|Release Date: 4/5/2016|
TOWSON, MD. – Baltimore County Public Schools announced yesterday that Chesapeake, Owings Mills, and Pikesville high schools will become the county’s first “Lighthouse" high schools, joining with the elementary and middle schools that have piloted the school system’s instructional digital conversion.
The conversion, which is part of a multi-year effort called S.T.A.T. (Students and Teachers Accessing Tomorrow) to create 21st century learning environments in every classroom in the county, is centered on shifting teaching and learning through the integration of technology. Lighthouse schools are those that have been tasked with pioneering staff development, curriculum conversion, personalized and blended learning, and the use of 1:1 digital devices for each student.
“We are now two years into the implementation of S.T.A.T., and the initiative has already led to significant enhancements in our learning environments," said BCPS Superintendent Dallas Dance. “We are seeing increased student engagement and greater academic rigor. Students are experiencing more choice, more personalized learning options, and teachers are better able to meet the needs of all students. We are excited now to bring all that S.T.A.T. has to offer into our high schools."
On Monday, a caravan of BCPS administrators visited each of the three high schools surprising principals and teachers as they revealed the news.
The schools were identified through a process that began earlier in the school year when high school principals were asked if they were interested in participating in the pilot. Once interest was determined, school instructional staff members were surveyed about their level of commitment. Schools with high levels of staff interest and commitment were asked to complete applications, which were reviewed and approved by a special committee.
The conversion, which Dr. Dance introduced as a system priority during his 2012 State of the Schools address, calls for a fundamental shift in teaching and learning. The conversion involves curriculum development, technology upgrades and professional development as well as ongoing changes to policies and procedures in order to reach standards ensuring a 21st-century, technology-driven environment in each classroom.
S.T.A.T. has since won attention both from national and international observers, including recognition through two national Digital Innovation in Learning Awards, a $1.5 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, being named the sole “Showcase" school system by Microsoft in 2015, being admitted to the League of Innovative Schools, receiving a Digital Content and Curriculum Achievement Award from the Center for Digital Education, and earning a grant through Maryland’s 2014 Digital Learning Innovation Fund. Dr. Dance also has discussed S.T.A.T. before audiences including the Federal Communications Commission and a technology symposium in the Republic of Korea.