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Learning Technology Grant Program Overview: Rochester City School District

Award Years: 2021-2024

Personalized Learning: Accelerate, Exceed, and Champion

The Rochester City School District (RCSD) is a large, urban school district that serves approximately 23,400 students in kindergarten through 12th grade across 46 schools.  RCSD students have diverse backgrounds and significant instructional needs. Nine out of every ten RCSD students are students of color; 53% are Black/African American, 33% are Hispanic/Latino, 3% are Asian, 2% are Biracial, and 9% are White.  Most RCSD students (81%) are eligible for free and reduced-price lunch, 21% are Students With Disabilities (SWDs), and 15% are English Language Learners (ELLs).  RCSD families speak 60 languages, and 5.7% of students were born outside of the country.  NWEA scores collected in Winter 2021 project that only 13.3.% of RCSD students in grades 3-8 will be proficient on NYS 3-8 assessments in English Language Arts (ELA) and only 8.3% will be proficient in math.  Less than two-thirds of RCSD’s 2017 Cohort (63.6% ) are “on track” for 2021 graduation as determined by accumulation of 16 high school course credits and earning passing scores on three (3) Regents exams.  Their learning must be personalized, student-centered, and responsive to family and cultural experiences so that students can engage actively in their education.  RCSD’s project, Personalized Learning: Accelerate, Exceed, and Champion, will help Rochester educators become champions of personalized learning and culturally responsive instruction.  Project activities will support all of the District’s 46 schools, along with seven (7) Rochester non-public schools. The seven non-public schools serve approximately 1,712 students.

Rochester’s project includes two goals and initiatives:

  • GOAL 1 (Accelerate): To deliver high quality professional learning opportunities that will help Rochester educators integrate effective personalized learning strategies into daily instruction
  • GOAL 2 (Exceed): To use high quality online course materials and resources to personalize virtual and in-person learning in secondary schools and meet the needs of Rochester’s diverse student population.

As part of the Accelerate initiative, more than 3,100 K-12 teachers in all RCSD schools will be able to participate in a diversity of professional development that will improve their skills in personalized learning and the creation of culturally and linguistically responsive learning environments.  These professional learning experiences will be offered in multiple modalities, including professional development courses that include opportunities for classroom implementation and subsequent reflection, book circles, an EdCamp “unconference,” and an Administrator Technology Summit. The admin technology summit will be a virtual conference with speakers from across the country benefiting approximately 125 Rochester City School district administrators,  and is open to non-public administrators covered by the grant.

In the Exceed initiative, high quality, online course resources will be created for courses that are taken by students in grades 8-12.  These course materials will support the shift to more personalized learning for RCSD’s 7,400 high school students, including students attending the Virtual Academy of Rochester and The District’s traditional secondary schools.  More than 300 teachers will have access to these materials and will be able to participate in targeted professional learning that will focus on their implementation and use.

Rochester’s project will begin with a planning period, during which the Project Management Team, Accelerate and Exceed course developers and designated non-public school staff will gain expertise in personalized learning and equity from The Learning Innovation Catalyst (LINC) professional development.  LINC’s professional learning cycles are based on the research of Dr. Arnetha Ball at Stanford University and her Model of Generative Change, along with the PAACC (Personalization, Agency, Authenticity, Connectivity, and Creativity) Hallmarks of Effective Practice.  This core team will turnkey their learning and ensure in-District expertise and capacity to sustain project goals and activities beyond the grant period.

Course materials will be shared with out-of-district schools via the RCSD Learns website. Additional resources for students and parents will also be available on RCSD Learns.

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