Superintendent Offers Roadmap to Digital Conversion with New Book Every Child, Every Day as District Catapults to #2 in the State; Graduation Rates Jump from 64% to 90%

Los Angeles, CA, February 22, 2013. Pearson congratulates Dr. Mark Edwards, School Superintendent at Mooresville Graded School District, North Carolina who was named Superintendent of the Year yesterday by the American Association of School Administrators during its annual conference.

AASA executive director Daniel Domenech said, “Mark Edwards is exactly the kind of superintendent we need to carry public education deep into the 21st century. He gets it. He has combined the savvy to lead a digital revolution in his schools with the wisdom to know that teachers teach their best and children learn their best in an environment that promotes mutual caring and respect.”

“Mark Edwards saw early on that new technologies provide us with greater visibility into each student’s learning and actionable data to personalize the education path for every child,” said Pearson’s Scott Drossos. “This inside look at data will be the key to transforming education not only here in America, but throughout the world.” He continued, “All of us at Pearson join in congratulating Dr. Edwards on this great honor recognizing his remarkable leadership and immense contribution to the future of education.”

In 2007, Dr. Edwards made the bold move to swap out textbooks for digital learning, with the intent of creating a “culture of digital conversion” for every student, every teacher and every administrator in Mooresville. In just five years, the transformation for this small district has been astounding — even to Edwards — and is reflected in the incredible gains his students have made:

 Mooresville catapulted from #109 to the #2 district in the state (while 99th of 115 districts in state funding)
 Graduation Rates have skyrocketed from 64% to 90%;
 3rd grade reading scores jumped to 94% on grade level [African-Americans to 92%; Hispanic students to 91%]
 Biology scores up from 68% to 93%
 Overall 3rd grade math scores improved from 80 to 95% for all students, including from 50% to 92% for African-Americans; from 70.9% to 91% for Hispanic students; and from 58% to 92% for Special Needs students.

Add in these factors:
 During this 5-year period, the local poverty rate increased 25%, but
 Disciplinary actions dropped 50% since students are more engaged
 And, real estate values have increased because parents want the Mooresville experience for their children!
 All of this at the affordable cost of $1.25 per student per day.

Mooresville’s academic improvements and success in establishing a “culture of caring and change” have been touted nationally, and Edwards has now documented the roadmap for what he calls “digital conversion” in a new book, Every Child, Every Day, published by Pearson.

Edwards adopts a new vocabulary to tell the story of his “digital conversion” – terms like: “teaching from the inside out,” “cognition ignition,” “productive hum,” “calm urgency,” “tactile-cuing,” “negaholics,” “pervasive efficacy” and describing teachers as “roaming conductors of learning.”

Edwards notes that the digital conversion especially benefits struggling and at-risk students, inspiring increased confidence levels and building a desire for learning.

As a first mover in US schools’ shift to digital, Edwards focuses on the proof points evident in the data documenting his students’ gains in academic outcomes. He says “We describe our instruction process as ‘precise intervention’ now that we rely on digital formative data. Everyone in the district is using data to inform what they do every day.” He depicts the data analytics his district relies upon for instruction and decisions as “the jet fuel of efficacy.”

At a White House conference, Edwards said, “We have been able to leverage the use of digital data to inform teachers and to bring precision with intervention. And we’ve also been able to build collaboration and a convergence of teachers, students, family and community working together – which students feel every day. I really do believe that the key to this has been a sense of spirit of working together to make a difference.”

Edwards’ work in Mooresville has won bipartisan support. In the foreword to Every Child, Every Day, former Governors Bob Wise and Jeb Bush say: “The inspiring account describes how Dr. Edwards empowered a team of caring and committed educators to rethink old approaches and reinvent learning for their students.” And they note, “By leading a continuous process of strategic planning, he was able to create an educational model for the rest of the nation. Such transformations are easy to dismiss as too difficult to replicate in today’s challenging budget climates. But Dr. Edwards proves that it is possible as long as leaders establish priorities, align resources to clear goals, and thoughtfully reallocate resources.”

One Mooresville high schooler sums up his experience, “We know much more than what’s on the tests — not only the “what” but the “why.” We get many perspectives on whatever it is that we are learning and this “why” knowledge seems to stick better than simply memorizing the facts.”


About the Author:

Laura Ascione

Laura Ascione is the Managing Editor, Content Services at eSchool Media. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland's prestigious Philip Merrill College of Journalism. When she isn't wrangling her two children, Laura enjoys running, photography, home improvement, and rooting for the Terps. Find Laura on Twitter: @eSN_Laura