Delaware was first – specifically, to ratify the US constitution. It was also, more recently, the first place winner in the 2010 Race to the Top competition to win federal grants aimed at putting technology to work to improve education.

Being first (a motto emblazoned on state license plates) means something big in Delaware. The mindset empowers action. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the state’s aggressive push to use ed tech to improve public education for all students.

Vision + dedication to teachers put Delaware on the leading edge

In 2005-2006, key Delaware leaders from business, government, education and community groups came together to formulate a bold vision for educational excellence. That effort led to Vision 2015 – a specific plan to secure a high-quality education for every child in the state by 2015. Delaware was not the first state to develop such a plan, of course. But what has kept the state at the front of the pack of states using ed tech to drive systemic improvements in schools is an unwavering focus on both the original vision and on the major components of that original plan.

Delaware’s willingness to put budget against Vision 2015 goals, along with its commitment to empower teachers with the skills to use technology and data as a key enabler of improvement, have been almost unique. Some key examples include:

  • A winning Race to the Top proposal which specified key components designed to empower educators and parents with meaningful information to help chart student success.
  • The fast track development and roll out of the Education Insight system, which gives educators a one-stop shop for holistic information about student strengths and areas of need, and a way to listen to the multitude of facts about a student and make sense of it quickly.
  • A rollout plan that recognizes that data and systems don’t solve problems, people do. Explicit recognition of the need for teacher support has meant that Delaware couples technology with effective coaching and support for educators.

It may be this final step — explicit focus on teacher support (and by extension, student impact) — that puts Delaware so firmly on the leading edge of data-driven education reforms that change outcomes in the classroom. A recent US Department of Education blog post highlights Delaware’s practices. As quoted throughout the post, educators in various schools note the importance and impact of Delaware’s professional learning communities, which bring educators together for weekly meetings to review student data and to discuss using it to improve instruction. That collaboration has proven to be powerful in helping educators diagnose and act on the issues they see. “We’re looking at the student data and getting right at the heart of what’s happening with all of our students” says one educator.

In helping teachers so quickly master the power of data to get to the heart of students’ needs, Delaware serves as a leading example of efficient progress and promising classroom impact. We applaud their diligence and look forward to the next phase of their work launch.