Vintage- Early footage of the creator of the KeyPad Kid talking about what is the purpose of the telecommunication character and his vision for it. (A segment from a Can-TV forum 2009)

Gary schools helping students through technology

Story Posted:02/15/2014
The Gary Community Schools Corporation will use technology to help students who have struggled with the traditional education model by allowing them to learn online to recover missed credits. The district expects to implement e-learning (electronic) district wide. In recent years, e-learning was called distance learning.

Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Pruitt said during a recent school board meeting presentation the president of the intercity student council told the board “We want all of our textbooks to be digital.” Pruitt concurred that that is how students receive information now on their cell phone, tablets and laptops, so the district is assessing how to deliver lessons digitally.

The beginning of March marks the start of an initiative to help students who have fallen behind regain their credits through a program that allows them to work online at home or at school. Besides helping the students recover the credits, the district wants to improve graduation rates in Gary schools.

Increasing graduation rates is critical because it is tied to the letter grades the Indiana Department of Education assigns districts.

There are 142 juniors and seniors in the Gary schools who will use the online program. If all of the seniors successfully complete the credit recovery courses, it means the district’s graduation rate in 2014 will be 69 percent, a substantial drop from the 88 percent in 2012. The district would be looking at a 59 percent graduation rate without the e-learning.

West Side Leadership Academy has 89 students who will participate in the program. Wirt-Emerson School of Visual and Performing Arts has 12 seniors who can participate in the e-learning option.

Pruitt noted a handful of juniors entered the program, as the district is “trying to catch them early so they can graduate with their cohorts.” She added, “students are excited about the program because it means they do not have to repeat their ‘seat time,’ and they don’t have to repeat 70 hours of a subject.” The online program is self-paced and currently focuses on the basic courses required by the State of Indiana Department of Education. Those courses are English, Algebra, Geometry and Biology. Tests are administered regularly and students are given traditional grades.

The superintendent described the program as “a cost effective way to provide instruction for students.” The cost is estimated at $42,000. The district purchased the program licenses from Apex Learning Digital Curriculum Solutions – a Seattle, Washington-based company.

According to its website, Apex lists districts throughout the country as being “success stories,” including those in Cherokee County, Ga., East Greenbush, N.Y., Albany, N.Y., Temeula Valley, Calif., Boston, Ma. Albany, N.Y., St. Mary’s County, Md., and Evansville, Ind.

Pruitt said teachers should not be concerned about being replaced by technology. “It shouldn’t replace them because teachers will be used for regular classroom delivery. She added that the best teachers are the ones who stay abreast of trends.”

Background on Digital Tools for Better Communities

Based on 15 years of experience in building Digital Tools for Better Communities, the Community Life Initiative of the Safe and Healthy Communities Project, supports a 5 prong approach to reducing firearm violence as part of comprehensive Local Area Standard-of-Living community-business-public and media networks.   Working in a evidence-based framework for “what works” in practice in urban, rural, suburban, exurban and wilderness areas, and based on consensus on national and state measures for background checks on firearm purchases and limitations on non-personal protection-based and non-hunting-based firearms, Community Life Initiative proposes that the State of Illinois, as well as counties and cities within Illinois adopt a  Safe and Healthy Community Response Agenda (including Lifestyle, Insurance and Community Standard of Living Networks in All Communities) for step-by-step reduction in gun violence while strengthening local Digital Age safe and healthy community public, private and congregation and service organization programs.  These include 21st Century public safety communications and IMAX-level, and 4 season, Community Planning and Outreach Assemblies, all covered by community and youth media stories on everyday and emergency needs.

As well, Safe & Healthy Communities Projects recommends that the State of Illinois include “initial commitments for safe & healthy community response networks” as part of $1 million non-Federal match required in its March 19 application for over $4 million in Federal funds for Community implementation planning grants for Broadband Public Safety mobile communication, with interoperable connection among all public safety and health parties.