Intended Purpose of this Rubric
The North Carolina Digital Learning Progress Rubric for Schools is a strategic planning tool, or “roadmap,” intended to support North Carolina’s educators, schools, districts, and communities in the transition to digital-age teaching and learning. The rubric describes a vision for a high quality, digital-age school, and is designed especially to help school teams reflect on the current stage of their transition, create sustainable plans, experiment with innovations, determine next steps, and track their progress. It is hoped that one day this rubric will no longer be needed – that the strategic, careful use of digital tools to create deep learning opportunities for all students will be a normal part of the every-day work in classrooms, schools, and districts across North Carolina.
In fact, at its core, this rubric is intended to support the proliferation of high quality instruction, with digital programs and materials functioning as one set of tools among many at the teachers’ and learners’ disposal. The infrastructure, human capital, and knowledge base to most effectively and efficiently use digital tools is currently being built by schools, districts, and the state. This rubric specifically operates within that construction and transition process.
This rubric is not a brand new instrument and planning tool, but is a continuation of many years of work initiated by the North Carolina Governor’s Office, General Assembly, and State Board of Education, with support from Golden Leaf Foundation and SAS, and carried out by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation, and countless educational leaders in classrooms, schools, districts, foundations, nonprofits, universities, and others across North Carolina. The effort began with The School Connectivity Initiative and has grown through programs like the North Carolina Learning Technology Initiative and the IMPACT Model Program. While North Carolina is nationally recognized as a leader in K-12 digital learning, much more work remains to be done. The development and implementation of the 2016 North Carolina Digital Learning Plan, which includes the creation of this school-level rubric, constitutes the current phase of the state’s continuous, collective effort to provide high quality digital learning opportunities for all students from Murphy to Manteo.
Guide for Use
Due to the complex, systemic nature of integrating digital teaching and learning into the daily work of a school, it is critical that this rubric be used not by an individual at a school, but by a representative school leadership team. If it is used by one or two school staff to make isolated and insulated decisions, the final results will be smaller, weaker, and possibly shorter-lived than they could have been with a more challenging but ultimately more effective democratic decision-making process. School leadership team representatives could include, for example: principal, bookkeeper, school library media coordinator, instructional technology facilitator, instructional coach(es), subject-area teacher representatives, grade-level teacher representatives, and student representatives, among others.
This rubric contains four main areas: Leadership; Professional Learning; Content and Instruction; and Data and Assessment. Each main area is broken down into three to six key elements (e.g., “Shared Vision,” “Professional Development Format,” etc.).
Members of a school leadership team can work individually to rate their school, followed by a process of either combining these individual scores or coming to consensus to create a single set of schoolwide ratings. Or the leadership team may meet several times to collectively rate their school’s progress on each of the 18 key elements. The team may rate their school’s progress as either “Early,” “Developing,” “Advanced,” or “Target.” The more data (quantitative or qualitative, formal or informal, etc.) that can be used to inform the ranking process, the more accurate and effective the strategic planning process will be. These data can continue to be collected, perhaps annually, to compare changes over time.
To make the scoring system the most effective, the following rule should be used: all indicators (sub-bullets) within a particular cell should be able to be marked as “achieved” for a district to give itself the particular ranking assigned to that cell (Early, Developing, Advanced, or Target). For example, if the district has achieved two of three indicators listed in the Advanced cell, then the district should rank itself as Developing. The district can rank itself as Advanced once it has achieved all three indicators listed. To support this process, a scoring sheet is provided in Appendix A.
Throughout the rubric subjective words like “few,” “many,” “occasionally,” or “frequently” are used. This document is intended to be used as a planning guide, not as an accountability tool. For this reason schools and districts may each decide what the most effective definition of those terms is for their own organizations. To support the process of rubric interpretation, a glossary of over 50 terms is provided in Appendix B.
Once an assessment of the school’s progress has been completed, the leadership team should reflect on the results and identify priority areas for improvement and plans for sustainability. The team might ask, “What are our priority areas for right now? What are one to three action steps that can be taken to move closer to achieving our desired goals? What structures need to be put in place now so that this work can continue into the foreseeable future?” To support this process, a data interpretation guide is provided in Appendix C.
NOTE: Every school and district in North Carolina must identify and comply with all relevant federal (e.g., FERPA, CIPA), state, and local laws related to digital teaching and learning.