Over two years, simSchool and its partners commit to remove cost barriers to research-validated quality professional development to all educators at Title 1 schools nationwide and to create a pathway for the earning of digital micro-credentials and the recognition of on-going learning.
In 2015-2017, over 3 million educators at the nearly 60,000 Title 1 designated schools across the country will be offered training utilizing the simSchool platform. Partners hope to engage 5% of the population of administrators, teachers, aids, specialists and paraprofessionals and provide direct training to 160,000 educators in over 3,000 schools nationwide but are prepared to scale up to meet the need and serve all interested schools.
Year 1 will focus on a multi-state pilot in identified high-need districts in cities including, but not limited to, Philadelphia, Las Vegas, and Atlanta. All Title 1 schools within participating districts will receive no-cost access to simSchool throughout the commitment, access to online digital resource libraries hosted by simSchool, SITE and AACE, technical support provided by Pragmatic Solutions, Inc, onboarding and training assistance by TechMatters, LLC, and custom training courses delivered by the simSchool team.
Year 1 participants will receive the added benefit of earning Digital Promise Micro-credentials in Simulations for Teaching and Learning, Understanding Student Differences, and Putting Data into Practice. In Year 2, participants will earn continuing education units from the University of North Texas at Denton, as well as micro-credentials. Commitment partner CAEP will aid in the development of research surveys that will help guide data collection, analysis and reporting delivered back to school administrators and districts in hopes of improving teaching and learning for all educators and their communities.
The commitment partners aim to reach 10,000 educators at 700 schools during the pilot phase and 150,000 educators at 3,000 schools across the country in the second year.
Quarter 1: August October 2015
Work through network of connections to recruit schools for involvement; including on-site district-level discussion of local needs; complete Digital Promise micro-certification process
Deliverable, November 2015: Participant list; introductory survey results
Quarter 2: November 2015 January 2016
On-board participant schools; develop custom content; implement local-level train the trainer; create trainer and teacher-level online peer to peer community forums; conduct virtual administrator workshop.
Deliverable Feb 2016: List of regional trainers; outline of all content created by region (which will help identify global areas of struggle and concern); workshop recordings; documentation on train the trainer program.
Quarter 3: February April 2016
Active professional development; recruitment of Year 2 schools; promotion at industry conferences; iterate improvements based on results; complete UNT continuing education unit plan.
Deliverable May 2016: Outcome results from pilot; list of schools and teachers participating in Year 2 scale up.
Quarter 4: May July 2016
Recruit schools for involvement; evaluate and improve all existing content for Year 2; promotion of program at ISTE National Conferences.
Deliverable August 2016: Participant list; survey results.
Quarter 5: August October 2016
On-board participants, train the trainers; support online community; conduct virtual workshops; implement sustainability measures.
Deliverable November 2016: Report on regional involvement, content emphasis; workshop recordings; plan for ongoing sustainability.
Quarter 6: November 2016 January 2017
Active professional development; implement sustainability measures.
Deliverable February 2017: Results to date.
Quarter 7: February April 2017
Active professional development; implement sustainability measures.
Deliverable April 2017: Results to date.
Quarter 8: April July 2017
Active professional development; active implementation of sustainability measures; presentations at ISTE and other conferences previously identified; participant celebration (TBD).
Deliverable August 2017: Report of impact of commitment, analysis of Year 1 vs Year 2; sustainability report.
The current climate for teachers is dire. New Common Core standards coupled with more stringent teacher licensing requirements, state-driven teacher performance evaluation, and No Child Left Behind compliance have left educators emotionally raw, the pipeline of teachers depleted, and the neediest of schools at continued risk.
While efforts to improve teacher training in hopes of changing educational outcomes have been expansive (Race to the Top, School Climate Improvement Grants), none have identified any scalable, research and outcome-validated professional development programs to aid the educators in greatest need those serving 11 million children in Title 1 schools.
In other sectors employees are trained in new or changed standards before being monitored for key performance indicators; as a matter of respect and efficiency, so too should teachers be. In the pursuit of improving education for all, there is an obligation to provide equitable training to teachers in the field where they are in what they most need. Removing struggling teachers from underserved communities does not solve problems in education. It only compounds them.
It is time to convert these challenges into opportunities for improvement rather than penalty. A commitment to use new technology tools to shift the current paradigm from scrutinizing educators to supporting them in their communities will improve educational outcomes and reinforce their role as invaluable assets to our nations growth and global position.
simSchool is a research-validated teacher-training simulators that has been used for a decade across the world to provide a safe environment to practice working with students of varied profiles. simSchool can model 1 trillion students and monitor over 100 data points on teacher effectiveness simultaneously. Experts can create any type of task, learner, and classroom so that a teacher-user can practice any situation s/he might encounter in the field. This system innovation helps ensure a consistent approach to training while enabling customization to meet the specific needs of schools. simSchool can reflect local considerations while maintaining a uniform approach to skill-building in classroom management, addressing special needs, understanding emotion, and more.
To implement the envisioned commitment direct financial resources are required to increase staffing to best serve participant schools, to create custom targeted content for involved schools, and to attend industry conferences to present results, promote participation, and build opportunities that will contribute to long-term sustainability.
In return for partnership, the commitment partners will provide access to anonymized data results by region, including technology usage and readiness data, areas of teacher self-reported concern and stress, and other data germane to ongoing educational technology infrastructure and teacher training. As well, the group will document all efforts in training local staff, evaluating technology infrastructure, and more that may be informative to institutes of higher education, state education agencies, and corporations and entities operating in educational technology and/or improving teacher quality.