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Our 10th Annual Tech-Savvy Superintendent Awards
Manuel L. Isquierdo
Sunnyside Unified School District
Manuel L. Isquierdo joined the Sunnyside Unified School District in July 2007, and four months into his tenure there he launched Project Graduation, aimed at reducing the district’s dropout rate. Technology is a key component of this plan, serving as both an incentive for students to succeed and as a means of intervention for at-risk youth.
The project’s focus on credit recovery, attendance, and intervention already has led to a significant improvement in the number of students graduating from the district. As part of the project, Isquierdo insisted on 100-percent efficiency in online attendance-taking district-wide.
An element of the project called the “Digital Advantage” uses laptop computers as an incentive to increase the graduation rate and bridge the digital divide. High school students can earn laptops by achieving the four A’s: academics, attendance, (extracurricular) activity, and attitude (no out-of-school suspensions). During the 2008-09 school year, 505 freshmen (40 percent) and 339 upperclassmen earned laptops; 99 percent of freshmen who earned laptops were promoted to the 10th grade. Attendance improved significantly, and 22 percent of the district’s high school students now have laptops overall.
Within six months of launching Digital Advantage, Isquierdo secured more than $1 million in support for the program from business and community sponsors. This year, the project has expanded to include an offshoot called Digital Advantage Parents, which targets middle and high school families, and another offshoot called Digital Advantage Eighth-Grade Scholars–a college preparation and incentive program for students transitioning from eighth grade to high school.
Lake Washington School District
As the former chief technology officer for the sixth largest school district in Washington, and as an advocate for instructional technology at both the state and national levels, Chip Kimball’s commitment to ed-tech integration is obvious. A highly respected consultant and keynote speaker on school improvement, innovation, governance, and the systemic use of technology, Kimball stays current on the latest ed-tech research and best practices, and he models the use of technology in everything he does.
Lake Washington uses a vast array of technology resources–including a fiber-optic network and media-rich classrooms–to support everything from payroll, to work-order management, to the teaching of 21st-century skills. Classroom teachers are capable of delivering high-quality, multimedia-rich lessons, and technology integration is now a required job skill for working in the district. These measures are supported through contracted compensation (97 percent of the district’s teachers have opted to earn an extra $1,250 each year by demonstrating effective ed-tech integration) and by a Technology Integration Department focused on bringing new innovations into instruction.
Kimball has served on several ed-tech boards, including the International Society for Technology in Education, and he has been an advisor for numerous companies and nonprofits, including Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Most recently, Kimball served as an education strategist for the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. He also is active in the Consortium for School Networking’s “Empowering the 21st Century Superintendent” initiative.
Kimball has written several articles and books on technology in education. He developed the Technology Maturity Model, a methodology for effective technology planning, and created the Technology Support Index, a comprehensive tool for technical support.