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School Environment Evaluation Summary Growing Pains K-8 School

DEMOGRAPHICS: Growing Pains K-8 School is a charter school that just finished its third year of operation. It had an Executive Director who was involved in creating the charter school, and then left after the first year of operation. The second Executive Director was at the school for the next two years. The third Executive Director is beginning his first year at the school. With nine grades, the school has nine general education teachers. Three of the teachers have been at the school since the first year. The other six teachers all were new to the school last year. This will be the first time the school has had the continuity of all teachers returning, although that continuity is broken by having a new Executive Director. The students at GPS are mostly Caucasian. There are just under 200 students at the school. There is a small (less than 5%) Hispanic population. The school does not offer a lunch program, so there are no accurate records of students who qualify for free/reduced lunch. The district as a whole, however, had 46.6% of students on free/reduced lunch during the 2010-11 school year. The school is in a rural area.

Behavioral: Emergent The school does not have a formal technology plan. There are efforts to change this, but so far that has not happened. Resource/Infrastructure: Islands There is some technology policy. It is mostly limited to things like rules against students having mp3 players and cellphones in school. For example, there is not an Internet-Use Agreement for students or staff to sign. Behavioral: Islands There is a technology committee at the school. As a teacher, I did not see any benefits from this committee in my first year at the school. Committees at the school had limited cohesiveness with other committees at the school, and so fundraising and technology acquisition and planning were disconnected. Resource/Infrastructure: Emergent The school has informal plans to improve technology access and use. The technology committee has not created and shared a formal plan yet. Behavioral: Emergent The budget for technology has been on a need-basis. Things are purchased when they have to be, and there has not been extra money budgeted for the purpose of researching and finding appropriate technologies for the school to use. Resource/Infrastructure: Islands There is a technology area in the schools budget. The school has not identified long-term budget needs for technology, since we are still in the early stages of deciding what those needs are.



Administrative Information:

Behavioral: Integrated The administrative systems of the school are partly computerbased. Attendance and reports are done using computers. Some things, such as tardy slips and phone messages, are still done using paper-based systems. Resource/Infrastructure: Emergent I catalogued this as emergent mainly for one reason. Teachers may only see contact information for students in their homeroom classes. Students rotated teachers for art, music, PE, math, science, and social studies. That meant that teachers had no way to access contact information for any of those students without going through either the front office or knowing who the students homeroom teacher was and requesting it from them.

Electronic Information:
Behavioral: Islands There is a disconnect in this category at our school. Since the category is about the use by both staff and students at the school, I rated it down to the islands category. If I was only rating the 6/7/8 grades, I would have rated us as an integrated school in this category. The computer access by students is via a laptop cart which stays in the office. To carry laptops back and forth and then set them up, for the younger students, is a major challenge. Therefore, they are not used often. For the older students, we are able to have them go to the office and check out computers to bring back to class for use, and it is done regularly. Resource/Infrastructure: Islands As mentioned above, access for the younger students in the school is difficult. Behavioral: Emergent With only one set of laptops, and the time it takes to get a whole class set up on them, technology is rarely used for evaluation of student work. About the only times it is used is for state-mandated standardized testing, and practice for the state-mandated testing. Resource/Infrastructure: Emeregent There are few electronic tools available, and therefore they are rarely if ever used for assessment. Behavioral: Emergent This is another area where if I were only rating the 6/7/8 grades, I would have rated our school as islands in this category. Multimedia presentations and projects are fairly common at the middle school level, but almost non-existent at the lower levels. Resource/Infrastructure: Emeregent Technology use in the presentation of curriculum is largely limited to the older students. Some classes use document cameras, computers, and projectors regularly, but some use them almost never. Behavioral: Integrated Technology is used daily by all teachers for administrative purposes. I cannot speak for all the teachers, but I know that for the third of the teachers I work with regularly, they all use technology to find and present curricular materials. Resource/Infrastructure: Islands I rated this area down to an islands rating because not all teachers have basics such as printers or projectors in their classrooms.


Curricular Integration:

Teacher Use:

Student Use:

Behavioral: Emergent This is another area where I would have rated the 6/7/8 section up to an islands rating. Students at that level use technology often for tasks such as word processing or presentation. Students at the lower levels rarely, if ever, use technology in the classroom. Resource/Infrastructure: Islands This is similar to above. The older students have consistent and regular access to appropriate technologies. That is about to of the school.

Stakeholder Involvement:
Behavioral: Emergent We have a technology committee at our school. There is limited communication between the technology committee and the grant-writing committee, but other than that it is mostly isolated. What sharing of information does happen usually is a by-product of people being on two different committees, rather than planned coordination. Resource/Infrastructure: Emergent There is no school-wide way for all stakeholders to be involved in the planning and implementation of technology goals.

Administrative Support:
Behavioral: Integrated The new Executive Director has identified the acquisition and use of new technology as a major goal. Also, a member of the Board of Directors is on the technology committee. The school has the goal of improving the technology plan, but due to the new nature of the school, we are in the beginning phases of that. Resource/Infrastructure: Integrated Some formal time of the administration is committed to improving the technology use at the school. The new director is especially hands-on, and so that is increasing as we transition to her style of management. Behavioral: Emergent The training which has happened in technology use has been sporadic. It has been what teachers have gone out to find and participate in. Resource/Infrastructure: Emergent There has been no formal training provided by the school in the area of technology use.


Technical/Infrastructure Support:
Behavioral: Emergent The staff does not utilize technical support very often. An example of this is when the projector in my room quit working last year. It sat in the office with a note saying it didnt work for the rest of the school year, and I borrowed a projector from another teacher who did not use hers very often. Resource/Infrastructure: Emergent There is no IT support at the school. The husband of the school secretary would fix some things when he had time, but he was also a COO of one of the larger companies in town, so he did not have a whole lot of time. The secretary left after last year, and so that support also left. There was discussion of hiring a part-time IT person this year, but now there are no plans to do so.

Local Area Networking (LAN)

Behavioral: Integrated The staff uses the LAN extensively. Each teacher has a laptop provided by the school, and some teachers also bring in an additional laptop to use for work purposes. Resource/Infrastructure: Integrated The school has a WiFi network in place, which was effective. There are no voice and video capabilities, other than the use of a thirdparty platform such as Skype. There is not video-conferencing capability for a largegroup meeting.

District Area Networking (WAN)

Due to being a charter school, the district does not provide networking services. The school acquires that for itself, much like a private school would.

Internet Access
Behavioral: Islands This is also an area where I would rate the middle-school level as integrated, but the school as a whole as being in the islands phase. Younger students use the Internet rarely, while older students are likely to use it every day. Staff uses the Internet daily. Resource/Infrastructure: Intelligent There is direct Internet access to all locations in the school, via a WiFi system. Each classroom also has Ethernet lines into the room. Behavioral: Intelligent Email is an integral part of the school communication system. It is the primary way to contact parents, other teachers, or administration. Resource/Infrastructure: Islands/Integrated E-mail is available to all staff, which is a description of an integrated school. However, only some students have e-mail access, and then only if they have signed up for it outside of school. Even at the 6th-grade level, I had parents who would not allow their children create a Gmail account so that we could access online learning options.

Communication Systems

New Technologies
Behavioral: Integrated New technologies are readily accepted by most staff members. The desire to use new technologies is very high, the budget is the restraining factor right now. Resource/Infrastructure: Integrated An example of the acceptance and use of new technologies was the use of an online gradebook last year. That had not been used before at the school, and all the upper-grade teachers began using it once we found a free program that we could use. Behavioral: Islands Technology is becoming more comprehensive. We have data projectors, computers, scanners, copiers/printers, and document cameras for every teacher to use. What we have, when it works (back to no IT person on staff, again) is used regularly by the teachers. Resource/Infrastructure: Islands The school is in the beginning stages of acquiring the infrastructure required to truly integrate technology into the curriculum.

Comprehensive Technologies


I would rate our school in the Islands category overall. Overall, about of the areas were rated Emergent, about were rated Islands, and about were rated either Integrated or Intelligent (combined). Although the total number of categories rated Emergent was higher than either of the other two groups, I think that overall, our school can be bumped up to the Islands category. That bump up a category is due mainly to the fact that the school is making efforts to improve. The low ratings were not a factor of lack of desire. They were due mainly to the lack of time to finish initiatives that are started. Since Growing Pains is such a new school, and has experienced such high turnover of staff in the few years it has been in existence, efforts to implement a technology plan and improve the use of technology in the school have not been entirely successful yet. As we move forward at Growing Pains, the fact that administrative support is present at a high level will help guide the school to move out of the Emergent stage, which it is in the process of doing.

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