Future Ready Schools (New Jersey) – Gap Analysis
Based on the National Future Ready Framework, Future Ready Schools – New Jersey was created in 2017. Between then and 2018-19, the district engaged in pursuing and obtaining FRS-NJ Bronze Certification by meeting the established criteria. This was the driving force in our planning for digital learning, and the evaluation of the data collected during this process provided an opportunity to reflect on our practices and identify gaps needing attention going forward.
Beginning in 2018-19, our district and school FRS-NJ teams have conducted a gap analysis using the feedback data provided by the FRS-NJ awards committee, and we have identified areas to be included in our action planning at both the school and district level. Although more inclusive, representing results measured by indicators (https://www.frsnj.org/indicators ) in all categories within all three themes, the top 5 indicators requiring improvement as identified by each school from the theme “Education and Classroom Practice,” and these became the goals and objectives in the school-based plan component of this larger plan.
NJTRAx Digital Learning Survey Data – Gap Analysis
Each of our schools continues to use the NJTRAx Digital Learning tool to document their readiness and implementation ratings for digital learning, and these surveys are based on the Future Ready Framework to assist each school to be ready for digital learning. Stakeholders may gain insight into the school’s digital learning readiness, its digital learning implementation, and the gaps the school currently has that must be closed if they are to use technology efficiently and effectively, in ways that increase our students’ college and career readiness.
If our students are to graduate college and career ready in today's high tech, connected society, they must be competent digitally, proficient with technology, the Internet, 21st Century skill, and digital learning. The framework adopted by the NJDOE and us, according to the U.S. Department of Education, is designed to set out a roadmap to achieve that success and to commit districts to move as quickly as possible towards a shared vision of preparing students to thrive today and tomorrow. This can only be accomplished through a systemic approach to change. With student learning at the center, as we revise this "Technology for Digital Learning Plan 2020-23", we must align each of the following eight (8) key categories (gears) in order to implement and sustain successful digital learning:
- Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment
- Use of Time
- Technology, Networks, and Hardware
- Data and Privacy
- Community Partnerships
- Professional Learning
- Budget and Resources
- Empowered, Innovative Leadership
Each of these goes hand in hand, with all being equally important, interrelated, and interdependent. These categories are consistent with the Action Plan Target Areas established in the previous district technology plan, and survey data (a rating score with explanation) is available for inspection in each of the sub-components beneath each of the eight key categories (https://www.voorhees.k12.nj.us/Page/82984). These surveys will be administered again in upcoming years so that we may use the data to measure growth and adjust the focus of our efforts. For each school and at the district level we hope to see the Digital Learning Readiness Growth and the Digital Learning Implementation Growth scores increase, and at the same time due to a faster rate of growth on the implementation side, we hope to see the gap size be reduced between Readiness and Implementation.
COVID-19 Pandemic Lessons Learned: Planning for the Delivery of Remote/Hybrid Education
When the New Jersey governor ordered mandatory school closures in mid-March, 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was part of the state’s response, based on research and data, calling for social distancing. To accommodate this order and to ensure continuity of learning, the New Jersey Department of Education issued guidance allowing days of remote learning, under the auspices of home instruction, to count toward the state’s requirement to provide 180 days of instruction. This action forced the district to quickly evaluate its capabilities from the standpoint of available instructional technology resources (hardware, software and connectivity), staff remote learning management capacity, anticipated professional development needs, coaching and instructional support. It also exposed some misconceptions about compliance rules and the need for standardization, as well as heightened our attention on performing cybersecurity risk mitigation. The lessons learned and resulting remediation steps were an unexpected part of our strategic planning, however important going forward.
The unanticipated closure of our public school buildings in favor of remote learning as a means for completing the 2019-20 school year had caused district officials to act in the formulation and implementation of new plans, many of which primarily involved the integration and use of technology products, services and support staff. With that, effective communications between the curriculum and operations offices with the technology department was a key to success. With the uncertainty of this new environment being clouded further by diverse offerings, ideas, opportunities and new risks, the district’s interests were to be best served by keeping the decision-making process aligned with its governing values, principles and previously established practices. Through the implementation of remote learning, there were many lessons learned that have been incorporated into this digital learning plan.