Creating Innovative Learning Environments to Support Equitable Learning Opportunities
Future Ready Schools® (FRS) is the nation’s largest network of innovative and passionate educators committed to the belief that every child deserves equitable access to a personalized learning environment anchored in authentic and engaging experiences. As such, FRS works with school and district leaders to implement student-centered learning strategies to target existing inequities; remedy disparities in in-school and out-of-school technology access; and use technology to create equitable learning opportunities for all students.
Now, more than ever, the nation’s schools face high demands to prepare students for an information-rich, technologically sophisticated, entrepreneurial, global economy that requires a highly skilled, knowledgeable, flexible, and capable workforce. Yet many students—especially students of color and those from low-income families—do not receive necessary supports to achieve and succeed after high school. Many of the nation’s poor, rural, and underresourced schools do not have access to the technology needed to implement personalized digital learning strategies that could improve learning outcomes for all students. Moreover, persistent wealth gaps between schools and districts have the potential to further exacerbate the achievement gaps between children from low-income families and their more affluent peers.
As districts across the country transition to technology-enhanced student-centered learning, school leaders must prioritize and address the barriers that inhibit many students from receiving a high-quality twenty-first-century education.
Technology is making it easier for students—regardless of age, gender, income, or geography—to learn anytime, anywhere. Through our collaboration with the Future Ready Schools® initiative, we’ve seen firsthand 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 underserved students and help us identify and scale best practices across the country.
assistant vice president of corporate social responsibility, AT&T
Since its inception, FRS has infused equity-focused strategies into each of the seven “gears” of the Future Ready Framework to ensure that each student has the resources and support necessary to take full advantage of the learning opportunities that technology offers. Meanwhile, through its leadership institutes, state workshops, webinars, and other on-going professional learning opportunities, FRS helps school and district leaders build their capacity to identify and rectify systemic inequities that prevent historically underserved students from accessing rigorous and engaging learning experiences.
Recognizing that some districts need more individualized support to transition successfully to student-centered learning, FRS launched the Digital Equity Program in 2018 to ensure that historically underserved students have equitable access to opportunities that digital learning can provide. Through this program, leaders from twelve school districts that enroll high percentages of students of color and/or students from low-income families developed and implemented customized digital learning strategies designed to raise learning outcomes for all students and meet each district’s individual improvement needs. The districts—located in Arkansas, California, Colorado, Iowa, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, and Washington—received in-person and virtual technical assistance from the FRS team, access to FRS’s suite of resources, and connections with leaders from similar high-need districts to share school improvement and innovation practices.