Leader Blues

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

TOP STORY >> Cabot schools in top 200

By ALIYA FELDMAN
Leader editor

Eight Cabot schools were recently recognized for implementing changes to their technology programs when compared to other schools nationally. The Washington-based research project, Speak Up, surveys students, parents, teachers and administrators to find out how schools can improve especially in the area of technology.

Out of 200 schools chosen, Eastside, Magness Creek, Northside, Southside, Stagecoach, Ward Central and Westside Elementary Schools and Cabot Middle School South were recognized. They are the only schools in Arkansas to be named Speak Up Top 200 schools.

“We must prepare students for the 21st century by allowing them to have a voice in educational issues affecting them,” Holly Blythe, technology specialist for the district, said.

This year, more than 1.5 million people across the country participated in the surveys. Every year, the top 200 schools that participate in Speak Up are selected based on total student participation, length of time involved with Speak Up and use of data in local decision-making.

Blythe coordinated the program and completed the nomination process for each of the schools selected.

This was the second straight year for Cabot Middle School South, Ward Central Elementary and Westside Elementary School to win recognition.

“We must learn how to incorporate technology into the classroom in everyday teaching so that we can prepare students for 21st century learning,” Blythe said. Teachers were also asked for input about adding technology to their classrooms.

“The professional development for teachers in the fall will reflect what needs the teachers feel are most important so they can more effectively incorporate technology into their everyday teaching,” Blythe said.

Speak Up is facilitated by Project Tomorrow. The group collects and reports unfiltered feedback from students, parents and teachers on key educational issues through a confidential survey that is accessible to anyone through their Web site.

Surveys are separated into grade levels to meet students’ comprehension levels.

Across the country, project participants included 281,150 students from kindergarten through 12th grade, 29,644 teachers, 21,309 parents and 3,115 administrators.

Each survey contains 15 to 25 questions, with one or two open-ended responses.

The surveys are open to every public and private school and district in the country and on military bases around the world.