School Summary Evaluation:  “Chuck Darwin Elementary”

Joshua C. Smith

Introduction to Educational Technology: EDTECH 501

Dr. Barbara Schroeder

November 20, 2011

Demographics

Chuck Darwin Elementary is a large suburban, public school in Tarrant County in the state of Texas.  It is a currently operational, regular school within the Smith Independent School District.  As of the 2010-2011 school year, Chuck Darwin Elementary had a total student enrollment of 720 students from kindergarten to 4th grade and a student-to-teacher ratio of 16:1.

Specifically, during the 2010-2011 school year; Chuck Darwin Elementary’s enrollment characteristics were consistent with previous years.  The enrollment by grade was 78 students enrolled in kindergarten, 144 students enrolled in 1st grade, 170 students enrolled in 2nd grade, 159 students enrolled in 3rd grade, and 169 students enrolled in 4th grade.  Additionally, the enrollment characteristics were also broken down by race and gender.  The race breakdown saw 629 White students, 54 Asian/Pacific Islander students, 14 Black students, 14 American Indian/Alaskan students, and 9 Hispanic students.  Furthermore, the gender breakdown was 381 male students and 339 female students.

Maturity Model Benchmarks

Administrative Filter

Overall Score:

        Behavioral:  Integrated

        Resource/Infrastructure:  Integrated

        At Chuck Darwin Elementary, the overall score for the administrative filter is “Integrated” for both the behavior and resource/infrastructure areas.  In short, the administration and staff exhibit excellent qualities in both their behavior and resource acquisition traits.  This is seen in particularly strong areas of policy and administration information.  Furthermore, their planning skills also appear very strong with regards to technology.  Unfortunately, the only setback for making this area quickly “Intelligent” is the resources allocated to budgeting.  In essence, most of the technology growth at the school will be stunted unless more resources are allocated to the acceptance and implementation of new technology.

Policy

        Behavioral:  Integrated

        Resource/Infrastructure:  Intelligent

        Formal technology use is embraced in every department at Chuck Darwin Elementary.  Unfortunately, it is not embraced at all levels of the school.  In short, the kindergarten level has resisted adopting most of the technology use policies.  In essence, they are fearful of changing the traditional methods of teaching because of the foundational nature of kindergarten.  Nevertheless, a comprehensive policy exists and outlines technology use and integration throughout the entire school district.  This policy is extensive, and it is continually approved by the Smith Independent School District.

Planning

        Behavioral:  Integrated

        Resource/Infrastructure:  Integrated

        For the last 3 years, technology use planning has become an integral part of Chuck Darwin Elementary’s planning efforts.  The school itself offers a comprehensive plan on the present use of technology at the school and its future use.  This plan provides details for every department and grade level.  The technology use plan is currently only for Chuck Darwin Elementary and is reviewed informally by Chuck Darwin Elementary’s administrative staff.

Budget

        Behavioral:  Islands

        Resource/Infrastructure:  Integrated

This past year saw a big step towards more integrated technology use at Chuck Darwin Elementary.  In short, technology use finally became a priority line item within the school’s budget.  Unfortunately, even with a higher priority status, technology use at Chuck Darwin Elementary still has a long way to go.  Essentially, even though it is now a part of the budget, it is still ranked low as far as allocated resources.  In other words, the budget or money allocated to technology is still relatively low because of statewide budget cuts.  Thus, the relatively low budget essentially makes it hard to accomplish many of the school’s technology needs.        

Administrative Information

        Behavioral:  Intelligent

        Resource/Infrastructure:  Intelligent

Technology use in administrative systems are extremely advanced within Chuck Darwin Elementary.  In fact, all previous systems are now paperless.  In short, Chuck Darwin Elementary uses RenWeb School Management Software for all internal staff and support services.  Essentially, RenWeb is used for sharing data among administration and the faculty on students, courses, policies, and procedures.  This is accomplished by providing user names and passwords for each administrative or faculty member.  Furthermore, it provides an easy way to contact internal support regarding any problems that arise.  Additionally, Chuck Darwin Elementary also uses Microsoft Outlook for internal e-mail and scheduling.  All in all, Chuck Darwin Elementary is extremely effective in the category of Administrative Information.  

Curricular Filter

Overall Score:

        Behavioral:  Islands

        Resource/Infrastructure:  Islands

        Unlike the administrative filter, the curricular filter at Chuck Darwin Elementary is less advanced.  In short, both the overall behavior and overall resource/infrastructure areas are classified in the “Islands” stage.  This classification stems from the failure to utilize present technologies by the teachers and students, and the fear or lack of knowledge of future technologies or techniques.  Essentially, this lack of curriculum integration can be centered around two deciding factors.  One is the low budget for technology use and training, and the other is the fear of change.  In other words, many teachers and students fear the new technologies because they do not understand how to use them.

Electronic Information

        Behavioral:  Islands

        Resource/Infrastructure:  Integrated

        At Chuck Darwin Elementary, there are a variety of comprehensive resources that are available to most staff and students.  The exceptions are the availability to kindergarten students and students without adult supervision.  Additionally, although there are in-depth and diverse resources available; they are not utilized enough at this point to classify them as fully adopted.  In short, many teachers and students still use traditional resources for the majority of their tasks and activities.

Assessment

        Behavioral:  Islands

        Resource/Infrastructure:  Islands

        As with many of the technology resources at Chuck Darwin Elementary, technological assessments are still underused and not fully understood.  In short, most teachers still resort to traditional assessment techniques because of lack of training or because of misunderstandings about the advantages and disadvantages of a particular assessment technology.  Essentially, there are only a few teachers at Chuck Darwin Elementary that use technology assessment tools.  Furthermore, most of these technology assessments are only used for self-assessment purposes.

Curriculum Integration

        Behavioral:  Islands

        Resource/Infrastructure:  Islands

        After the technology use budget was limited this year, Chuck Darwin Elementary’s related resources were limited to increasing technology integration to only two departments, science and English.  In short, this was determined after the administration reviewed each department’s need based on the current curriculum within each department.  Nevertheless, the science and English departments do utilize various technologies in their daily curriculum, and they have become somewhat dependent on the technology’s integration.

Teacher Use

        Behavioral:  Islands

        Resource/Infrastructure:  Islands

        Technology use among teachers at Chuck Darwin Elementary is fairly regular.  Specifically, teachers utilize administrative information technologies the most.  These technologies are followed by limited curriculum technologies.  Essentially, teachers often use technology to develop curriculum, but they often fail to integrate it into the lesson itself.  In short, I believe the reluctance to adopt technologies into the curriculum stems from the lack of technology resources available to all departments.

Student Use

        Behavioral:  Integrated

        Resource/Infrastructure:  Intelligent

        Like most modern day students, Chuck Darwin Elementary students utilize technology on a regular basis.  In short, most Chuck Darwin Elementary students use word processors, the Internet, and other kid friendly software to complete various aspects of their homework throughout the entire school year  This is made possible by allowing all students to have consistent and regular access to computers and technologies in the classrooms, the library, and at home.  Nevertheless, student use of these technologies does not have any bearing on the outcome or completion of school related assignments.  In other words, they can decide to use them or not to use them.

Support Filter

Overall Score:

        Behavioral:  Integrated

        Resource/Infrastructure:  Integrated

        Fortunately, for Chuck Darwin Elementary, the school makes up for its rather lackluster curriculum integration by a strong showing in the support filter.  From the top down, Chuck Darwin Elementary’s stakeholders, administration, and faculty are all aware of the necessity for strong technological support.  Their open-armed attitude towards technology can be seen in a variety of areas.  In short, their stakeholders are constantly involved, their teachers are continually training, and their administration is always open to hear new thoughts on present and existing technologies.  All in all, the support filter seems well on its way towards around-the-board “Intelligent” classifications.

Stakeholder Involvement

        Behavioral:  Integrated

        Resource/Infrastructure:  Integrated

        At Chuck Darwin Elementary, all parties directly related to Chuck Darwin Elementary are involved in the planning and implementation process.  Although the administration is the only party involved in reviewing each technology plan, the entire faculty, staff, student body, and local taxpaying community is involved and represented in developing ideas for the technology use process.  Typically, this involvement is exercised in the form of open forums on technology integration during select evenings on school campus.  In the end, this type of open atmosphere fosters innovation and creativity in technology integration.

Administrative Support

        Behavioral:  Integrated

        Resource/Infrastructure:  Integrated

        Chuck Darwin Elementary’s administration prides itself on providing continual support to teachers, educators, and students on the subject of technology integration.  They have a well-known open door policy on suggestions and issues in regards to present technology or future technology options.  Furthermore, the administration consistently sets aside time during staff meetings to talk about the current technology state of the school.  In these meetings, they full address the planning and implementation options of technology use at Chuck Darwin Elementary.

Training

        Behavioral:  Intelligent

        Resource/Infrastructure:  Integrated

        Continual training on present and future technologies are a key part of Chuck Darwin Elementary’s success.  In short, each teach or educator is required to log a certain amount of hours training or “continuing education” each year.  Additionally, a large part of those hours must be devoted to technology programs existent in the school.  Unfortunately, the one downfall to the training existent in the school is the budget.  While many teachers attend seminars, conferences, and forums put on by the district, there is still only informal training options existent within the school itself.

Technical and Infrastructure Support

        Behavioral:  Islands

        Resource/Infrastructure:  Islands

        The infrastructure for technical support at Chuck Darwin Elementary is really lacking.  In short, Chuck Darwin still uses many dated forms of technical support.  Consequently, these dated methods deter most teachers from seeking help when they need it, and, in turn, the technology is not used or suffers.  Specifically, Chuck Darwin Elementary does not have an IT technician on site, and mostly relies on informal, teacher-assisted support.

Connectivity Filter

Overall Score:

        Behavioral:  Islands

        Resource/Infrastructure:  Integrated

        The connectivity filter at Chuck Darwin Elementary is the only one of Maturity Model Benchmarks that seem to have a behavior section at odds with the resource/infrastructure area.  In short, the behavior area is classified as being in the “Islands” stage while the resource/infrastructure area is identified as being in the “Integrated” stage.  Basically, the reason for this difference is simple.  Although Chuck Darwin Elementary has  an outstanding network infrastructure within the school and district, the school itself fails to take advantage of the technology at their disposal.  This attitude is largely based on lack of knowledge and fear of the technology itself.  Thus, to keep this filter from falling even further behind, Chuck Darwin Elementary needs to devote more time to integrating more technology into the curriculum, to training its staff on technology use, and to setting up barriers such as firewalls to keep students from accessing unwanted materials.

Local Area Networking

        Behavioral:  Emergent

        Resource/Infrastructure:  Integrated

        Unfortunately, the Local Area Network at Chuck Darwin Elementary is yet another example of technology resources being squandered because of lack of knowledge or understanding by the faculty, administration, or both.  Essentially, the entire campus of Chuck Darwin Elementary is wired for broadband and is networked together for optimal use and performance.  Nevertheless, the staff and students rarely use the network because of lack of knowledge and rules preventing their use respectively.  In short, these rules and decisions are mostly based on unfounded fears of students accessing inappropriate materials.  Thus, it has spawned little or no use of the network where data is used sparingly and print sharing is king.

District Area Networking  (WAN)

        Behavioral:  Islands

        Resource/Infrastructure:  Integrated

        Chuck Darwin Elementary educators use the District Area Network in very traditional and expected ways.  Basically, they use the RenWeb system to search databases, read memos, and make simple requests.  Ironically, although Chuck Darwin Elementary is capable of using the District Area Networking for more than simple data, the school never uses the technology.  This, of course, is in spite of the fact that the district has dedicated high speed lines to facilitate more data-intensive services

Internet Access

        Behavioral:  Emergent

        Resource/Infrastructure:  Intelligent

        A pattern is being formed here.  Like other connectivity categories,  Chuck Darwin Elementary is lacking in Internet Access but not for lack of resources.  In fact, as I previously stated, Chuck Darwin has broadband access throughout the entire campus with dedicated lines connected directly to the District Area Network.  Again, infrastructure is not the problem.  In short, the major problem with Internet Access at Chuck Darwin Elementary is the failure on the administration and staff to see why it is important and relevant.  In other words, because they do not see the Internet as much more than an entertainment portal, they do not allow students access, and, even more tragic, they do not integrate its resources into their classroom curriculum.

Communication Systems

        Behavioral:  Intelligent

        Resource/Infrastructure:  Emergent

        Chuck Darwin Elementary relies heavily on its e-mail system for communication.  As I said before, Microsoft Outlook is used by most staff members to communicate with parents, the district, and each other.  Nevertheless, because of the students age, Chuck Darwin Elementary does not offer e-mail to its students.  In this particular instance, I agree with its decision.  For younger children, communication directly with parents is a sufficient way to keep students abreast of important matters.

Innovation Filter

Overall Score:

        Behavioral:  Islands

        Resource/Infrastructure:  Islands

        As I stated previously, Chuck Darwin Elementary needs to spend more time on training and teaching educators about the benefits of using modern technology, and the innovation filter is no different.  In short, I believe the school likes to embrace new technology for the appearance of “keeping up with the Joneses,” but they fail to understand or implement the technology consistently on a regular basis.  Essentially, as I have also mentioned before, I believe this approach is rooted in a fear of change.  In other words, the old “if it ain’t broke then why fix it” mentality is too prevalent to allow any new technologies or methods to succeed.  Additionally, this outlook could also be a victim of the school becoming so focused on what is required to teach for state testing purposes.  Either way, the overall adoption attitude of the school must change if innovation for students is to continue at Chuck Darwin Elementary.  

New Technologies

        Behavioral:  Islands

        Resource/Infrastructure:  Islands

        There is an odd paradox at Chuck Darwin Elementary.  While most teachers eagerly accept the idea of new technologies, few teachers implement them into their own classroom, and, even fewer, experiment with them.  In other words, many teachers like the idea of having the new technologies at their disposal, but most lack the confidence needed in using them on a regular basis.  Thus, most approve votes on new technologies, but few actually integrate them.  Recently, at staff meetings, there has been some talk about this very subject, and it was decided that more training was need so that teacher would actually utilize the technology tools Chuck Darwin had budgeted for over the past few years.

Comprehensive Technologies

        Behavioral:  Islands

        Resource/Infrastructure:  Islands

        Although Chuck Darwin Elementary has made some significant steps in technology over the last few years, most teacher still only utilize one or two types of the available technology.  For example, most teachers only use the scanning and printing features existent on our network and some type of visual aid like PowerPoint or DVD players in the classroom.  All in all, they really fail to use more advanced technologies and techniques within their classrooms.  In short, there is a huge need for improvement of the utilization and implementation of the available technologies at Chuck Darwin Elementary.

        

Conclusion

Final Score

        Behavioral:  Islands

        Resource/Infrastructure:  Integrated

        Overall, I would classify Chuck Darwin Elementary’s behavior as “Islands.”  In short, their are a good number of resources available at Chuck Darwin Elementary.   For example, computers are available to most of the staff and some children in older grade levels.  Additionally, there are formal plans and policies in place for technology use, excellent support systems for administrative and technical support, budgetary visibility, and a secure broadband network infrastructure.  However, where Chuck Darwin Elementary falters is their curriculum integration and training.  Essentially, despite low allocated resources to technology itself, Chuck Darwin Elementary has already purchased a variety of technological tools that could aid their classroom curriculum.  Unfortunately, the problem exists in the fear of new technology and in the training of its teachers.  In fact, the reason why the budget for technology is currently low is because the administration fails to see how their past technology purchases benefit the school.  In short, this attitude stems from the fact that most of the new technologies are never used because of lack of training or understanding.  In other words, because the teachers do not understand how to use the new technology and the benefits the technology brings, they steer clear of using it and rely on traditional teaching methods.  Thus, to continue to grow with technology, Chuck Darwin Elementary must provide better training and enforce policies and procedures already laid out for technology use.

Lastly, I would categorize Chuck Darwin Elementary’s resource and infrastructure as being in the “Integrated” stage.  In short, all of the resources for technology are already in place.  In other words, Chuck Darwin Elementary has sufficient computers, software programs, audio-visual aids, mobile devices, local area network broadband connectivity, district area network broadband connectivity, support services, and a fully functional database and intranet system.  Unfortunately, as I have stated before, most of these technologies sit untouched or unused to their full potential because of uneasiness by the administration and faculty.  It is almost as Chuck Darwin Elementary has new technologies for appearances only.  Thus, while Chuck Darwin Elementary’s infrastructure is currently at the “Integrated” stage; it will not stay there very long because of the continual change of technology.  Specifically, Chuck Darwin Elementary’s budget will continue to get smaller for technology and their once, brand-new technology tools will become out-of-date.  In the end, there will be no budget to purchase new technologies and the school will fall further behind in technology literacy.