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Kent, Washington Case Study

Digital curriculum builds educational equity and reduces dropout rates

Launched in 2005 with a single middle school academy, Kent School District’s one-to-one computing program has expanded to serve all their 7th and 8th graders district-wide. 

The primary objective for the program has been to address equity issues in this diverse district, reducing the rate at which students drop out of school and helping to keep them engaged.

They used the digital curriculum to:

  • Promote active real-world learning.
  • Give students choices about what they learn.
  • Engage students in conceptual learning and create a sense of belonging.

According to Dani Pfeiffer, the district’s director of school technology services, “There has been a gradual shift in the use of textbooks in our 1:1 classrooms. They rely more heavily on more current resources available on the Web. Additionally, the ability for students to actually experience through simulation what the educator is teaching makes it easier for them to grasp newly introduced concepts.”

To the extent that textbooks still play a role in the 1:1 classroom, the district’s eventual goal is to have them available digitally. In addition to the one-to-one program, a number of high school students in Kent schools participate in the Kent Phoenix Virtual Academy.

The content is provided by ODYSSEYWARE software with traditional texts acting as an additional resource. Pfeiffer explains that widespread access to “limitless information” in Kent’s 1:1 and virtual programs has helped students learn to “think more critically in order to decipher information that is truly based on fact.

Students’ ability to demonstrate their understanding of a particular skill or content area has increased. No longer are students required to simply demonstrate their understanding with paper and pencil tests. They may create a movie, participate in a blog or wiki, create a 3D object, animation, or game, or share their content knowledge and understanding to a group of students several thousand miles away. Moreover, we have found great success with the ability to differentiate instruction and tailor every lesson based on each student’s academic level.”

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