Located in Charlotte, North Carolina, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) is the second largest school district in the state and the 18th largest in the U.S. CMS’s mission is to provide academic instruction, rigor, and support to more than 146,000 K-12 students in 168 schools throughout the cities and towns of Mecklenburg County.
In 2014, as part of its mission to maximize academic achievement, CMS initiated its Strategic Plan 2018: For a Better Tomorrow. The plan consists of six goals, including a goal of preparing students to be leaders in a technologically savvy and globally competitive world. Familiarity with technology is an essential part of preparing students for life after high school, whether that means attending college, starting a career, or joining the military.
Part of the Strategic Plan 2018 includes bringing digital learning to all students by 2018 and to have a 1:1 ratio of students to digital devices. This means that every student will have access to a digital device (laptop, tablet, or other e-learning device) at school.
In 2014, CMS began equipping each of its 30,000 middle school students in 30 different schools with a Chromebook™ laptop. In 2015, grades 5, 9, and 10 were added. Plans are in place for the continued roll-out of digital devices to all grade levels up through 2018.
Chief Technology, Personalized Learning, and Engagement Officer Valerie Truesdale stated, “The first step was the conversion to digital learning at all middle schools. We chose middle schools for several reasons. First, we had an investment in digital tech books and needed devices to support middle school science and social studies classes. Providing mobile learning devices helps personalize learning. CMS also nurtures teacher skills in instructional technology by providing professional development facilitators at each middle school.”
Research has shown that middle-grade students can experience a loss of proficiency when they leave elementary school. Therefore, CMS has used technology to address these challenges by engaging middle school students and providing opportunities for extended learning.