Supporting underserved schools and districts with resources and leadership strategies for the successful implementation of personalized learning for all
Schools and districts face greater demands to prepare students for college and a career, yet many students—especially students of color, those living in rural districts, and those from low-income families—do not receive the necessary support to achieve at high levels and succeed after high school. To help meet these needs, Future Ready Schools ® (FRS) –led by the Alliance for Excellent Education and with support from AT&T —has launched a new program, the FRS Digital Equity Program, that will provide school district leaders with the resources, leadership strategies, and support to better plan and implement a digital learning strategy to personalize learning for all students.
“I’ve seen firsthand the many challenges facing rural schools, from teacher recruitment and tight budgets to a school principal who also drives the school bus,” said Bob Wise, former governor of West Virginia and president of the Alliance for Excellent Education. “But rural schools also have tremendous assets, most notably their tight-knit communities that create trusting relationships among teachers, students, and families. Personalized learning allows rural schools to capitalize on these assets to increase student engagement and improve outcomes.”
With support from AT&T, the FRS Digital Equity Program will create a strong network of district leaders representing rural, high-needs schools throughout the country that will share resources, capture best practices, and identify additional support that aligns with their specific needs.
FRS will also work with these districts to help them complete a digital learning implementation plan using the FRS Interactive Planning Dashboard. The dashboard helps to align research-based strategies with each district’s specific needs, allowing school district leaders to create systemic action plans before purchasing additional technology—ensuring a much smoother implementation.
“Technology is making it easier for everyone – regardless of age, gender, income or geography – to learn anytime, anywhere,” said Nicole Anderson, AT&T Assistant Vice President of Social Innovation. “We’ve seen firsthand with the Future Ready Schools initiative the powerful role technology can play in personalizing learning and improving student outcomes. The new Digital Equity Program will bring that power to even more students in rural communities and help us identify and scale best practices across the country.”
FRS Digital Equity program will help ensure that students in rural districts have equitable access to the opportunities that digital learning can provide. Specifically, it will help leaders effectively plan and implement personalized learning; assess their current educational environment to identify points of leverage, build an in-depth understanding of the essential components of a digital learning transition; and develop a strategic plan that fits their specific educational context. Through consistent use of the suite of FRS resources, face to face and virtual workshops, and access to progress data in the FRS Planning Dashboard, district leaders will cultivate a network of educators in similar contexts that can be of support during their digital learning transition.
[Getting Smarter] Partnerships Propel Readiness Results with a Focus on Equity
Why Digital Equity Matters
Digital equity—or removing the opportunity divide amongst students who have and do not have access to digital resources —has become a prevalent topic among K-12 educators in recent years. As many districts and schools across the country move closer to fully transitioning to technology-enhanced, student-centered learning, there is a need to understand and address the barriers that inhibit many students from receiving a high-quality digital-age education. Digital equity matters because:
- Research has documented the negative impacts of differential access to technology on the academic achievement of students in K-12
- Many of the country’s poor, rural, and under-resourced schools do not have access to the technology needed to provide students with a high-quality digital age education, and;
- Wealth gaps among schools and districts have the potential to further enhance the achievement gap among children from high and low-income families.
AT&T Inc. is committed to advancing education, strengthening communities and improving lives. We have a long history of investing in projects that create learning opportunities, promote academic and economic achievement, and address community needs. Our AT&T Aspire initiative uses innovation in education to drive student success in school and beyond. With a financial commitment of $400 million since 2008, AT&T is leveraging technology, relationships and social innovation to help all students make their biggest dreams a reality.