Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Final report of Smart Schools Commission released
ALBANY – The final report from the Smart Schools Commission, an advisory board established by the Governor to gather information on strategies for how schools can most effectively invest proceeds from the proposed $2 billion Smart Schools Bond, was released on Monday. The Commission's findings focus on expanding robust broadband and wireless connectivity for schools and communities across New York to support a technology-enhanced learning environment. The $2 billion Smart Schools Bond Act Referendum will be put to voters on November 4 in the form of Proposal #3. Governor Cuomo received the report today after touring Mineola Middle School, a public school already integrating technology into its curriculum.
"As technology continues to shape the world we live in, it is imperative that we utilize its capacity to strengthen the learning environment for our students and bring our schools into the 21st century," Governor Andrew Cuomo said. "That's what the Smart Schools Commission is all about – identifying the best practices and strategies to transform New York's schools into modern centers of learning that are fully equipped for the opportunities of tomorrow. I want to thank the Commission members for their hard work, as well as the many parents, teachers and education advocates who came forward to inform the Commission's work."
The Governor announced the Smart Schools Bond Act Referendum in his 2014 State of the State Address, and the Legislature subsequently approved it this spring. Access to advanced technology can foster a more interactive and personalized classroom experience while facilitating increased communication between parents, students, and teachers. Classroom technology can also be used to help New York's students learn at their own pace and gain the skills they need to succeed in the 21st century economy.
The amount of funding each school district would receive if the Smart Schools Bond Act Referendum is passed and additional information about the Referendum is available HERE. The report is available HERE.
Throughout the past several months, the Smart Schools Commission has elicited input from hundreds of parents, teachers, students, administrators and private sector stakeholders through a series of three public symposiums in Albany, Buffalo and New York City, as well as from various meetings and feedback submitted through the Smart Schools website.
At each symposium, panelists presented to the Commission case studies, current projects and possibilities that included: enriching the in-classroom learning experience by incorporating the use of tablets, laptops and smart phones; extending preparation for student instruction by using web-based software accessible at home; increasing communication between the instructor and student's guardian; providing more descriptive academic progress reporting; and, importantly, to support these changes, building a robust network of high-speed broadband and Wi-Fi connectivity throughout New York's public schools and communities.
The Smart Schools Commission today noted to the Governor that many of these main themes are incorporated into their recommendations. In concert with these themes, the Commission has summarized its findings in seven "Keys to Success" that can serve as a guide for school districts considering the use of Smart Schools funds, should the Bond Act be approved by voters. The seven "Keys to Success" recommend that districts:
1. Embrace and expand online learning which will break down geographic barriers, provide access to the best sources of instruction in the world, and level the playing field for students in rural and smaller school districts.
2. Utilize transformative technologies, such as tablets, laptops, and interactive whiteboards to deliver differentiated instruction tailored to students' specific abilities and needs that lets them learn and advance at their own pace.
3. Connect every school to high-speed broadband using technology that is capable of scaling up over time and deliver sufficient wireless capability to serve every student.
4. Extend connectivity beyond the four walls of the classroom so students from all backgrounds have equal access to the information superhighway.
5. Provide high-quality, continuous professional development to teachers, principals, and staff to ensure successful integration of technology into the teaching and learning experience.
6. Focus on in-demand STEM skills to ensure that students graduate with 21st century skills.
7. Plan, plan and plan again.