Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Albertson Foundation Donates $21 Million to Improve 21st Century Classroom for Teachers

The J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation announced today it is donating $21 million to the State Department of Education to help create the 21st century classroom in every Idaho school. With its grant funding, the Foundation will help equip classroom teachers across the state with state-of-the-art tools to raise student achievement through data-driven decision making.

“This is an exciting day for Idaho students, teachers and school leaders. This generous grant from the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation builds upon the bold and innovative reforms we have made through the Students Come First laws,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna said. “While the Students Come First laws invest in advanced technology used for instruction, this Albertson Foundation grant will give every classroom teacher the technology they need to streamline reporting processes, save critical instructional time and gain access to immediate data on student achievement, robust assessments and research-based best practices. I am grateful to the Albertson Foundation for this donation and its show of confidence in the direction that Idaho schools are now going.”

With this funding, the Idaho State Department of Education will offer local school districts and public charter schools grants to implement the Schoolnet learning management system.  Through this secure software, classroom teachers will have instant access to current, accurate data. With this, they can develop lesson plans, share best practices, and assess and analyze student progress throughout the school year.

School administrators and school board trustees are able to use this technology to track student progress schoolwide as well as the impact of specific programs or professional development. Parents will have the ability to check their child’s grades and communicate with the teacher.

The state has been working for two years to identify this type of innovative technology that Idaho teachers and school leaders can use to ensure all Idaho students successfully graduate from high school prepared to go on to postsecondary education and the 21st century workforce. The Schoolnet learning management system was chosen last year after a rigorous selection process conducted by classroom teachers, school administrators, parents, school board trustees, and representatives of the business community. 

Many classroom teachers and school administrators are excited to begin using Schoolnet. Here are a few examples:

Dr. Linda Clark, Superintendent of Joint School District No. 2 based in Meridian: “Joint School District No. 2 has been actively seeking a solution for formative assessment and hope Schoolnet can meet this need. We appreciate the willingness of the Albertson Foundation to partner with and support the educational community in using data for continuous school improvement and increased student academic growth and achievement.”

Gretchen Simpson, a middle school teacher at Rimrock Junior Senior High School: “I attended the Schoolnet training in March and believe that Schoolnet will provide teachers with immediate and meaningful information about their students’ previous and current performance on both state assessments and content assessments within classrooms. This information is vital in planning for sound instruction as well as targeting and closing the gaps that are found in student learning.”

Ryan Kerby, Superintendent of the New Plymouth School District: “This announcement is exciting,” said Ryan Kerby, Superintendent of the New Plymouth School District. “The assessment piece of Schoolnet will allow our great teachers to use technology to identify gaps in student learning, enhancing teacher’s ability to review or re-teach, maximizing the learning for all kids.”

Vickie Chandler, Superintendent of the Bruneau-Grand View Jt. School District: “As a superintendent of a small school district in Idaho, and as a principal of a 7-12 Jr./Sr. High, I am excited and supportive of the ability to access Schoolnet as provided by the Albertson Foundation grant. Our budget does not allow for many of the formative assessment tools that Schoolnet will provide as well as the End of Course Assessments that are being required and of great benefit to our teachers as well as our school leadership team to determine appropriate curriculum and progress monitoring of all students.  This is truly a gift to our staff and students.”

William Goodman of the Bruneau-Grand View Joint School District: “I am very excited that the Idaho State Department of Education and the Albertson Foundation have teamed up to provide the assessment module for Schoolnet for Idaho schools. I have had the option to review this system and as a classroom teacher, District Technology Coordinator, Idaho Education Technology Association Regional Representative, and a parent, I can say that Schoolnet will provide teachers with a tool that will allow them to make greater progress in educating Idaho’s youth.”

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