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Running Head: SCHOOL EVALUATION

Technology Use School Evaluation Summary: County Area School District


Heather Arenth
Boise State University

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County Area School District


County Area School District is a large suburban public school district bordering
the is comprised of the 2 Townships and 2 Boroughs. The District covers approximately
14.4 square miles in the North Hills area of Allegheny County and is located
approximately 15 minutes outside the City of Pittsburgh. Primarily comprised of middle
class residents, the total number of households represented in the district is 37,243.
Residents 25 and older living in the district for the most part hold white-collared jobs
representing roughly 75% which can be indicative of the education statistics of residents
with 89.5% having a high school degree or higher and 9.7% having some high school
experience.

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The district is accredited through the Middle States Association of Colleges and
Schools and provides an inclusive educational system from kindergarten through grade
twelve. County Area includes five primary buildings, K - 3, an Elementary School
(grades 4 - 5 - 6), a Middle School (grades 7 - 8) and a Senior High School (grades 9 12). The student enrollment for 2014-15 is 4584 with a student to teacher ratio of 12:1.
Looking more specifically at the schools, County Area School District is comprised of
predominantly Caucasian students. Family household income for the most part is within
the range of $50,000 to $100,000 with 21% of students receiving free or reduced lunch.

Student achievement is measured using the Pennsylvania System of School


Assessment (PSSA) testing as well as other assessments. The Pennsylvania

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Department of Education is now using a data analysis system that County Area School
District has adopted. It provides an academic performance score for public schools in
the state and is designed to inform the public of school performance, provide a building
level score for educators, allow the public to compare schools across the state, give
schools a method to analyze their strengths and needs.

One need in particular that the district continues to build on is the integration of
technology into the educational setting. The number of devices purchased for each
school is based on enrollment of students with approximately 2750 computers district
wide. As far as computer labs, students have ample access with all 5 primary schools
having at least 1 computer lab while the elementary school provides students (grades 4,
5, and 6) with 6 labs and a robotics lab. Students at the middle school level have four
computer labs and a tech-ed lab. County Area High School has 6 computer labs, a
robotics lab, a Cad/Drafting lab, and a Mac Video Production studio. High School
students also have access to a virtual classroom that provides students with simulated
educational adventures. In the fall of 2014, 700 more iPads will be placed into students
hands. With all the technology the district has to offer, it is imperative that County Area
is able to link technological resources with the learning environment. The Maturity

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Model Benchmarks from the Technology Use Plan Primer, is one such way to assess a
school's technology. This plan helped to evaluate County Area School District's
technology use.

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County Area School District


Technology Use Evaluation Summary
Support
Stakeholder Involvement
Behavioral: Integrated
Resource/Infrastructure: Integrated
Comments: Short term and long term planning is done annually in a formal process
with representation from various groups. Individuals involved the planning and
implementation consist of the Director of Curriculum and Technology, Assistant to the
Superintendent, Principals / Assistant Principals, Department Chairs, Grade Level
Support Teachers, and Central Office Technology Staff. Upper administration have
taken a hands on approach to implementing technology in the schools as seen by
County Area School District being recognized for their efforts of working to increase
technology initiatives, when the assistant to the superintendent, was named one of the
2013 Champions of Change out of 21 area school districts.
Administrative Support
Behavioral: Integrated
Resource/Infrastructure: Integrated
Comments: With regards to the use of technology in the classroom, administration is
very supportive and apart of planning and integration of its use. Over the past school
year, County Area School district implemented phase one of Project ACE which has
placed iPad technology into the hands of teachers and students for classroom use.
Talks of technology integration in the district continues with Project ACE receiving
another supportive vote by the Board of School Directors who recently approved the
purchase of nearly 700 more iPads to place in students hands fall 2014.
Training
Behavioral: Islands
Resource/Infrastructure: Integrated
Comments: Through staff development County Area likes to cultivate teacher leaders
to provide a mentoring relationship to help all teachers strive for excellence while having
power to create the change occurring in the schools. One on one meetings with
technical support staff can be held as requested by teachers but many do not take
advantage of this service. As with any new program, ongoing support and training is
critical. That typically is done in small groups during staff development or professional
days throughout the course of the school year.

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Technical & Infrastructure Support


Behavioral: Islands
Resource/Infrastructure: Intelligent
Comments: Each building throughout the district is equipped with a technology support
teacher who offers support to teachers before and after school. This teacher is provided
a stipend about the equivalent to that of a traditional teachers salary. They provide first
level support for district purchased technologies which include laptops, iPads,
Promethean Boards, Printers, Document Cameras, etc. District IT staff members are
also available to assist and troubleshoot technology issues that are at a level II or level
III. Utilization of these supports are done by many teachers most of the time informally
with emails or calls to the technology department. Some have called in support
teachers to assist with implementation in the classrooms.
Curricular
Electronic Information
Behavioral: Islands
Resource/Infrastructure: Integrated
Comments: County Area District offers diverse technologies for both students and
teachers to utilize, but they are not used to their fullest potential. Staff will use email to
communicate with parents but for many that is the extent to electronic information
sharing. Teachers have the ability to create their own personal websites on the districts
main site with classroom information but many were basic and not creative. Access to
these technologies is available across district buildings for staff, teachers, and students
to use. These include technologies that can be utilized in all subject areas and others
that are content specific. Through a yearly budgeting process allocate funds are made
available for additional technologies, ongoing repair and replacement as well as an
increase in the number of devices to keep up with the usage demand. The number of
devices purchased for each school is based on enrollment of students.
Assessment
Behavioral: Islands
Resource/Infrastructure: Islands
Comments: Assessments used by County Area School district range from standard
teacher or vendor created formative and summative evaluations to computer based
assessments such as the DIBELS. Student self-evaluations are not existent at this time
but with the future use of Google Plus and available apps this can help create an
avenue for the potential use. One way students and staff have the ability to assess
learning is through the Pennsylvania Classroom Diagnostic Tools (CDT). The CDT is
offered to students grades 6-12 and is a Computer Adaptive Test (CAT) designed to
provide real-time results for students and teachers with links to materials and resources
in the Standards Aligned System (SAS). The STAR assessment, which is another

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assessment used by the district, is another computer-adaptive test that continually


adjusts the difficulty of each childs test by using the childs previous response to
choose the next question. The district also uses a student data packaged called EdInsight for easily operated and understandable data analysis.
Curriculum Integration
Behavioral: Islands
Resource/Infrastructure: Intelligent
Comments: The expectation of technology use for curriculums is expected among all
curricular areas and readily available for teacher use. Curriculum software is purchased
just as traditional text books. Various ways technology is used to meet curricular
outcomes is through higher order thinking, rigorous instructional practice, and projectbased learning. One example of this is seen in the districts secondary schools where
they are using technology for STEAM programs focusing on science, technology,
engineering, arts and math.
Teacher Use
Behavioral: Islands
Resource/Infrastructure: Integrated
Comments: Teachers throughout County Area School District have embraced
technology, especially the Project Ace program. Technology use varies by teacher and
content area, but overall technology use is growing throughout the district with teachers
becoming more excited and looking for new and innovative ways to deliver newly
implemented curriculum. Each primary, elementary, middle, and high schools have
multiple mobile and media lab carts as well as smart boards (in various classrooms) so
teachers are equipped with available technologies to implement curriculum. Although
equipment is available there is not always access due to having to schedule and share
equipment.
Student Use
Behavioral: Integrated
Resource/Infrastructure: Intelligent
Comments: Technologies are available and consistently used by all students. Through
monies allocated by the yearly budget, new devices and software are purchased for
student use. The number of devices purchased for each school is based on enrollment
of students with approximately 2750 computers district wide. As far as computer labs,
students have ample access with all 5 primary schools having at least 1 computer lab
while the elementary school provides students (grades 4, 5, and 6) with 6 labs and a
robotics lab. Students at the middle school level have four computer labs and a tech-ed
lab. County Area High School has 6 computer labs, a robotics lab, a Cad/Drafting lab,
and a Mac Video Production studio. Students also have access to a virtual classroom
that provides students with simulated educational adventures.

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Administrative
Policy
Behavioral: Intelligent
Resource/Infrastructure: Intelligent
Comments: County Area School District has an Acceptable Use of Technology Policy
in place. The Board supports the use of computers, Internet, and other network
resources in the district's instructional and operational programs to ensure technology is
available for use in facilitating learning, teaching, and daily operations. Technology use
for staff and students allows for interpersonal communications as well as access to
information, research, and collaboration. For instructional purposes, use of technology
is varied to adapt to instructional needs, learning, styles, abilities, and developmental
levels of students. Regulations are also in place to ensure that students are educated
on network etiquette and other appropriate online behavior.
Planning
Behavioral: Integrated
Resource/Infrastructure: Intelligent
Comments: A formal process for short term and long term planning is completed
annually to ensure that all projects are meeting the educational needs of the students
and sufficient funding sources are in place. A comprehensive Pennsylvania Department
of Education Technology Plan is submitted every 5 years as part of the state required
comprehensive planning process. Individuals involved in the planning process are the
Director of Curriculum and Technology, Assistant to the Superintendent, Principals and
Assistant Principals, Department Chairs, Grade Level Support Teachers, and Central
Office Technology Staff.
Budget
Behavioral: Integrated
Resource/Infrastructure: Integrated
Comments: Budgeting for technology is included in the general operating budget as
well as Construction, Repair, and Renovation (CR&R) budgets. As far as long term
budgeting County Area uses leases for equipment for long-term projects such as
Project ACE.
Administrative Information
Behavioral: Integrated
Resource/Infrastructure: Intelligent
Comments: The use of technology for administrative purposes is available for all
administrators and staff. They are accessed through electronic notification and system
accounts. Technologies among the schools are used for things such as online course

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management (Blackboard Learn) and a paperless system is in place for school board
meetings, report cards, and progress reports.
Connectivity
Local Area Networking
Behavioral: Islands
Resource/Infrastructure: Integrated
Comments: LAN access is available in all eight schools. Hardwired and CISCO wireless
technology is available with load balancing and network monitoring. Approved guests
have access to Wi-Fi when visiting all of the schools within the district with the High
School having 36 wireless points throughout the building. An Alcatel-Lucent VOIP
system for all district wide phones and voicemail is utilized throughout the district. Staff
and students use available networks often for things such as emailing, social
networking, downloading apps and software, etc. Students are now being introduced to
more sophisticated ways to use technology through the Mac Video Production studio
and having access to a virtual classroom that provides students with simulated
educational adventures.
District Area Networking (WAN)
Behavioral: Islands
Resource/Infrastructure: Integrated
Comments: Along with LAN access, each school has access to WAN that returns to
Central Office through a spoked network provided by CISCO controlling system. Service
is provided through the Allegheny County Wide Area Network (Allegheny Connect).
The district is one of 41 districts that is partnering with the local Intermediate Unit to
create a Regional Wide Area Network (RWAN) that will offer member districts 20mb
access to the internet and interconnectivity between districts.
Internet Access
Behavioral: Integrated
Resource/Infrastructure: Intelligent
Comments: Direct LAN internet access is available at all 8 schools within the district. 1
GB fiber optic connection from building to building and building to outside. Students and
staff utilize the internet daily as part of the general instructional programs in the district.
Student use ranges from projects, class assignments, assessments, knowledge
acquisition, library research and career searches. Staff use of internet comes in various
forms from having students engage in educational apps through in class IPads to
creating project based learning opportunities.

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Communication Systems
Behavioral: Intelligent
Resource/Infrastructure: Intelligent
Comments: Email accounts are provided for staff as well as students in grades 4-12.
These student are assigned log-in accounts and assigned network storage for saving
assignments, projects, etc. Beginning in 2014-2015 students at County Area Middle
School and High School will receive email addresses through Google Drive. Parents
have access to a custom designed web based interface Parent Portal provided by OnHands Schools. Teachers are required to post information on homework assignments,
test dates, grades, attendance, etc. through this portal. Teachers also frequently email
parents regarding what is going on in the classroom and the PTO sends district wide
information electronically as well. Students lunch accounts are also managed by
parents through MyPaymentsPlus which sends emails to parents and allows them to
check balance, what the student purchases, add money to the account, etc.
Innovation
New Technologies
Behavioral: Islands
Resource/Infrastructure: Integrated
Comments: New technologies are generally very welcomed at County Area School
District. Implementation is widely accepted by staff who fine tune the use of these
technologies within the classroom. Staff embraces technology use in the classroom
and take great pride in delivering a first class educational experience through
technology.
Comprehensive Technologies
Behavioral: Integrated
Resource/Infrastructure: Integrated
Comments: County Area School District offers a variety of hard and soft technologies
including iPads, Laptop carts, Promethean Boards, Document Cameras, educational
technology programs (such as Blackboard, Discovery Education, Study Island, RazKids, Alecks), computer labs, and Classroom Performance Systems (CPS). With the
variety of options for students and teachers there is still room for more advanced
techniques which the district is working towards with the additions over the past 4 years
of robotics labs, a Cad/Drafting lab, Mac Video Production studio, and the newest a
virtual classroom for simulated educational adventures.

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Conclusion
With regards to County Area School Districts linking of technology resources to
their schools learning environments, I would place this institution in the Integrated
Systems Stage. Overall, County Area received an integrated or intelligent score
primarily in the resource/infrastructure area of each category. The administration is
extremely supportive and involved in the planning and implementation of technology.
Talks of technology integration continues in the district with regards to one of the long
term projects, Project ACE, which received another supportive vote by the Board of
School Directors who approved the purchase of nearly 700 more iPads for the fall 2014
school year. This is essential when continuing to use technology to educate as well as
continuing talks regarding the introduction of new technologies.
What became apparent through the evaluation was that there are definitely
needs regarding the behavioral aspects of technology use in the classroom by teachers.
This was seen in the areas of training, technical & infrastructure support, electronic
information, and assessment. All of these areas focus on staff utilization and integration
into the classrooms which relies heavily on the teachers. Though technology is
generally accepted by teachers, supports provide by highly trained educational
technology staffed teachers are regularly not utilized.
County Area School Districts overall score of integrated shows incredible
promise in the continued use of technology to educate its students. It also shows that
there is room for growth in many areas which I feel will occur for years to come. This
opinion is supported by the fact that the district follows a formal process for short term
and long term annual planning to ensure that all projects are meeting the educational
needs of the students and sufficient funding sources are in place.