, and $12,000 in funding for expansion of its distance learning program and iPod labs at the elementary schools.

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About the Author

Tim Sohn is a 10-year veteran of the news business, having served in capacities from reporter to editor-in-chief of a variety of publications including Web sites, daily and weekly newspapers, consumer and trade magazines, and wire services. He can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @editortim.