Colorado Succeeds received more than 50 applications from schools and district administrators across the state to compete for the $15,000 prize for demonstrating Excellence in Education. Guided by the Vision 2030 Framework, all programs had to stack-up against the critical question of today: How are you developing agile learners and preparing students to thrive in an uncertain future? Experts predict that 85% of the jobs that will exist in 2030 have not been invented yet. This means that we must embrace and celebrate education leaders and teachers who are willing to go beyond tradition.
The selected finalists are challenging the status quo and exploring ways to truly engage students in learning. Successful students are not measured simply by a number, but whether they can think critically and work collaboratively to shape the technology of the future, rather than be replaced by it. Through a robust selection process involving education, business, and philanthropic leaders, three programs have been identified as models of excellence in technology-enabled learning — and now we want you to get to know them.
Aurora Public Schools (APS) — Digital Badge Program: This program turns the traditional report card on its head and recognizes students for the development of essential 21st century skills. By supplementing traditional school subjects, the Digital Badge Program encourages the growth of character traits and capabilities necessary to thrive in a rapidly changing, technology-focused environment. Skills represented in the badging program include self-direction, collaboration, information technology, professionalism, and entrepreneurship. Students demonstrate mastery through engagement in grade-level curriculum; after school clubs and sports; or activities they pursue on their own.
The Digital Badge Program also helps APS students learn about the multitude of career opportunities across the metro area and the globe. After students reach a specified level of Digital Badge Credentials, APS’s College and Career Success Team connects students to local businesses and organizations. These partners provide experiential activities to expose students to the essential skills needed in their workplace and give them a glimpse of what it takes to be successful in their industry. APS’s goal is to equip all students with information about potential careers so these pathways are accessible to them in the future.
Poudre School District (PSD) — NoCo Inspire: Looking at using big data to shore up gaps, NoCo Inspire is a web-based platform that matches more than 8,400 students with community partners to support their individual career and academic goals. These partnerships help students develop soft skills; experience what life will be like after high school; and connect with potential future employers.
NoCo Inspire creates agile learners by engaging students in authentic projects and collaboration with professionals to find innovative solutions to current challenges and capitalize on new opportunities. This level of innovative thinking and problem solving requires an extraordinary web-based platform coupled with experiences beyond a traditional classroom.
For the past two years, PSD has been developing a Work-Based Learning (WBL) team to implement NoCo Inspire. This project is in response to the Talent 2.0 Regional Workforce Strategy report which identifies the need to align workforce and education to grow the talent pipeline in Northern Colorado.
WBL coordinators are agents of change and advocates of creating systems that connect diverse learners with resources, experiences, and passions. The responsibilities of the WBL coordinators include developing apprenticeships in collaboration with CareerWise and local businesses as well as supporting the completion of capstone projects, industry certifications, and college courses. The WBL team prioritizes partnering with the community and adopting a new mindset to help PSD students, parents, and staff understand what it truly means to be an agile learner — ultimately helping students prepare for the “gigs” in their future.
St. Vrain Valley School District — Taking Education by St.Vrain Storm: In the fall of 2016, St. Vrain Valley Schools launched the first Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) in the western United States to support the need for “new collar” workers. This P-TECH school was created as a partnership among Skyline High School, IBM, and Front Range Community College. An essential component of this school is the Innovation Center which provides experiential opportunities to develop today’s students into tomorrow’s leaders, innovators and changemakers.
In addition to rigorous extended learning and mentorship opportunities, students gain valuable experience through employment that focuses on designing and engineering technology solutions for industry and community partners.
The Innovation Center of St. Vrain Valley Schools also offers courses, industry work experience, research opportunities and more in content areas ranging from aeronautics, robotics, computer science, and technology, to media, STEM, and entrepreneurship. Students have the ability to earn the following certifications: Apple Certified Technician, TriCaster Operator Certification, CompTIA IT Certification, and UAS Pilot Certification.
The Innovative Center addresses the skills gap by providing a workforce pipeline for in-demand skills and the Achievement Gap by providing diverse students with a rigorous and relevant education, ensuring their upward economic mobility and empowering them to shape their futures.
The Excellence Award for Excellence in Technology Enabled Learning is sponsored by Arrow Electronics. The winners will be announced during a live-reveal ceremony at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House on Sept. 19. Each winner will be awarded $15,000. For more information about registration and the awards visit TheSucceedsPrize.org.