Reynoldsburg News

D.C. workshop focused on classroom innovation


Reynoldsburg schools Superintendent Steve Dackin traveled to Washington, D.C., this week to meet with senior White House officials as the only Ohio representative to the Digital Promise League of Innovative Schools.

Dackin said the league, which includes 32 school districts across the nation, decided to hold its Innovation Workshop July 16 in Washington, D.C., to share education initiatives with federal educational leaders and each other.

He said Digital Promise is a congressionally authorized, bipartisan organization launched by the White House in 2011 as a national center for research and development in education technology.

"We are flattered to be included in the League of Innovative Schools and to share what we have learned about tools and strategies that help us customize each child's educational experience," he said.

"The real benefit for us is using lessons from the other 31 schools to improve opportunities for Reynoldsburg children."

During the workshop, White House educational officials were expected to talk about spurring innovation in the classroom through the use of breakthrough technology.

Karen Cator, president and chief executive of Digital Promise, said the workshop is an opportunity for leading educators to provide a "ground-level view of innovation in American classrooms."

"We believe in the power of knowledge and sharing and are pleased to hold this Innovation Workshop in the nation's capital," she said.

Dackin wrote in his application to the league that Reynoldsburg schools' current initiatives include educational choice -- allowing students to choose where, what and how they learn on the macro level by selecting which high school academy they want to attend. The district also offers blended learning, data analytics to personalize learning and community partnerships.

"The district embraced K-12 STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) initiatives beginning in 2008 with a comprehensive community engagement effort that found significant stakeholder interest in rethinking the traditional school," Dackin wrote. "More than 750 students, staff, parents and community members participated in facilitated focus group explorations of opportunities like school choice, alignment of educational programs with students' career/college interests and problem-based pedagogies."

He said the district committed publicly to the development of a K-12 STEM pipeline in Reynoldsburg as part of a districtwide college and career readiness plan.

More than one-third of Reynoldsburg students are enrolled in a STEM-focused school in Reynoldsburg, according to Dackin.

To demonstrate the district's commitment to integrate technology infrastructure and blended programs of study, Dackin described how eSTEM Academy juniors and seniors may choose among three capstone programs that provide high school and college-credit coursework through a blend of digital content, direct instruction and experiences outside school.

He said Reynoldsburg's success with its initiatives has been demonstrated by the level of student/family interest reflected in enrollment rates and by student performance.