What is North TIER

North TIER is a 501(c), non-profit collaborative partnership between 15 North Virginia preK-12 public and independent school divisions, higher educational partners (Germanna Community College and Colorado State University Online. Located in the northeastern region of the Commonwealth of Virginia, North TIER Partnership was started by the 2002 Enhancing Education Through Technology Grant (EETT) awarded by the Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Education through the No Child Left Behind act. The North TIER Partnership represents large, moderate-sized, and small school divisions as well as other educational institutions. In all, North TIER represents over one-third of all preK-12 students in the Commonwealth of Virginia and represents the diversity of experience, need, and capacity of the entire Commonwealth of Virginia.

PURPOSE

The purpose of the original partnership was to provide high-quality professional development to administrators, specialists, teachers, and technology specialists in order to improve technology use and student achievement. Now in a second phase of this project, North TIER is continue its growth and has become a self-sustaining entity. North TIER is one of only a handful of successful partnerships among school divisions. The North TIER members represent a unique model of collaboration and connection between public and private all drawn together by regional locale and passion about technology in education.

The University of Virginia released a capstone report on the effectiveness of North TIER. The report evaluated the effectiveness of North TIER’s three pillars of activities: professional development courses, mini-grants and conferences. These three pillars comprise the current mission of North TIER. In terms of effectiveness, the findings reported:

AN OVER‐ARCHING PARADIGM OF CHANGE

  • Analysis of participant responses for the five-year grant period shows a statistically significant change in technology use by all participant groups (teachers, leaders and others). Additionally, over time, the quality of technology use has trended from basic, such as PowerPoint, to mature, such as alternative assessments, teaching, and learning experiences.
  • A statistically significant pattern of perceptual change about technology usage emerged between participant groups with teachers exhibiting the greatest perceptual changes and leaders next. Such a pattern suggests the need for differentiated professional development opportunities for these groups.

IMPACT ON TEACHING AND LEARNING

  • Consortium activities contributed to a measurable impact on student achievement. Activities contributed to improved student access to technology as teachers and leaders increased proficiency.
  • Computer usage is associated with highly valued activities that affect student outcomes.
  • Consortium activities were effective in promoting positive change in participant perception of student behaviors and abilities, specifically in the areas of content knowledge, achievement, participation (engagement), and attendance.

SUCCESSFUL CAPACITY BUILDING

  • Tiered professional development activities encouraged Consortium member divisions to scale upward and outward in the development of technological capacity. Activities such as conferences and symposia provided opportunities for inter-division collaboration; others, such as mini-grants, focused on intra-division collaboration.
  • The professional development activities created an infrastructure designed to support the continuance (over time) of positive change in teaching and learning throughout the population of Consortium members. The three groups of activities, while grounded in this infrastructure, are flexible and, thus responsive to evolving environmental demands.