Innovating to help solve the K-12 achievement gap

October 16, 2019

In 2015, Denbigh High School instructional technology coach, Aulander Skinner, was facing some budgetary challenges.

He needed to figure out ways to lead the school’s nearly 110 teachers and staff members in digital teaching and learning with a limited budget.

Skinner was relieved when he discovered Capella’s online professional development courses for educators.

Spreading the word

Skinner tried a course and liked it. He then developed a Google classroom with Capella’s free courses and used it to train his colleagues. The Google classroom is also available as an optional training course for teachers using Capella plans.  Capella’s free courses continue to help Denbigh’s teachers develop skills to teach with instructional technology. Building a solid instructional technology foundation is helping Denbigh achieve one of its district goals: to make students “college, career, and citizen ready.”

A new partnership

Once the training was in place, Skinner contacted Capella and told them about his progress with the professional development courses. That discussion eventually led to a partnership between Capella and Denbigh High School in the form of a pilot program that provided a full scholarship for one Denbigh teacher to earn an MEd in Teaching and Learning. The master’s program is designed to help the teacher develop skills and knowledge to meet their school’s specific challenges; the teacher would then share this knowledge and bring solutions back to the district.

The inaugural scholarship was awarded in 2017 to English teacher, Deborah Marston, who focused her studies on Denbigh’s achievement gap for English language learners (ELLs). She customized her program to focus on solutions to cultural and linguistic barriers for ELLs. Marston’s capstone project is an impact study at Denbigh examining how the information she brings back will affect the teachers and students.

Future potential

The project has spawned more partnerships between Capella and schools across the nation. Besides Denbigh, Capella has pilot programs in process in North Carolina, Minnesota, and Colorado. These could serve as models for school districts looking to implement impactful K-12 teacher professional development.

There’s plenty more work to be done in tackling the achievement gap. Forward-thinking, collaborative programs like the one between Denbigh High School and Capella University can serve as a roadmap for bridging that gap.

Learn more about Capella’sonline professional development courses for educators.

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