LIVINGSTON, NJ – A presentation on the concept of Future Ready Schools at this Monday’s Livingston Board of Education (LBOE) meeting inspired board members to consider supporting the initiative.  

Recognizing that today’s kindergarteners will graduate into a world that is technology-driven and in which more than half the jobs available to them will be in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields, the Future Ready Schools program helps educators and administrators create and implement research-based digital learning strategies to best prepare students for success in the real world of their future, according to Erin Borino, Supervisor of Educational Technology.

Created by the Alliance for Excellent Education, the Future Ready Schools’ framework centers around personalized student learning, guided by collaborative school leadership, and covering seven areas of concentration: curriculum, instruction and assessment; use of space and time; robust infrastructure; data and privacy; community partnerships; personalized professional learning; and budget and resources. 

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According to Borino, these seven areas provide a comprehensive outline for schools to use in structuring their strategic and technology planning and mapping out how resources should be deployed.

“Each state is working on their own version of Future Ready Schools,” said Borino.  “The New Jersey program is a certification program designed to promote digital readiness in schools across the state by providing guidance, support, direction and resources to schools and districts.”

By engaging in the Future Ready Schools-New Jersey certification program, individual school districts are taught the information they need to learn to effectively enact programs that incorporate technology across the seven areas described in the framework.

In order to be certified as a Future Ready School, districts are required to sign a commitment pledge, adopt a board resolution that supports the efforts of the teachers and administrators, establish a Future Ready team within the district similar to a technology team and submit a pre-application for consideration.

“Once the district completes the commitment phase, the schools can begin submitting evidence of their success by looking at indicators created by administrators from around the state,” said Borino.

She added that schools can elect to be certified individually and the onus is on the individual schools to submit themselves for certification.

“It doesn’t matter how many 3-D printers you have in your school or how many devices are available, it’s about what you do with them—it’s about transformation using digital learning,” said Borino.

Livingston Superintendent of Schools Christina Steffner concluded that one of the benefits of going through a program like this is that the indicators are used to “self-evaluate, self-reflect and shape, through a specific set of criteria, what you’re doing and where you want to go.”

“You identify your current reality and the gaps that exist,” she said. “The program gives us the opportunity to pause and really look at all those indicators that will prepare our children for the world they’re going to inherit.”