School Evaluation Summary

Rachel Boylan


VSX Demographics

VSX is a virtual school that provides online courses to students attending brick-and-mortar schools. The school is part of a larger school system made up of K-12 schools located both in the U.S. and overseas that provide educational services to dependents of the U.S. military or dependents of civilians employed by the Department of Defense.

Unfortunately, I cannot provide detailed demographic information about VSX students. The reason being, that roughly 95% of VSX students are enrolled on a part-time, temporary basis. Local brick-and-mortar schools utilize the VSX school to allow students additional course selections; therefore, most VSX students are truly enrolled in a local brick-and-mortar school and use the VSX to supplement their schedule. As such, the local school is the “gate keeper” of student demographic information.

Below is some information that can be used to get a better understanding of the student makeup at VSX:

Administrative

Intelligent ranking; 6 out of 8 Administrative filter categories are marked as Intelligent. Areas of weakness include Planning on a behavioral level and Budget on a resource/infrastructure level.

MMB Rankings: Behavioral: Intelligent; Resource/Infrastructure: Intelligent

VSX has a very detailed technology use policy in place. The technology use policy has been approved by the organization and all school within the organization utilize the policy for appropriate use of technology by students and staff.

MMB Rankings: Behavioral: Islands; Resource/Infrastructure: Intelligent 

Due to the nature of the VSX, planning typically occurs within our own school sphere, meaning planning does not usually encompass outside projects or planning efforts with other schools in the school system. The VSX’s school system has a five year cycle technology plan which is comprehensive in nature. Schools within the system create their own technology plans that focus on unique needs of the schools while adhering to the policies and procedures specified in the system’s technology plan.

MMB Rankings: Behavioral: Intelligent; Resource/Infrastructure: Integrated

The technology plan created by the school system specifies the replacement cycle for computer technologies and details the allocation of the system-wide technology budgets to individual schools. Schools create their own budgetary needs based on the allocations provided by the system-wide technology budget. Schools have the discretion to use other budgetary funds to supplement technology as needed.

MMB Rankings: Behavioral: Intelligent; Resource/Infrastructure: Intelligent

VSX, being an online school, runs almost solely through the use of electronic systems and the school is virtually paperless. All administrators and staff have access to the administrative systems used in the school; however, access to systems may differ based on role.

Curricular

Intelligent ranking; 8 out of 10 Curricular filter categories marked as Intelligent. Areas of weakness include the behavioral Assessment category and the resource/infrastructure Student Use category.

MMB Rankings: Behavioral: Intelligent; Resource/Infrastructure: Intelligent

Almost all VSX curriculum and content is presented to students electronically. Some VSX courses utilize textbooks to supplement content found in the online classroom. All students enrolled in VSX courses have access to the curriculum resources available for that course. The curriculum resources found in VSX course come in a variety of formats: audio, video, text, interactive, etc. and are meant to support student's acquisition of content knowledge.

MMB Rankings: Behavioral: Integration; Resource/Infrastructure: Intelligent

Most VSX courses offer electronic assessments. It is, however, at the teacher's discretion which method of assessment they chose and some teachers prefer off-line, paper assessments. The learning managements system (LMS) used for online courses provides a wide arrange of reporting possibilities and tools to analyze assessment data.

MMB Rankings: Behavioral: Intelligent; Resource/Infrastructure: Intelligent

All VSX courses are available online and all curriculum for courses is available online.

MMB Rankings: Behavioral: Intelligent; Resource/Infrastructure: Intelligent

Being an online school, the use of the school-supported LMS as well as the curricular and assessment tools listed therein is mandatory for VSX teacher. All teachers have access to the technology necessary to complete their assigned tasks/duties. Supplemental tools or systems, those outside the normal scope of a teacher's duties, require permission for use. If permission to those tools or systems is approved, then access is provided to the teacher.

MMB Rankings: Behavioral: Intelligent; Resource/Infrastructure: Integration

Being an online school, use of the LMS and the curricular and assessment tools listed therein is mandatory for completion of school work by the VSX student. Most VSX students have access to appropriate technologies; however, a small percentage of VSX students access courses from home and these students may or may not have appropriate technologies to complete course requirements.

Support

Island ranking; 3 out of 8 Support filter categories marked as Island, representing the largest ranking  group. Areas of strength in the Support filter include both the behavior and resource/infrastructure of the Technical & Infrastructure Support category.

MMB Rankings: Behavioral: Islands; Resource/Infrastructure: Emergent

The nature of the VSX’s overarching school system does not really allow for uniform interaction in regard to planning and implementation procedures. Instead, select groups and members are asked to assist in the creation of the planning/implementation process. Once a basic framework is created it is shared amongst a wider group of individuals. Finally, when the plan is approved by the initial group and the wider group, it is then made available to the whole. Due to the nature of our school system, few groups are represented in the initial stage of planning, with more groups being added as the implementation processes are discussed.

MMB Rankings: Behavioral: Integrated; Resource/Infrastructure: Integrated

As the planning within the overarching school system occurs from a top-down perspective, those at the top often discuss directly with administrative groups. As the VSX is the only school in the school system to offer online instruction, more time and support is provided in matters of technology planning and integration to the VSX administration.

MMB Rankings: Behavioral: Islands; Resource/Infrastructure: Emergent

Due to budget constraints, very few VSX staff members participate in technology training activities. Educational Technologists (ET) and Instructional Designers (ID) offer infrequent technology training. Training by VSX ETs and IDs is limited and not consistent.

MMB Rankings: Behavioral: Intelligent; Resource/Infrastructure: Intelligent

Staff at VSX are very comfortable reaching out for technology assistance, either to technology support staff or colleagues. The VSX staff has 24hr access to ETs and LMS administrative personnel to address issues or concerns.

Connectivity

Intelligent ranking; 5 out of 8 Connectivity filter categories marked as Intelligent. Areas of resource/infrastructure weakness are found in the Local Area Networking and Communication Systems category. Behavioral weakness is found in the District Area Networking (WAN) category.

MMB Rankings: Behavioral: Islands; Resource/Infrastructure: Integrated

The LAN in the physical location of the VSX is poorly kept up and offers limited teacher and student capabilities. Hi-speed access is available in the work environment; however, due to network safety protocols, speed is limited and often service is intermittent.

MMB Rankings: Behavioral: Islands; Resource/Infrastructure: Intelligent

A WAN is available for VSX staff to perform all duties as necessary. Hi-speed access is available in the work environment; however, limitations in location-based infrastructures cause network deficiencies that affect teacher-to-student communication worldwide.

MMB Rankings: Behavioral: Intelligent; Resource/Infrastructure: Intelligent

As an online school, access to the Internet is a must for all VSX students! All school locations within the school system have direct Internet access.

MMB Rankings: Behavioral: Intelligent; Resource/Infrastructure: Integrated

Email is the most widely used method of communication at VSX. All staff, and most students, have access to a school-supported email system. Unfortunately, students who access online courses solely from home are not provided access to the school-supported email system.

Innovation

Mixed ranking; 2 out of 4 Innovation filter categories are marked as Integrated and the other 2 out of 4 categories are marked as Intelligent. The New Technologies category is ranked as Integrated on both the behavioral and resource/infrastructure level. Whereas, the Comprehensive category is ranked as Intelligent on both the behavioral and resource/infrastructure level.

MMB Rankings: Behavioral: Integrated; Resource/Infrastructure: Integrated

Teachers at VSX are comfortable using new technology and new technology, as long as it is deemed useful, is readily accepted. If a new technology is deemed as effective or efficient, it is generally accepted and implemented by teachers at VSX.

MMB Rankings: Behavioral: Intelligent; Resource/Infrastructure: Intelligent

Staff at VSX have a wide variety of comprehensive technologies available to them. Staff use the comprehensive technologies at their disposal to improve student understanding of content knowledge.

Final Summary

Upon evaluation of VSX, I would give the school and the school system an overall ranking of Intelligent. Of the 42 categories listed on the Maturity Model Benchmarks rubric, the VSX ranked as Intelligent in 23 of them (54.76%). The school and the school system has a good technology plan and technology use policy in place. The VSX school utilizes technology for most of its processes to include communication, curriculum distribution, and assessment. The implementation of technology, both new and comprehensive, is pervasive throughout VSX and students and staff use technology as their main medium for task completion.

Where VSX and its parent school system falters is in the planning and connectivity category of the rubric and this is due in part to the sheer size of the school system. The school system spans 14 districts and encompasses over 150 schools in 4 different continents. The size and scope of the school system makes managing the system and its processes (i.e. technology) a huge undertaking; and while individual districts and schools are allowed to create their own individualized technology plans, they are still bound to the overarching constraints (budget, replacement cycle, etc.) set in place by the system’s technology plan.