Call to Order and Roll Call
The4th meeting of the Task Force on Student Access to Technology was held on Monday, October 22, 2012, at 1:00 p.m., in Room 149 of the Capitol Annex. Senator Katie Stine, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Katie Stine, Presiding Chair; Representative Carl Rollins II, Co-Chair; Senators Jared Carpenter, Dennis Parrett, and Mike Wilson; Representatives John "Bam" Carney, Derrick Graham, and Ruth Ann Palumbo.
Guests: David Myslinski, Deputy Director, Digital Learning Now; David Stevenson, Vice President for Government Relations, Wireless Generation; and Holly Sagues, Chief Policy Officer, Florida Virtual School.
Guest List: Clyde Caudill, JCPS, KASA; Rhonda Caldwell, KASA; and Marty White, CLC.
Approval of Minutes
Senator Stine moved to approve the minutes of the September 25, 2012, meeting, and Senator Wilson seconded the motion. The motion carried.
Advancements in Digital Learning and Education Technology
David Myslinski, Deputy Director, Digital Learning Now, explained the 10 elements of high quality digital learning. The elements are organized around three general areas: customization and success for all students; a robust offering of high quality options; and infrastructure.
Mr. Myslinski stated that digital learning is a way—because education budgets are limited—to leverage the resources the schools have now to better serve students. Digital learning allows teachers to have more one-on-one time with students and enhances individualized learning.
Digital learning is facilitated by technology that gives students some element of control over time, place, path, and pace. Learning is no longer restricted within the walls of the classroom, allowing students the ability to learn anywhere and everywhere. Interactive and adaptive software allows students to learn at their own pace and adjusts the instruction to focus more on their areas needing assistance.
Mr. Myslinski explained that the Foundation for Excellence in Education developed a Roadmap for Reform to help state leaders and school districts adopt policies to transform into digital learning. To help state leaders get started on the road to reform, the Foundation for Excellence assessed each state’s alignment to the 72 explicit measures that, when taken as a whole, will transform education. The report card uses three levels of attainment: achieved, partial, and not yet. The first report card was released in December 2011. The next report card will focus more on the 10 elements of high quality digital learning.
Mr. Myslinski explained that, within the 10 elements of high quality digital learning, there are two elements that should be highlighted: student access and funding. These elements drive each other. The more funding that is obtained, the more access the students and teachers will have. Another key element, although difficult for some states, is infrastructure. Certain infrastructure is needed to support digital learning.
Funding flexibility allows school districts to initiate the transition to digital learning. It also ensures digital learning does not become an additional layer of education but rather a conscious replacement for the current system.
David Stevenson, Vice President for Government Relations, Wireless Generation, stated that Kentucky is a national leader on education reform and has been for a number of years. Wireless Generation was founded in 2000 to work on issues of assessment and instruction and is focused on getting children ready for third grade reading. Wireless Generation is now part of a new company called Amplify, which launched in the summer of 2012. It is a subsidiary of News Corporation and is a major new investment in changing the way education works.
As part of Amplify, Mr. Stevenson stated that Wireless Generation is making two major investments on the long-term horizon. One of the investments is on a digital learning platform for middle school. Partnering with AT&T, the companies are creating an Android-based tablet device that includes a data management layer for instructional data. It also includes bundled and pooled connectivity so that those students who do not have an internet connection at home can still have access to the device. Finally, it has the option of a lease or subscription so that the school districts can budget for maintenance and service.
The other investment is building a digital curriculum for this generation of learners, to include heavy gamification and social networking elements. When incorporating the same aspects of using a computer that the students already uses, such as games and social networking, the students are more likely to show interest.
Mr. Stevenson discussed a program that Wireless Generation has created called “Librariana.” It is set up so that students using it feel like they are in a 3-D gamer’s world, but they are learning throughout the process. The students are given tasks in the 3-D world that are lessons they must complete to “conquer” and complete the level. The students have responded very well to this type of learning system.
Mr. Stevenson said that this type of digital learning allows real-time feedback so that students can correct their work as it is done, and it gives them the chance to meet with the teacher to receive timely and positive feedback.
Holly Sagues, Chief Policy Office, Florida Virtual School, explained that the Florida Virtual School was created in 1996 by sharing a “Break the Mold” school grant with two school districts to develop the Florida High School (FHS) project. Following an intensive six-month period of planning and development, FHS officially launched with seven staff members in 1997.
Ms. Sagues stated that Florida Virtual School (FLVS) began operating as a recurring line item in Florida’s legislative budget, and evolved into being fully funded via the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP), which is based completely upon performance of the students and their completion of their courses.
FLVS offers more than 120 courses that include middle school, regular, and honors high school courses and 16 Advanced Placement courses for Kindergarten-12th grade. These can be taken as half or whole credit courses by students that need to catch up on credits or students who want to excel in their credits.
Ms. Sagues defined an online course as a formal education program involving student-teacher interaction in which a student learns mostly through online delivery of content and instruction over the internet, with some element of student control over time, place, path, or pace, where the student and teacher are separated by time, space, or both.
Responding to Senator Parrett, Ms. Sagues stated that, of 303,000 part-time FLVS students, 65 percent are public school students, 20 percent to 25 percent are homeschooled, and 10 percent to 15 percent are private school students. FLVS is an accredited school under AdvancED, a regional accrediting agency.
Responding to Senator Wilson, Ms. Sagues said that FLVS has developed a lot of its own curriculum; however, it licenses and uses other curriculum as well. FLVS also licenses its curriculum for use in other states.
Responding to Senator Wilson, Mr. Stevenson said that there is a bundle tablet offering that includes the Android device, the AT&T connectivity and the data management platform. The curriculum is cross-platformed. Both of these are adjacent and complimentary initiatives. Mr. Stevenson stated that in Wireless Generation’s research, standing up and maintaining the technology in school is quite challenging, given that the school is responsible for security and data management.
Responding to Representative Carney regarding snow days, Ms. Sagues said that FLVS has a program for hospital/home-bound students, and districts have the option to contract with FLVS on a temporary basis.
Responding to Representative Rollins regarding the funding formula and growth, Ms. Sagues explained that the formula enabled them to not have a cap on the number of registrations; therefore, more students enrolled and FLVS received more funding. Ms. Sagues also explained that there are 315 virtual learning labs in Florida. The school supplies all the equipment and the facilitator to the lab, and FLVS provides the instruction and the curriculum.
Responding to Senator Stine’s question regarding coordination between ACT and SAT exam scores and FLVS curriculum, Ms. Sagues said that FLVS does track correlation between the exams and the end-of-course exams, but they have not graduated a full class yet to have complete data.
Responding to Senator Parrett, Ms. Sagues explained that the grade point average (GPA) levels of the FLVS and public schools were relatively similar with the average GPA of a FLVS student being 2.1.
Responding to Representative Carney in regards to funding, Ms. Sagues explained that all virtual school funding is performance based and will bring in approximately $5,200 per pupil. For the students that do not successfully complete the course, it is necessary to discount the $5,200.
Responding to Representative Graham regarding the academic integrity, Ms. Sagues said that the courses are designed for authentic assessment and project-based learning. All of the FLVS courses are integrated in a program called Turnitin.com. This website will review the internet to make sure that nothing in the paper or assignment is plagiarized or has been turned in by a previous student. The FLVS students are required to do a discussion-based assessment to ensure that the students understand the concepts thoroughly. FLVS also has an academic integrity team that will investigate any issues.
Responding to Senator Parrett’s question about access to the devices, Mr. Stevenson said there are many options that Wireless Generation is considering including a leasing option and a bond issue. Ms. Sagues explained that at FLVS, if a student does not have access to the internet or a device, FLVS is required to provide it. Mr. Stevenson added that, due to the partnership with AT&T, they are able to spread mobile bandwidth to reach more students and provide internet connectivity.
Senator Stine explained that, at the September 25 meeting, the committee began discussing task force recommendations. The yellow sheet in the committee folders at today’s meeting had the revised recommendations based on suggestions that were made at the September 25 meeting. The second bullet contained changes, and the two underlined bullets were newly added.
The committee viewed the video “Fox News Reporting: Fixing Our Schools,” which highlighted digital and online education initiatives in Arizona, Florida, New York, and North Carolina.
The next meeting is scheduled for November 27, 2012, at 10:00 a.m.
With no further business, the meeting adjourned at 3:15 p.m.