Can superintendents sustain school initiatives and help students excel?

supes-schoolsA second-grader furrows her brow, searching her keyboard to find that funny number sign for her password. A third-grader holds her Chromebook aloft, hoping to speed the connection to a wireless router. A high school teacher puts his iPad in a drawer, having wasted precious minutes taking attendance on a new system with no success.

Educational technology, for all its potential, is riddled with glitches and startup pains, especially when you’re among the first to trade pencils for tablets. Yet some pioneering school leaders insist that thrusting schools into the digital Petri dish is imperative for students’ success.

These leaders–from places such as Overland Park, Kan., and Middletown, N.Y.–risk upsetting staff and budget watchdogs by following their conviction that innovation with technology can help teachers target learning and help students master basic skills. They forge ahead, piloting programs, building digital curricula, enabling enthusiastic teachers and dragging the reluctant ones into the new age.

(Next page: How superintendents are ensuring schools move forward)