Back in 2011, Digital Promise started the League of Innovative Schools, a network of forward-thinking districts around the country. At that point, efforts to use personal technology and adaptive software to support teaching and learning were relatively scarce.
A handful of school districts were really pushing the envelope and a handful of others were still finding their way. At that time, the League’s goal was to find those pioneers, connect them with each other as they charted new territory, and highlight their work so others could learn.
Just five years later, the League still holds those goals, but the educational landscape in which the League operates has changed significantly. Many more public school districts are rethinking how students learn and how teachers teach. No longer is “innovation” reserved for a select few charter and private schools.
Yes, we still hear from the media about public schools’ alleged failures to effectively use electronic devices. We believe those examples are the exception, not the rule. When you talk to actual school leaders and educators around the country, the discussion has shifted from “Should we use technology in the classroom?” to “How do we best support teaching and learning with technology?”
We know there are many districts out there taking real action to answer that question. That’s why we’re excited to announce we are now accepting applications for the 2016-2017 cohort of the League of Innovative Schools!
Since its creation, the League has more than doubled in size, now with 73 members across the country, representing more than 3.2 million students. When we seek new applicants, as we are doing now, there are more and more doing incredible work.
Representing public school districts from rural Alabama to suburban Detroit, from border communities in El Paso to urban settings like Washington, D.C., League leaders convene and collaborate to identify and implement solutions to unique challenges that school districts face. The League’s goal is to identify leaders pioneering innovative learning practices, connect them with each other, and amplify what they do best so others can learn.
As part of their collaboration, superintendents and districts leaders meet regularly in working groups to tackle projects that aim to improve student outcomes in new and creative ways. Leaders roll up their sleeves, working together and learning from each other to provide the highest quality educational experiences for all students.
Superintendents and district leaders also learn from visiting one another’s school districts, and seeing innovative practices in action. Participants in our most recent meeting shared that they would implement work they saw in Cajon Valley and Vista Unified — like TED-Ed clubs, robust computational thinking curriculum, and personalized learning frameworks — in their own districts. And, these leaders move quickly — three weeks after our League meeting, for example, students at Elizabeth Forward School District in the Pittsburgh were flying drones that Assistant Superintendent, Dr. Todd Keruskin had seen in action.
To apply for our 2016-2017 cohort, superintendents must complete and submit the new member application form on behalf of their districts. Digital Promise selects new members of the League for their leadership, evidence of results, innovative vision for learning, and commitment to sharing knowledge.
The deadline to apply is 11:59 p.m. PDT on July 11, 2016. New members will be announced the week of Sept. 19. To learn more about what we look for in members, check out stories from our current League districts.
For more information on the application process, please check out the application page. And please forward the application to innovative school leaders you know!