The Wilson County School district took second place for its "pioneering" use of technology.
The award was announced this weekend by the Center for Digital Education (CDE) and the National School Board Association in the Digital School Districts Survey that ranked the top 10 schools in the nation for large (12,000 students or more) school districts. The survey, in its 13th year, recognizes schools that are integrating technology for innovative curriculum and improved student learning. Ranked first was the Houston County School System out of Georgia, with systems from states such as Florida, North Carolina and Virginia rounding out the top ten slots.
The CDE is a national research and advisory institute specializing in K-12 and higher education trends, policy and funding. The survey ranked tools used for next generation digital learning, launching STEM (Science, technology, engineering and math) academies and encouraging the use of drones, solar panels and robotics clubs and camps.
Director of Wilson County Schools Dr. Donna Wright said she's proud the district is recognized as a "trailblazer" related to technology.
"Times have changed," she said. "Today's students learn differently. We
know that, and we're embracing it. Technology is transforming our education system in a way few other things can."
Schools spokesperson Jennifer Johnson noted some "tools" used in the Wilson County School System include 3-D classroom instruction, robotics, creating digital curriculum in lieu of textbooks, designing communication systems that are tech-based, security systems tied to state data bases, as well as blended classrooms. Also used are virtual instruction and professional development, as well as distance learning.
"So, it isn't about devices, but more about changing the landscape through technology, " Johnson said.
Wright elaborated on the distinction.
"It is easily assumed it is about putting a chrome book or a device into every student's hands, but that isn't what the award is about or the full measure of the recognition," Wright said. "The NCDE Digital Award is based on several areas where they deemed we effectively use technology instruction that is engaging and personalized."
So, it isn't about devices, but more about changing the educational landscape through innovation and efficient use of technology, Wright said.
"Are we satisfied with where we are today? No," she said.
She said the system will continue to prepare students for the world they will enter.
"We will continue to provide excellent instruction and the necessary resources to provide the best foundation we can for every student, every day," Wright said.