Case Study: Arrowhead Union High School District
Through an Equity Lens: How Speak Up Informs Program Changes and Ensures Equity for All Students in Arrowhead High School District
Arrowhead Union High School District started using Speak Up surveys in 2015 and has been recognized for its strong participation through the years. Over time, Speak Up data has helped the Wisconsin district to make program changes that ensure equity for all 2,151 students and serve the needs of the community.
When Donna Smith, Director of Library and Media Technology., heard about the Speak Up Research Project at a local conference, she was intrigued and immediately realized its potential. An added bonus was the fact that there were no costs associated with the survey. “We wanted to get a pulse of where kids were, who had devices and access to the Internet. Speak Up was a good way to capture this information and make beneficial decisions for the students in our district,” Donna observed.
Establishing a BYOD Program
Donna Smith and her colleagues at Arrowhead were interested in establishing a BYOD program. Before doing so they wanted to determine how many of the students had their own technology devices. All the students took the survey in their homeroom classes with teachers stressing the importance of this information to help enhance their learning. Parents and teachers were also encouraged to participate in the survey process.
“The surveys told us that most of the students had their own devices. With this information, the district was able to transition to a BYOD program knowing that the change would not have adverse consequences for the students,” Donna said.
The BYOD program has been in place since the fall of 2014 with positive results. Needs shift; however, leading to a call for the reexamination of existing policies to ensure that they are still working successfully and relevant in the current environment. Under the BYOD plan, students are bringing over 2,000 different devices to school daily, which creates security concerns and maintenance issues that overwhelm the district’s small technology staff. Additionally, the BYOD policy makes it impossible to accomplish state testing in one day and results in a protracted testing schedule. Speak Up survey findings also showed that students were struggling to access school Wi-Fi and resources on their own devices.
Transitioning to a One-to-One Program
To address these challenges, the district will be moving away from its BYOD program. The district recently approved a plan to provide all freshman students with Chromebooks beginning next year and add grades in subsequent years. “Our goal is to create a seamless educational technology experience for both students and staff and we believe that standardizing student devices will help accomplish that goal,” Donna explained in describing the reason for change.
As part of the transition, Donna is reviewing the survey data to see how many students have access to adequate and reliable internet at home. “The district takes very seriously questions of adequate access and ensuring that all students have this access and can do assignments at home,” Donna noted. “Without this access, students are at a distinct disadvantage in completing homework and researching projects. We can help identify grants to remove barriers for students who do not have a reliable Internet source at home,” she concluded.
Through the Speak Up Research Project, the district is able to review not only district data but also longitudinal, state, and national data for comparison purposes. The information from Speak Up is shared at the district’s Board of Education meetings and utilized in finalizing program plans.
Arrowhead Union High School District continues to use Speak Up surveys as a tool to set goals and back up their decisions. “Speak Up has its finger on the pulse of students and helps us to make the right decisions in advancing our vision and creating pathways for students to embrace the opportunities of tomorrow.“ Donna concluded.