Magazine article Curriculum Administrator

When Sudden Gaps Open in Solid Ground

Magazine article Curriculum Administrator

When Sudden Gaps Open in Solid Ground

Article excerpt

Even cutting-edge schools can fall behind if their leaders don't pay attention.

Since the early days of educational technology, there have always been the superstar schools--those places where the combination of leadership, inspiration and perspiration add up to technology magic. These are the schools that get profiled in magazines like this one, the schools that crop up on the agenda of every technology conference.

Ever wonder what happens to those schools once the applause dies down and the spotlight shifts?

Many former superstar schools just keep moving ahead, doing their best to stay on top of trends in technology and education. Occasionally a top technology school will intentionally jettison technology and sometimes the technology spirit withers with the loss of a dynamic principal, specialist or teacher.

But sometimes, and this is the scary part, have-got schools become have-nots without even noticing.

A CAUTIONARY I recently spent a couple of days at one of these schools. "Primo High" (not its real name) is one of those gleaming palaces of learning that spring up whenever the McMansion-to-cow pasture quotient tips in the mansions' favor. This school has the best of everything: the best teachers, the best test scores and the best student TV news program.

And when it first opened, five years ago, Primo also had the best technology, including an Internet-connected computer in every classroom--with an oversized monitor for class presentations. Multiple specialized tech labs were packed with the latest multimedia stuff.

While the rest of the education world scrambled to catch up, Primo made the most of its advantage. It drew families to the community, and it innovated in combining curriculum with state and district assessments. What it did not do is update or upgrade its technology.

READY TEACHERS, RETRO TECHNOLOGY Today, ask any one of those tech-savvy teachers how they use computers in their classrooms, and they'll either sigh and roll their eyes or launch into a tirade.

Those lone classroom computers now seem fatally slow--and ridiculously inadequate.

"Last year I was at a middle school at the poor end of the county--75 percent of students received free lunch! …

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