NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - The New Brunswick Public School District was recognized and certified as a “future-ready school” by the state education department, for the district’s implementation of effective digital learning policies and practices into its curriculum.
New Brunswick was one of 63 recipients of this certification, which marked the first wave of New Jersey schools that have been certified, according to the state Department of Education.
“The ‘Future Ready Schools’ certification recognizes our commitment to modernization, via a program helping district leaders and teachers to commit to develop personalized, research-based, digital learning strategies that aid students in developing their full potential,” New Brunswick Superintendent of Schools Dr. Aubrey Johnson said.
Districts and schools taking part in the program are provided with guidance, resources and direction, with the goal in mind of transforming the curriculum to use technology, digital content and media.
The Future Ready Schools-NJ program, which helps school districts attain those goals, draws upon collaboration between the state education department, the New Jersey School Boards Association, and the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark.
“We launched the Future Ready Schools - New Jersey program as a road map for schools to help students meet the demands of today’s technology-based economy, and I am excited that so many schools achieved certification in the first year of the program,” said state Education Commissioner Kimberley Harrington.
This is an entirely voluntary program, according to Johnson, and requires no financial commitment. Achieving the future ready certification involves two parts:the "Commitment Phase" and the "Certification Phase," both of which are further broken down into a series of smaller steps.
The Commitment Phase is a chance for the district to show why it wants a certification, while during the Certification Phase, the district shows that is has been, is and will be, taking steps to attain those goals.
The certification program examines leadership, technology and support services, as well as education and classroom practices.
For technology, a school could demonstrate that it has the infrastructure to support everyone having access to the internet, ensure that teachers are prepared to coach students on how to use different devices and that the district’s data systems have breach prevention and mitigation policies.
With education and classroom practice, a school district could ensure students have access to technology and learning materials while outside the school building, require students to work in small group settings where theycan collaborate to solve examples of real world problems, and allow students to use technology to have more control over their curriculum.
Then with leadership, a school district could develop strong community partnerships to further student’s education, develop solid rubrics for measuring student success and adopt effective financial records-keeping practices.
“Basically, the Future Ready Schools fosters personal learning, through emphasis on a culture of innovation that brings together students, teachers, administrators, parents and the community, all embracing a vision of an improved learning experience,” Johnson said.
In late September, the school district provided 300 internet-accessible Androids to students who don’t have access to the internet at home, thanks to a partnership with Sprint’s "1Million Project."
The district is aiming to provide 1,500 such devices to New Brunswick students in the next five years