A national model for change
Project Graduation: The Digital Advantage has gained state and national attention for its impact on attendance, freshman promotion rates and especially high school graduation. Since the first netbook computers were awarded to freshmen in January 2008 as an incentive for achieving the Four A’s of academics, attendance, extracurricular activity and attitude, more than 2,000 netbooks have been awarded to students in grades 8 to 12. Business and community partners have made a significant investment in The Digital Advantage and have sent a strong message that they believe in the potential of Sunnyside District students and schools to do great things.
In addition to the Digital Advantage for freshmen, the Digital Scholars Network rewards upperclassmen and involves them in a program of college preparation. Eighth-grade Digital Scholars participate in college prep activities, start high school with their own netbook computers, and take Honors and online courses in high school. Digital Advantage Parents are assigned netbooks and participate in technology training. Dropout Recovery students are assigned netbooks in an online, alternative program which offers a different route to graduation.
From dropout factory to tech-savvy
The Digital Advantage has been the catalyst for dramatic change in the Sunnyside District and for the district’s new strategic plan to implement one-to-one computing. Technology is transforming teaching and learning in the Sunnyside District, empowering students and their families, and bridging the digital divide to provide equity and opportunity. Sunnyside’s transformation through technology is changing the image of the district from the 2007 Johns Hopkins label of “dropout factory” to “a tech-savvy district.” When eSchool News named Superintendent Dr. Manuel L. Isquierdo as one of the nation’s 10 Tech-Savvy Superintendents in February 2010, this award represented Sunnyside’s achievement as an innovative, tech-savvy district that is becoming a national model for change. In December 2010, the Arizona School Boards Association named the Sunnyside District Governing Board the winner of the Lou Ella Kleinz Award of Excellence, its highest honor, for the most outstanding educational leadership by a school board in Arizona.
In May 2010, the district assigned almost 2,000 laptop computers to every teacher. Teachers are modeling 21st century skills and are using technology to change what they teach and how they teach it. The first phase of one-to-one computing for students, Digital Explorers, began in fall 2010 to assign a netbook to each of the district’s 1,431 fifth-graders. The Sunnyside District’s goal is to assign a netbook computer to every student in grades 5-12 over the next three years.
Transforming our image
Sunnyside’s vision of transformation through technology is inspiring and empowering our community. The bottom line is a dramatic increase in the number of students graduating. The culture of the Sunnyside community is transforming to a culture in which academic achievement, graduation and postsecondary education are expected and celebrated.
A comprehensive, strategic public education campaign is redefining Sunnyside’s image locally, in the state and nationally. It is:
- changing the negative perception of public education and raising Sunnyside’s profile as an innovative, tech-savvy leader in education
- making our community aware of the competitive advantage that Sunnyside District schools offer,
- gaining support from local and national businesses and organizations that are investing in Sunnyside schools, and
- promoting economic development in our community.
Telling our story
Employees and community partners are becoming ambassadors for the Sunnyside District. The story of Sunnyside’s transformation through technology is on our website, in national online and print publications, on bus banners and in print, video and broadcast communications.
Building a grad nation
The most recent study of graduation rates in the nation named Arizona as one of three states with declining graduation rates. The Sunnyside District is an exception in Arizona, with steadily improving graduation rates since 2008. As the Sunnyside District solidifies its image as an innovative leader in dropout prevention, instructional technology and improving graduation numbers for Latino-serving districts, it is reaching out to schools in the state and nationwide to assist them in transforming from dropout factories to tech-savvy districts by replicating Project Graduation: The Digital Advantage. Sunnyside is offering a process, technical support, and marketing assistance.
- Recruit and retain students
Street and bus banners, bus benches and displays, posters, website, video, radio and print ads
- Promote district’s outstanding programs; develop customer loyalty - engage students, families and local businesses as ambassadors.
Business cards, postcards, street banners, posters, brochures, website, video, radio, monitors in school lobbies, school marquees, football fields, emails, meetings with partner groups
- Promote district’s outstanding programs, establish SUSD as innovative leader in education
Award nominations, printed materials, conference display, website, video
National campaign – Transformation through Technology
- Promote successes of SUSD programs and individuals
- Serve as a leader for best practices related to predominately Latino districts
- Implement agreements with districts to replicate Project Graduation
Website, video, news media, printed materials, promotional items, conference display
Sunnyside is committed to being a tech-savvy district, where technology is transforming teaching and learning. The goal is graduation and college readiness for all students.