Needs Assessment

Background 
In May of 2012, the Education Department approached the Board of Education with a request to begin a digital pilot in the District. In the material presented to the Board of Education it stated: 
  • Where do we see the Wausau School District in ten years?
  • What is the vision for how education for the students of Wausau will look?
We know that education reform is a must. We know accountability is increasing. We know that funding is decreasing. We know that the students in our classrooms need to be prepared with the skills necessary to function in a 21st century environment that is fundamentally different than environments of the past. In order to meet the educational needs of the students of the Wausau School District we will need to: 
  • Transform the learning process in the classroom. 
  • Foster 21st century skills through increased collaboration and focus on critical thinking and problem-solving. 
  • Incorporate a project-based approach into instruction wherever possible. 
  • Assess student learning through multiple methods and styles. 
  • Provide anytime, anywhere access to technology (24/7-365). 
  • Bridge the digital divide between the digital natives (our students) and the digital immigrants (the rest of us), and bridge the socio-economic gap by providing access to a digital device for all students. 
  • Prepare students for success in future employment. 
  • Prepare students to be productive in a digital society for potential careers that do not yet fully exist. 
  • Equip students with the tools for proper digital citizenry. 
 The questions and the needs as laid out above are still valid. Why is the Wausau School District developing a long-term technology plan that incorporates a 1 to 1 digital device initiative? 
  • 1 to 1 initiatives provide students with a digital device to maximize opportunities for personalized learning, 24/7/365.
  • Digital devices complement the use of interactive white boards, digital resources, and other digital technologies (including digital books and textbooks). 
  • 1 to 1 initiatives provide for effective communication and collaboration between teachers and students, and between students and students, in the classroom and beyond. 
  • Digital devices allow for routine formative assessment that informs student learning and teacher lesson preparation. Digital devices will also be required for state assessments given on a yearly basis. 
  • 1 to 1 initiatives provide for equity regardless of socio-economic status.

Pilot Implementation Plan 
The District has been able to run two digital device pilots. The first pilot included providing iPads for each student at Franklin Elementary School and 8th grade students at Horace Mann and John Muir Middle Schools. This pilot is now in its second year. The second pilot included providing Chromebooks for 9th grade students in our high schools. This pilot has been running since the beginning of the 2013-14 school year. The pilots themselves, as well as surveys conducted with students, teachers, and parents, have provided us with a great deal of useful information. Additionally, more and more research is emerging on the use of technology and models for educational reform. All of these items have come together enabling us to refine our needs and develop solid plans for the future.

Pilot Plan Evaluation 
Take-aways from the digital device pilots based on student, teacher, and parent surveys as well as discussions with teachers, administrators, and DTLT members: 
  • 97% of K-7 and 10-12 grade parents completing the survey state they have a computer in their home and 96% state they have Internet access.
  • 82% of K-7 and 10-12 grade parents completing the survey are in favor of the District creating a 1:1 digital environment in their child’s school. 
  • 81% of 8th grade parents completing the survey and 87% of 9th grade parents completing the survey are in favor of the District continuing the 1:1 digital environment in their child’s school.
  • The most significant concerns with students having digital devices expressed by K-7 and 10-12 grade parents completing the survey were accidental damage and theft. The insurance program currently in place addresses those concerns. 
  • 67% of 8th and 9th grade parents surveyed indicate the benefits of students having access to digital device outweigh the concerns.
  • 56% of 9th grade parents support the idea of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD).
  • 91% of Elementary Teachers support an expansion of technology at the elementary level during the 2014-2015 school year.
  • Survey data suggests varying levels of Chromebook use by location and department at the high school level.
  • Developing a high-quality professional development program that is required for teachers and staff is essential to the success of technology integration as supported by survey data from the teaching staff. Building a culture capable of full implementation is necessary before moving to a full 1 to 1 initiative.
  • Approximately 64% of high school teachers favor implementation of carts of Chromebooks instead of 1 to 1 at this time. 
  • Survey data suggests a supportive culture to implement Chromebooks at the 8th grade level and to expand technology to the 6th and 7th grades.
  • The iPad is well suited for the needs of our elementary students due to its:
    • speed and versatility
    • creation aspect 
    • apps available for differentiation
    • ability to perform routine formative assessment to inform learning and teaching
    • tactile nature 
    • ruggedness
    • When surveyed, the elementary teacher preference for a digital device was for a tablet such as the iPad. 
  • iPads in the protective case (Griffin Survivor) have experienced minimal damage (3 total so far for the 2013-14 school year – less than 1% since the beginning of the pilot in September of 2012).
  • Managing iPads in a cart environment is difficult at best.
  • Chromebooks appear to meet a large percentage of student needs at the middle and high schools which includes Internet access for research, a dedicated keyboard to create compositions, and the ability to create and collaborate. 
  • Due to the clamshell characteristic of the Chromebook, it is more difficult to protect it from damage. As a result we have seen screen damage to approximately 7% (40) of the devices so far this year. The insurance option has taken care of the costs associated with necessary repairs. 
  • There is a need to continue to build and increase infrastructure across the District including access points and bandwidth for the Internet to provide all schools and all students the access necessary to effectively utilize the digital devices.

Relevant Research

  • Technology is a tool. Teachers, not technology, are the most important factors in helping students reach their full potential. As a result, providing high-quality professional development that affects a teacher’s skill and attitude towards technology is vital to effective technology integration.
    • Source: Protheros, N. (2005). Principal effectiveness intervention – research report. National Association of Elementary School Principals, 85 (2), 46-48. 
  • Technology generally improves student performance when the technology application directly supports the standard being assessed by making the learning targets explicit to the students. 
    • Source: Cradler, J., McNabb, M., Freeman, M., & Burchett, R. (2002). How does technology influence student learning? Learning and Leading with Technology, 29(8), 46-56 
  • One of the most powerful uses of technology is to tailor instruction to meet the individual students’ learning needs – differentiation. 
    • Source: Ringstaff, C. & Kelley, L. (2002). The Learning Return On Our Educational Technology Investment. West Ed, 1-30. 
  • Students who are engaged in a 1:1 digital environment typically:
    • Spend more time involved in collaborative work 
    • Produce higher quality writing of a greater length
    • Have higher levels of research and analysis skills
    • Attain higher performance in problem solving and critical thinking skills (understanding a problem, identifying what is needed to solve it, using technology to research, completing an analysis of the options) 
      • Source: Gulek, J.C. & Demeritas, H. (2005). Learning with Technology: The Impact of Laptop Use on Student Achievement. Journal of Technology, Learning and Assessment, 3(2), 1- 39. 
  • Key conditions necessary for technology integration to improve student learning include: 
    • Teachers must be adequately trained to use and incorporate the technology.
    • Teachers may need to change the way they teach – less imparter of wisdom and more facilitator of learning. Student-centered learning methods need to become the norm.
    • Technology must be sufficient and accessible to all, allowing the technology to be used as a tool to collect, analyze, and create. 
    • Technology should be integrated in the curricular and instructional framework as a tool – quality not quantity.
      • Source: Ringstaff, C. & Kelley, L. (2002). The Learning Return On Our Educational Technology Investment. West Ed, 1-30. 
      • Source: Muir-Herzig, R.G., (2004). Technology and Its Impact in the Classroom. Computer and Education, 42, 111-131.
  • Seven major findings of interest to schools embarking on or already administering a technology implementation.
    • There are nine key factors linked most strongly to educational success.
      • Use of technology in all intervention classes
      • Change management leadership by the principal
      • Online collaboration daily
      • Integration of technology in core subjects
      • Online formative assessments
      • Student/computer ratio
      • Virtual field trips
      • Use of Internet search engines daily
      • Principal training on teacher buy-in, best practices, and technology transformed learning
    • Properly implemented technology saves money
    • 1:1 schools employing the nine key implementation factors listed above outperform all schools and all other 1:1 schools.
    • The principal’s ability to lead change is critical.
    • Technology-transformed intervention improves learning.
    • Online collaboration increases learning productivity and student engagement.
    • Daily use of technology delivers the best return on the investment. 
        • Source: Greaves Group (2010). The Technology Factor: Nine Keys to Student Achievement and Cost Effectiveness. Project Red, 12-19
  • Students who are engaged in a 1:1 digital environment typically:
    • Attain higher performance in problem solving and critical thinking skills (understanding a problem, identifying what is needed to solve it, using technology to research, completing an analysis of the options)
    • Have higher levels of research and analysis skills
    • Produce higher quality writing of a greater length
    • Spend more time involved in collaborative work
      • Source: Gulek, J.C. & Demeritas, H. (2005). Learning with Technology: The Impact of Laptop Use on Student Achievement. Journal of Technology, Learning and Assessment, 3(2), 1-39.
  • According to the Friday Institute, researchers found that teachers with more advanced technology skills used the laptops 20% to 30% more often than did their peers (Silvernail & Lane, 2004)
    • High-quality professional development is necessary for the success of 1:1 initiatives. Silvernail and Buffington (2009) studied a two-year, 200-hour 1:1 professional development program and found that it “was effective in changing teaching and technology practices, which in turn led to improved student performance on standardized mathematics tests”
    • For the Maine Technology Learning Institute:
      • Increase in proficient writing from 29.1% to 41.4% (from 2000-2005)
      • Maine students who used the laptop consistently in all stages of the writing process (e.g. , drafting, editing, and reviewing) scored higher than did students who never used them for writing, as evidenced by the proportion of each group of students who met the writing proficiency standard on the MEA (43.7% for laptop users versus 21% for non-laptop users)
      • Researchers found that using laptops in the writing process had a long-term positive effect on students’ writing skills, helping them become better writers in general, and not just helping them write better when using laptops
        • Source: Rodolfo Argueta E. D., Jessica Hufueta, Jennifer Tingen, & Jenifer O. Corn P. D. (2011). Laptop initiatives: Summary of research across seven states.
  • Mooresville North Carolina School District has seen gains through "a digital conversion"
    • The district’s graduation rate was 91 percent in 2011, up from 80 percent in 2008
    • On state tests in reading, math and science, an average of 88 percent of students across grades and subjects met proficiency standards, compared with 73 percent three years prior
    • Attendance is up, dropouts are down
    • Mooresville ranks 100th out of 115 districts in North Carolina in terms of dollars spent per student — $7,415.89 a year — but it is now third in test scores and second in graduation rates
    • Out-of-school suspensions have decreased by 64% since 2006-2007
  • West Allis-West Milwaukee (Next Generation Learning Community)- MAP Data
    • Longfellow Elementary and Mitchell Elementary were schools without implementation of the Personalized Learning Initiative; Walker Elementary was part of the initiative.
    • Achievement Results: 48% of all students enrolled in an NxGLC classroom exceeded their growth target by more than 10 RIT levels.
      • According to NWEA MAP, students enrolled in NxGLC classrooms demonstrated 185% growth. This number almost doubles the growth expected according to national norms 




      • After 2 years of implementation, the # of students proficient and advanced in reading grew by 33.7% 
      • After 2 years of implementation, the # of students proficient and advanced in Math grew by 29.4%