What is the California Emerging Technology Fund?

The California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF) is a statewide non-profit organization the California Public Utilities Commission ordered to be founded in approving mergers of SBC-AT&T and Verizon-MCI in 2005.  AT&T and Verizon agreed to contribute funds to launch CETF with a mission to close the Digital Divide in California.  

What is the relationship of CETF and School2Home?

School2Home is the signature education initiative of CETF.   CETF raises and manages funds and provides overall management oversight to ensure accountability.  This relationship significantly reduces the costs of School2Home as overhead costs are shared with other CETF mission-related programs.

Does School2Home provide direct services?

Yes.  School2Home provides a proven methodology for integrating technology to improve student outcomes as well as implementation resources including funding, tools, and staffing.  Professional development for teachers and parent engagement workshops provide frameworks for successful outcomes.  

What is School2Home?

School2Home, designed to address the Achievement Gap and the Digital Divide, is a proven intervention for integrating technology into teaching, learning, and parent engagement into low-performing Middle Schools in high poverty neighborhoods.  The School2Home methodology consists of 10 interrelated Core Components, including the provision of a digital device for all students to use at school and at home; robust parent engagement and digital literacy trainings; on-going professional development and coaching for teachers; statewide Leadership Academies and local communities of practice.

Why is School2Home needed?

The persistent lack of access to world-class educational resources and technology has stranded too many young people in the California without the skills they need for a well-paying job.  Because technology and STEM jobs are growing 70% faster than non-STEM jobs, the state must move quickly address the “skills gap” to sustain its economic growth.  This starts by increasing the number of high quality schools in the state and increasing parent engagement in their child’s education.

However, schools serving families in poverty face many challenges.  Integrating technology into the fabric of a school culture is not an easy task for any school; it is especially difficult in high poverty schools.  Yet, the leaders responsible for this change management process are also fulfilling many other roles—logistical, budgetary, and instructional—to establish the conditions that support teaching and learning and improved student outcomes.  That is why School2Home is so important.  It builds the capacity of these to leverage their technology investments to meet specific academic, parent engagement, and school climate goals.

Aren’t schools already investing in technology for their students, teachers, and parents?

Yes, many schools and districts in California are upgrading Wi-Fi networks and investing in digital devices, student information systems, and technology applications.  However, research demonstrates that these investments are of limited value for academic engagement, if students do not have access to these tools at home and if teachers do not know how to effectively use them.

In addition, California has adopted the Common Core curricula and Smarter Balanced Assessments, which are designed to foster and measure the kind of problem solving, deeper comprehension, and higher-order thinking that students need to be successful in a digital world. Yet, for students lacking access to resources that support this kind of learning, these policy changes have created a vicious cycle that exacerbates existing inequities.  To the degree that deeper learning and technology skills remain unavailable to students of color and children of low-income families, troubling educational equity issues will persist.  Finally, the school accountability dashboard report, which is based on the state’s 8 priorities, is designed to help parents make better choices for their children by providing a range of information about the school’s performance.  The dashboard also helps parents hold schools accountable for results.  However, these dashboards are almost useless to parents who lack digital devices, digital literacy, and broadband at home.

What kind of staffing support does School2Home provide to schools?

Because School2Home was formulated to meet the needs of low-performing schools, the program provides capacity building services and implementation support by dedicated program managers, who are experts in the area of instructional technology and parental/family engagement and community partners.  These managers and partners work with school leadership teams to facilitate proper planning, implementation, evaluation, and sustainability to seed a culture of success that extends beyond the initial 3.5-year program period.  Community partners also help contextualize School2Home to meet specific neighborhood needs and ensure lasting success. 

What kind of financial support does School2Home provide to schools?

As part of the planning process, School2Home works with schools to develop a detailed agreement that clarifies the responsibilities for the provision of each of the 10 components.  In general, School2Home requires schools to identify a school leadership team, provide digital devices for students  (which can be taken home), paid leave time for the professional learning activities for teachers, a half-time technology coach, and the data required for pre-, post-, and ongoing evaluation.  In return, School2Home provides professional learning training, parent training, student tech support classes, leadership academies, and an array of online resources and implementation tools and supports.   As well, School2Home helps parents learn about the affordable broadband options in their community and how to get online.

How much does School2Home cost?

On average, the program cost $1,000 per student, and this per student cost is declining as the price of digital devices drop.  (Devices and related software account for about half of the total program cost.)   With the growing availability of online open learning resources, schools can use funding for textbooks and materials to purchase digital devices—a win/win for everyone.  CETF raises funds from private and philanthropic sources to cover the School2Home share of the expenses.  Over the course of the 3.5-year implementation, School2Home works with the School Leadership Team to develop sustainability plan so the culture of success and innovation continues.

How is School2Home implemented?

While the implementation may vary widely depending on the size of the schools, a typical timeline is 3.5 years, which includes a 6-month planning and assessment period to develop baseline information and ensure there is buy-in from all key stakeholders.  A detailed work plan is developed during this phase, which is incorporated into the Local California Accountability Plan (LCAP).  After the planning period, in Year 1, all 6th grade teachers receive professional support and coaching; in Year 2, all grade 7 teachers are trained; and in Year 3, the grade 8 teachers are brought into the fold. Each year, all parents of incoming 6th graders receive the School2Home Digital Literacy Training.  Principal Leadership Training is provided throughout the entire implementation.  Mouse Squad (the Student Tech Component) is started in the first year and continues throughout the implementation.  The School2Home Leadership Team meets monthly with the School2Home Program Manager to review progress on the work plan, which is updated annually.  Community Partners help identify other resources that can complement and extend the benefits of School2Home.

Is School2Home the same as a 1-to-1 Laptop Program?

Yes, and no.  The program builds on lessons learned from successful 1-to-1 programs (in low-performing schools) from around the world.  These lessons underscore the fact that technology is not an end in itself but rather a tool for learning.  Research on successful interventions stress the critical importance of strong principal and district support; meaningful professional learning activities for teachers as well as on-going coaching support to help fully incorporate technology into both classroom and homework assignments; and a device for each student to use at home and at school.  Lacking any of these components, technology integration programs were only marginally successful.  Of note, School2Home builds on decades of research that demonstrates the power of parent/family engagement to improve student outcomes, and that technology can help parents communicate with teachers, monitor their child’s assignments and grades, and participate with their child’s homework, the latter of which is the most significant in terms of student achievement.

School2Home was also built on lessons learned from many successful Digital Inclusion Programs.  These findings helped designers structure the School2Home Parent Engagement Component in a culturally competent manner, recognizing that many of the parents have limited English and technology experience as well a limited time during the school day to visit the school.  It is important to note that the School2Home staff continually monitors research from others to learn more about practices most essential to student success.  Each of the 10 components has research evidence to back it up, and each is continually updated to keep up with changes in technology, policy and neighborhood context.

How does School2Home support California's vision for education?

California policymakers undertook a series of policy changes starting in 2010 to address the persistent Achievement Gap and the need to graduate more students equipped with the 21st Century Skills they need for college and careers.  Even a cursory review of some of the key changes, noted below, support the need for technology to be integrated into all aspects of teaching, learning, parent engagement, and new forms of assessments.  Students and parents lacking technology at home will have a difficult time benefitting from California’s efforts to improve access to high quality education.

  • Common Core Standards.  In 2010, California adopted the Common Core State Standards, which were designed to improve students' chances of success in college and careers by setting uniform standards for what students should know in math and English language arts by the end of each school year, and by the time they graduate from high school.  These expectations mandate a solid grounding in standards-based content, but also intentionally integrate proficiencies such as critical thinking, creativity and innovation, and self-direction.  Deeper Learning requires mastery of sophisticated information and communication technology (ICT) literacy, life skills, and opportunities for learning in today’s digital society.  The shift to Common Core not only alters what and how students learn, it also establishes new roles for teachers in the classroom, where they serve as educational designers, coaches, and facilitators, guiding students through active and collaborative learning activities.
  • Smarter Balanced Assessments.  Along with the Common Core Standards, California adopted the Smarter Balanced Assessments, a battery of tests in English language arts and math designed to assess how well students are doing in their subjects using Common Core standards.  These computer-based assessments require students to use computers to demonstrate their grasp of higher-order thinking.  California has renamed its testing system to the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP).
  • Local Control Funding.  Starting in the 2013-14 school year, the Local Control Funding Formula  (LCFF), California’s sweeping new school finance reform plan, was rolled out.  It provides School Districts with greater flexibility over the way they use state funding, which previously involved up to 50 different categorical grants.  LCFF provides supplemental funds to improve student outcomes in schools with high percentages of students who are English learners, eligible for free and reduced meals, and foster youth pupils.  These demographic groups of students are also the ones least likely to have access to technology in the home, and the schools they attend have historically been under-resourced. LCFF also established 8 state priorities that schools should strive to meet, providing a much more balanced approach to viewing student outcomes than was previously mandated by end-of-year test scores.
  • School Accountability Reporting:  To help parents, educators, and community members understand how an individual school is performing on a variety of measures, the California Department of Education has also, in 2017, adopted a new accountability system.  Instead of relying on a single measure (academic performance alone), the new system is based on rubrics on a variety of measures that relate to the state’s 8 priorities for education.  An “online dashboard” that includes information on these priorities enables parents to examine their child’s schools; however, this important new accountability tool is of little use to parents lacking digital tools and the skills to use them.

How does School2Home support California’s 8 priorities for education?

School2Home specifically addresses 6 of the 8 priorities, as briefly noted below, and indirectly supports the other 2 as well.

(1) Student Achievement:  Schools that have fully implemented School2Home have shown improvements in academic test score for math and English language arts.  Rigorous evaluations of other similar programs have shown significant gains in reading and science.  Having a device and broadband at home enables students to extend their learning and engage in personalized learning opportunities.

(2) Common Core:  The School2Home Professional Development and Coaching Components are designed to help teachers learn how to adapt their teaching to the common core curricula.

(3) Parent Engagement:  The Parent Engagement Component, which helps parents use technology to become learning partners with their child, is an especially unique part of School2Home. Parents learn to:  (1) use technology to remove barriers of distance and time to communicate with teachers and each other;  (2) monitor their child’s attendance, assignments, and online activities; (3) access vital online school, health, and social service information.

(4) Course Access: When students have access to technology in the home, schools can offer access to online digital courses that otherwise are not available. As well, schools can take advantage of specialized learning software targeted for English Language Learners, or high performers.

(5) Student Engagement:  Evaluation results from students have routinely demonstrated their support for School2Home.  Large percentages of students report that using technology has made school more interesting and engaging, and homework easier to complete.

(6) School Climate:  Most participating schools report an increase in attendance, and fewer disruptions during free time and lunch breaks (provided students can use their devices).


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