School Evaluation

Junior Middle School is located in the northwest part of the county, a rapidly growing suburb of Atlanta.  The district consists of five high schools, seven middle schools, seventeen elementary schools, one alternative center, and two central office facilities.  The district serves over 28,000 students in grades K-12.   The Junior Middle School district consists of primarily single family homes that are generally classified as middle class neighborhoods.  Family make-up of the Junior Middle School district is of single parent, two parent, and extended family homes.  Many of our parents work in Atlanta or other surrounding areas. The county is a fast-growing county on the outskirts of the metro-Atlanta area with a population of 112,411 reported in 2005.  It is the fifteenth fastest growing county in the United States.  The median household income in the county is $56,998 with a per capita income of $23,536.  Unemployment is currently at a rate of only 4.3%.  With over 3,000 employees, the school system is the largest employer in the county.


Policy– Behavioral: Islands, Resource/Infrastructure: Emergent
Technology at my school consists of two and a half computer labs and a media center with projectors and AV carts. I would say that it is formalized in that you have to check out these items but nothing more. I haven’t ever heard of a “Technology Policy” at my school.

Planning– Behavioral: Islands, Resource/Infrastructure: Islands
There is a technology committee that meets to discuss purchases for the media center. I don’t think there is much planning other than what the budget will allow. I think there is some future planning but not much more than a) what can we afford to purchase this year and b) what will have to wait until a later date while we keep our fingers crossed.

Budget– Behavioral: Emergent, Resource/Infrastructure: Emergent

There is  no line item in the budget for technology but there are many needs.  Right now there isn’t any approval process for purchasing new  technology other than “If it’s that important, and you can raise the money, you can buy it”.

There may be a change in the future. Recently, the team leaders were asked to discuss the possible purchase of a software that would install a toolbar onto every computer in the building. This software would    “read” aloud lines of text. This $5000 purchase would mainly benefit the special education departments. The faculty feedback was a resounding no because of the limited number of students who need this technology and the availability of cheaper versions without the need for a site license. It may mean a change in the future as to planning for new technology and who it will serve if general funds are used to purchase it.
Administrative Information– Behavioral: Intelligent, Resource/Infrastructure: Intelligent

All announcements, other than bus dismissal and student check outs,  are sent over email. Morning announcements are recorded and televised. All grades are submitted electronically. I hope that more meetings would be sent digitally as well, but there is hope for the future.


Electronic Information– Behavioral: Integrated, Resource/Infrastructure: Integrated

Classes are regularly brought to the computer labs to get research for writing assignments. Teachers are instructed to provide exact web addresses and not allow students to surf or search on their own at school.  Media Center staff send out regular newsletters on what is happening in the media center and new books and equipment purchased.
Assessment- Behavioral: Islands, Resource/Infrastructure: Integrated
County benchmarks are taken online. Some parent surveys during conference week are taken online. Some of the business teacher’s curriculum is online and provides feedback to the students. Teachers generally do not trust the Internet to be the sole source for assessment.

Curricular Integration– Behavioral: Islands, Resource/Infrastructure: Islands
Some of the math classrooms have gone to only having a class set of textbooks. This is due partially to budget reasons. The students are provided with workbooks and CD-ROMs of the teaching materials. The business classroom depends only on computers and the teacher is frustrated by the power outages and flickers that are common for our campus. Many classrooms have smart-boards but not many of the teachers are able to come to the trainings due to the overload of data collecting that has to be done this year. Most of the classrooms have projectors which are used often to show movies, instead of the TVs and DVD players. The building construction budget covered the TV mounts for every classroom and a few other areas such as the lobby and lunchroom, but did not provide for the TVs. Over four years the school has done several fundraisers to supply the TVs.

Teacher Use- Behavioral: Integrated, Resource/Infrastructure: Intelligent
All teachers have a workstations for their use. Many teachers have three to four computers for student use. The student computers were donated and we are grateful. Unfortunately, they are also very slow and have few programs on them.

Student Use– Behavioral: Islands, Resource/Infrastructure: Islands
All students have access to technology at school. Not all students have access to technology at home. I was called “Discriminating” in a harsh parent letter this week for including a category in my grading rubric for the student’s assignment to be  typed. It was three points of the overall grade of 100. Fortunately, my principal supported me since I had given the students class time to type their letters in the computer lab.


Stakeholder Involvement– Behavioral: Emergent, Resource/Infrastructure: Islands
Parents are asked to serve on several committees in the school and we have a very active PTSA. Parents don’t always know what techonology we need or the best way to implement it, so their input is much desired but sometimes ignored.

Administrative Support- Behavioral: Islands, Resource/Infrastructure: Emergent
Everyone agrees that technology is important and our principal has made it a priority but his hands are tied by the county whose hands are tied by the lack on money. One of our school board members is a hairdresser and one of our previous technology chairmen didn’t even know how to use a Mac. Support from the district is sometimes difficult to attain.

Training– Behavioral: Emergent, Resource/Infrastructure: Emergent
With the budget cuts, we lost our technology support person and we now share one with another school. There is not staff development or staff trainings in technology. We do have one teacher who created an excel spreadsheet to try and help the teachers with their data collecting, but it was completely self motivated. Unfortunately, there were a few glitches in the fomulas and several teacher gave up on it.

Technical/Infrastructure– Behavioral: Emergent, Resource/Infrastructure: Emergent
Again, there is no support. If your computer breaks, there is someone who can work on it. If you would like a website unblocked, you can email “someone” about it and it might get unblocked 48 hours later. Other than that, there is no support.


Local Area Networking– Behavioral: Islands, Resource/Infrastructure: Integrated
All of the computers in the building are networked. The was the biggest concern about purchasing an iMac for my classroom was that there would be no password protection to log in. I had to promise never to hook it up to the Internet (I have) and if it ever breaks, I have to pay for it. It feels like someone is always watching you.

Wide Area Networking– Behavioral: Integrated, Resource/Infrastructure: Integrated
We have a district email. Each teacher is given a small amount of space on the common drive and their folder should be accessible from any networked computer. I think there is a way to work on my files if I am in the library at my daughter’s school, but no one knows how.

Internet Access– Behavioral: Islands, Resource/Infrastructure: Intelligent
All classrooms have internet access but is is primarily used by the teacher at the teacher workstation. The computer labs are primarily used for research or typing.

Communications Systems– Behavioral: Intelligent, Resource/Infrastructure: Integrated
All staff use email. All announcements, other than bus dismissal and student check out, are sent through email. Many student can access their email if they have one. Some student emails are blocked.


New Technologies– Behavioral: Islands, Resource/Infrastructure: Islands
Many staff members are wary of new technology just because the workload is so high already. There is very little time for creativity or experimentation as many teachers have to stick to a pacing guide.

Comprehensive Technologies- Behavioral: Integrated, Resource/Infrastructure: Islands
We are able to scan some documents, but we can’t keep a working microphone. I think we have a scanner. I am able to make podcasts on the iMac but many teachers don’t know what those are. Some teachers use movie maker, but many say they don’t have time before the CRCT.

In summary, the average of my school is 2.32. They are primarily in the Islands category. The weakest areas are Technical/Infrastructure Support, Training and Budget. The strongest areas are Internet Access and Administrative Information. It seems that in a budget crisis, the “bells and whistles” got cut to keep the meat of the school. In retail, it would be like cutting your advertising budget and then wondering why you went bankrupt. It seems that the data collecting burden would be eased tremendously if a little more more was spent on technology like assessment tools. If more money isn’t spend on Training and Infrastructure then the materials that we have will start falling apart.


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