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P-12

School : Clark County School District

District : Clark County School District

State : Nevada

Level : P-12

District Enrollment : 40,001+ students

Community Type : Urban

Related Tags : professional learning

BLAST Professional Development

Based in Las Vegas, NV, the Clark County School District is the fifth largest school district in the United States, spanning over 8000 square miles. In the state of Nevada, each county has one school district. As a result, there are large differences in the geography and size of districts. Clark County school district has over 300,000 students and 18,000 teachers in 357 schools. About 57% of those students are receiving free-and-reduced lunch.

The Challenge

After adopting the Common Core State Standards, which have been incorporated into the Nevada Academic Content Standards, there was the large number of teachers who needed to be trained in new standards, current pedagogy, and assessment possibilities. No one way of providing this training could be completely effective, given the number of teachers to be trained and the limited number of trainers available. Teachers, at various professional learning opportunities, expressed the desire for just-in-time information. When teachers are planning for upcoming standards-based instruction, they want to see “what it looks like,” they often need easy-to-find background information, and they want to know how to assess their students’ learning. That can be provided at a traditional workshop, but district leaders repeatedly heard the plea for resources accessible anywhere, anytime.

The Solution

Clark County School District started an innovative, online professional learning project called Bringing Learning and Standards Together (BLAST). It provides professional development for teachers through modules of the common core mathematics standards. Each module gives background information about a standard (or cluster of standards), assessment ideas, examples of student work, and common misconceptions. In creating content for the CCSS professional learning modules, the district considered existing professional learning resources and partnerships with other districts and professional organizations across Nevada and the United States. Curating and cross-referencing these resources, the BLAST project team created a rigorous process for small teams to develop and review research-based content for professional learning modules that was tailored to the needs of Clark County district instructors. BLAST was just one component of the professional learning available to math teachers. In this District, they have access to online coursework, university coursework, continuing education units, face-to-face workshops, and school-based professional learning communities. BLAST fills the gap for quick, just-in-time information. It is an efficient way to provide quality information and suggestions for large numbers of teachers.
Funding for BLAST was received through a grant from the Nevada Commission on Educational Technology, which administers legislature-provided funds to promote educational technology in the state. Additionally, the program received funding for a few devices, software, two-full time instructional support positions to run blast, and extra-duty pay for teachers who help write modules or who consent to classroom observations and recordings.
Within the first nine months of launching BLAST, Clark County district witnessed significant amounts of daily activity, as revealed by quantitative and qualitative data. In 2012, Edmodo ranked Clark County among the 10 most collaborative districts nationally. The district and BLAST project team are using this feedback to inform planning of future modules.

Tips

  • Develop rigorous process for evaluation of professional learning modules.
  • Determine how quantitative and qualitative data will be collected, analyzed, and used to inform project planning.
  • Provide opportunities to discuss and review examples of student work.


Additional Resources

From Clark County School District:

From the U.S. Department of Education:

District Point of Contact

Phone: (702) 799-2039
Email: Ccsdclassroomtech.net

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