Technology Revives a School System and Community
In this isolated Texas Panhandle community, technology helped revive a struggling school system and paved the way to college for grateful students who might never have considered the option before the introduction of digital learning.
“We were a district in need,” said Superintendent Jerry Vaughn, referring to the Floydada ISD prior to 2004. “We had one campus coming out from under a TEA monitoring visit for low performance and we had campuses that were not performing well on the standardized tests.”
Turning Things Around
But 2004 marked a new beginning, when Floydada Junior High became one of 22 schools chosen to receive a Technology Immersion Pilot (TIP) Grant awarded by the Texas Education Agency, an initiative that immersed grade 6-8 middle schools in technology.
Students who had never traveled outside of the region suddenly had the world at their fingertips. Enthusiasm for learning bloomed as lessons became more engaging and students began to see career options beyond the city limits. Significant academic gains followed, motivating the district to install educational technology in the high school and elementary school.
“It has transformed the classrooms in the way the teachers teach and the students learn,” said Superintendent Vaughn.
Smoothing the Path to College
Equally significant, after 1-to-1 computing was introduced at the high school level, students were able to take dual-credit courses, bypassing the discouraging 70-mile drive to the nearest college.
“And what we see is once those kids get those first two or three college classes out of the way, they think ‘Oh yeah, college is no big deal, I can do this.’” said Sandy Vaughn, noting the significant increase in Floydada graduates who are college-bound.
The Key to Success
Superintendent Vaughn stresses that implementing digital learning requires a great deal of work and commitment. He and his staff were inspired by the benefits they observed during the immersion program. “We saw what it was doing for our kids and it was making a huge improvement in our district so we became very dedicated to it and it’s been a great thing for us.” He urges other districts to join the digital revolution.
“Traditionally, when it comes to technology, education is the last to change,” said Superintendent Vaughn. “For the future of education and for our students, that has got to evolve to where we’re one of the first to change.”