Test scores are up, disruptions are down, and universal student access to modern technology continues to transform – and broaden – the classroom.
Jurupa Unified's Digital Gateway program, already recognized twice for its work in teaching digital citizenship, has now been named a 2018 Model of Academic Excellence and Innovation. The Riverside County Office of Education confers the honor each year on a handful of programs that demonstrate innovation, improve student achievement, and serve as models for other districts countywide.
"This award means a lot, given the community support through Measure EE, the scope and complexity of Digital Gateway, and how hard teachers, staff, administrators and the district's entire technology team worked to make it happen," said Paula Ford, Assistant Superintendent of Business Services.
Since fall 2015, Digital Gateway has put a Chromebook in the hands of every Jurupa student in grades TK-12. The program provides inclusive access to current technology and upgraded networks, offers comprehensive professional development to teachers and staff, and connects students with new opportunities 365/24/7: an approach that nurtures learning without limits.
The Jurupa Unified Board of Education formally recognized the countywide award at the board's June 11 meeting. The program also will be honored at the Riverside County Education Summit and luncheon, scheduled for Oct. 16 in Palm Springs.
Digital Gateway has improved a range of learning outcomes at JUSD, said Josh Lewis, Director of Education-Information Technology: "Chromebooks have increased student engagement with schoolwork, improved their literacy skills, and sparked student innovation in areas such as computer coding and robotics."
The Chromebooks also have enabled an entire world (wide web) of creative teaching approaches, tailored to specific classes and individual students. Jurupa is one of the few districts to offer digital professional development for staff, teachers and principals – learning opportunities many educators have called inspiring.
Parents and students have been pleased, as well. A recent district survey showed that 88 percent of parents thought their child's technology skills had improved thanks to the Chromebooks. At the same time, 74 percent of students called themselves engaged or very engaged since they have a Chromebook.
Perhaps most fundamentally, Digital Gateway has helped boost academic performance. In Jurupa's second full year of Digital Gateway, graduation rates increased across the board. Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) English Language Arts and math rates climbed by 8 percent for all students in ELA and by 4 percent for all students in mathematics. Overall, more students completed the prerequisites required for college, and fewer students dropped out.
The district also has taught every student to stay safe, smart and respectful online. Common Sense Media, a San Francisco-based nonprofit, has honored JUSD twice in two years for meeting benchmarks in online safety training and completion of digital-citizenship lessons and curriculum.
More broadly, Jurupa's 2018 Model of Academic Excellence and Innovation award is the district's sixth such honor in four years. In 2017, Jurupa Unified earned two Model of Excellence awards, for Student Youth Court and Next Generation Science Standards. In 2016, the district won for Café Literario. In 2015, two JUSD programs were honored: Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports and Jurupa Valley Collaborative.
"The district continues to develop groundbreaking ways to serve our students and their families," said JUSD Superintendent Elliott Duchon. "It is wonderful to see Digital Gateway join our list of programs honored for excellence and innovation."