November News from GG4L

Since our last newsletter we had an official kick-off of our Safer Schools in America webinar series with a focus on Physical Campus Security, Emergency Preparedness and Management and Digital Safety.  In this newsletter we will be focusing on the issues of Physical Campus Security and Emergency Preparedness and Management and what you can do to make improvements at your schools. If you missed our webinars, please check out the links below to view the recorded sessions.  And don’t forget it’s not too late to apply to fund your school safety projects with our On-Demand Grant program.  Apply now for an On-Demand grant.

Webinars:

Physical Campus Security

Emergency Preparedness and Management

Future-Proof District IT-Infrastructure

Click here to read the full newsletter.

EdTech’s Role in Physical Campus Security

The safety of our students and staff is of utmost importance. Not only do schools serve as places of learning but they’re also community gathering places and centers of refuge during times of crisis. Technology providers have developed a number of solutions that replace paper and pencil solutions of the past; these include: keyless entry systems, security cameras, cashless campuses, facial monitoring, picture ID badges that grant access and record movements for students, staff and volunteers, electronic hall passes, single touch emergency badges, etc. Schools are adopting a number of them, but there are challenges.

Providing Campus Security Is a Tall Order

“Schools want to do right by the students, but they only have x number of dollars to spend. They want to find tools and technologies that maximize their impact with the limited dollars they have.” – Pat Bhava, CEO of PikMyKid.

Schools are trying to be more forward-thinking in how they deliver education, but that means students are not just in traditional classrooms. They’re using their buildings in new ways, and students are moving around more. Principals want to know where students are. They’re concerned about hall pass abuse, mischief in bathrooms, vaping, and other safety concerns that schools need to address on a daily basis, including student accountability and creating a safe environment.

Active shooter and violent critical incidents are top of mind. They make the news. But it’s the everyday stuff that happens that presents the greatest challenges, such as power going out, water not working. Many schools have no plan for those emergencies.” – Erik Endress, CEO of Share911

Challenges of Delivering Efficient Campus Security

Before education can happen, students need to feel safe, so campus security is of paramount importance. But on the part of administrators, there also needs to be an acceptance that bad things can happen. There is no exempt community. And there’s more to keeping the campus safe than just putting together a “what-if” plan. Schools are forced to consider how they’ll deal with injuries, what they’ll do if students and teachers are on lockdown for several hours with no access to bathrooms, and how they’ll reunify students with parents once the crisis is over.

Nathan Hammond, CEO at Eduspire, identified three things that are often overlooked in developing stronger campus security:

  • Working more closely with the community
  • Obtaining teacher buy-in to new procedures and ways of doing things
  • Moving beyond institutional thinking and stop repeating procedures that have been in place for 30-40 years

The Role of Technology

While there are many analog resources – audits, checklists, guidelines, reports – they still make school principals and administrators use paper.  What can EdTech do to save time, money, make teachers more efficient and make the school more effective with campus security?

“Technology can really create dynamic safety enhancements and efficiencies. For example, for the last 50 years, schools have used hall passes. By simply converting to a digital hall pass system, the school suddenly has access to a whole new set of data about hall traffic, minutes students are spending outside the classroom. You can see patterns. You can find students when there is an emergency. You can use the data to identify students who may be struggling and need a counselor.” – Nathan Hammond, CEO, Eduspire.

Since Sandy Hook, there has been a total explosion of people trying to keep people safer in schools and workplaces. In just five years, we now have artificial intelligence, facial recognition, license plate readers, and weapons detection. The trick is how to connect everything together so that you don’t have eight different solutions all related to safety but deployed separately. There needs to be a unified platform that a school can use to tie all of the solutions together into a single system.

What Schools Can Do Now to Improve Campus Security at No Cost

  • Talk to your teachers. Hear what they need.
  • Mine existing data. Look for patterns in behavior.
  • Be proactive in the way you think about campus security. Don’t assume it can’t happen at your school.
  • Look at the after-action responses taken by other schools who have experienced incidents and analyze what your school would do in the situation. Identify any weak points.
  • Take full advantage of free resources that are available to help.

One of the biggest challenges that schools face is inadequate funding. How do they pay for the technology they need to make their schools safer? And how do they know the investment they are making is worthwhile? Physical campus security is one of the most important considerations of any principal or school administrator, but meeting the need means overcoming funding issues. Consider applying for a Safer Schools in America on-demand grant. We offer on-demand grants to allow schools to conduct a one-year pilot of an EdTech solution that will help make their school safer.

Challenges Schools Face in Emergency Preparedness and Management

There are a number of challenges that school districts are facing in regard to emergency preparedness and management, but one of the biggest is a lack of resources – whether physical, personnel, or financial. Tactical challenges also present themselves to schools. What needs to happen in the event of an emergency? Schools want to be in the know. Schools want data. They want to know who is in the school building and where they are precisely. Who is in the bathroom? Who is on the playground? How do we equip schools with the information they need to protect everyone?

Some emergencies are unavoidable, but schools really do want to focus on prevention. As mandates are handed down, schools are forced to form threat assessment teams and prepare themselves to stop incidents from happening, which requires more time and resources that districts may or may not have. With an increase of 700% of threats across the board at most schools, having the necessary tools in place is overwhelming.

What Are Districts Missing?

Because academic schedules only allow so much time for drills and preparation, school administrators must spend more time focusing on those emergencies that will most likely impact their schools. They need to also spend more time identifying stakeholders who might be impacted and means of getting parents to play a more active role in the preparation.

Most schools are overlooking the importance of prioritizing the types of emergencies they are most likely to experience and the ones that would be most disruptive, and then running suitable drills. While an active shooter is the most-often discussed danger, there are more common emergencies that happen to schools that require further preparation.

What Role Can Technology Play in Emergency Preparedness and Management?

Technology is playing a huge role in how schools can digitize their plans, to better prepare for and respond to emergencies. For example, when you think just of the critical responsibility placed on the school to reunify parents with students after an event, technology makes the biggest difference. Reunification of students with parents is a complex and painstaking operation, but technology has proven to be a tool that saves time, reduces risk, and puts students back in their parents’ arms more quickly.

Furthermore, as part of your emergency response plan, you need a shared operating picture. Everyone must have access to the same data and be able to see the same things. Data tends to be siloed – in schools, fire departments, and police departments. Getting everyone on the same page is essential for a more effective response. Technology makes that happen, taking what is currently housed in those bulky 3-ring binders that everyone’s response plan is in and making it digital and accessible to everyone. Let’s face it: Everyone is going to grab their phone in an emergency; no one is going to think about grabbing the 30-pound binder off the shelf.

Technology is still new to some schools. They may not have IT departments or even an IT person on site. They may worry about IT infrastructure implementation and management, so when they are looking for appropriate technologies, they need them not only to save money and time, but also to be manageable. By prioritizing what is most likely to impact their schools, they can choose solutions that slowly introduce technology and address emergency management with minimal burden.

That’s where GG4L comes in. School Passport is an enterprise-grade Single Sign-On (SSO) and Identity Management Platform (IDM) delivered for free to member schools as an add-on to GG4L® Connect. School Passport helps school districts securely and cost-effectively distribute third-party EdTech applications and content to students and staff using SSO, IDM, and Identity Federation services.

Sacred Heart School Implements KeepnTrack to Better Manage Visitors, Volunteers, and Students

As a preschool, elementary, and high school, Sacred Heart School is an independent group of Catholic institutions located in California. Under a curriculum guided by its mission and educational philosophy, Sacred Heart provides opportunities for students in every aspect of the learning experience. Sacred Heart School was looking for a better way to track, manage, and report on everyone who stepped foot in their campus. In the past, Sacred Heart’s Special Projects educator, Kelly Wood, would manually record volunteer hours and student tardy slips by hand. Additionally, the school’s visitors were able to roam the school without any identification after signing in at the front desk.

The Challenge

Kelly found the task of manually recording, managing, and entering parent volunteer hours tedious and time-consuming, especially when trying to calculate total hours for volunteers. Furthermore, there was a growing concern when it came to tracking and managing school visitors. Visitors were allowed to roam the school without any identification after signing in at the front desk. Kelly and Sacred Heart administrators were looking for an added layer of security to identify visitors and quickly deny entrance to potential threats. Lastly, Kelly oversaw student attendance. Like volunteer hours, Kelly manually recorded and managed student tardy slips—another time-consuming task that required meticulous reporting. Kelly was in search of a student, volunteer, and visitor software solution all rolled in one that could save her time and improve their sign-in processes.

The Solution

Sacred Heart School turned to KeepnTrack for a solution.  KeepnTrack provides a visitor, volunteer, and student management software that allows administrators to efficiently monitor all people entering and exiting their campus. KeepnTrack is a campus management solution that benefits schools by:

  • Increasing efficiency through enabling visitors to automatically register themselves with a simple scan of their driver’s license. The system then prints color-coded badges to give administrators the ability to differentiate each visitor, volunteer, or student.
  • Reducing administrative cost through eliminating staff time that is wasted manually calculating volunteer hours, tracking volunteer activities, checking in visitors, organizing paper documents, or attempting to locate historical records.
  • Mitigating liability through replacing unreliable paper sign-in forms with dynamic reports created from electronic documentation. Identify threats before they gain access to your campus by running instant sex offender and criminal background checks.

The Results                                                         

“KeepnTrack has helped our school for many years. We started using it from the very beginning before it was web-based and it was just a software solution from a very small company. We use it for parent check-in and keeping track of parent volunteer hours. Students also use it to check-in when getting a tardy. Over the years it has evolved in helping for security purposes,” said Kelly Wood, Sacred Heart School.

By implementing KeepnTrack, Sacred Heart School has streamlined their volunteer program by automating all data collection, calculation, and storage while removing the potential for human error. The program also tracks hours and expenses for tax and reporting purposes so Kelly can access data at any point to boost fundraising efforts.

The school has taken a proactive approach to campus safety by using KeepnTrack to vet every individual who enters their campus while storing their information about their visit. Each visitor’s information is screened against the national sex offender registry. If any possible matches are found, an onsite staff member is immediately notified.

Digital Content vs. Student Outcomes

Schools and school districts have invested significantly in the use of digital resources and content over the years. The question that arises from this investment is whether the end justifies the means. In short, is it making an impact on student achievement?

Chilton County Schools is endeavoring to answer that question by combining extensive data analytics with resource usage tracking. Located in Clanton, Alabama, midway between Birmingham and Montgomery, Chilton County was awarded a five-year grant from a local philanthropist to fund this endeavor. This grant provided funding for the implementation of the Global Grid for Learning (GG4L) managed access solution known as Passport and the GG4L Compass data analytics solution.

Kim Arrington, Chilton County’s Chief Technology Officer, said, “Taking on an endeavor such as this requires a significant commitment by the district to be successful.” The key to Chilton County’s efforts to date has been a well-trained and dedicated team of school-based technology specialists. These classroom teachers dedicate a portion of their day to working with other teachers in each school to ensure that staff and students alike are able to maximize the use of technology resources.

The project started with Compass, as a tool to collect data from a variety of sources and both organize it and disaggregate it so that staff can zero in on student achievement across the curriculum and at the standard or objective level within given content areas. “Compass gives our staff a single place to drill into academic achievement, student attendance, and behavior, whether you’re a classroom teacher or a school or district administrator,” added Arrington.

Next came the Passport managed access solution. “Using many different resources in the classroom can be challenging” says Arrington. Passport gives staff and students a place from which to launch all their applications, without needing to re-enter user login information each time a resource is accessed. But Passport does more than provide easy access to digital resources. It is a means to an end, where data about resource usage is captured. “Passport gives us the who, what, when, and where of digital resource and content usage.” said Arrington. We can now combine this data with the achievement data we’re seeing in Compass to begin to measure the efficacy of these resources.

“We’re still fairly early into this initiative, but as time goes by and we gather more data, we’ll be able to maximize our investment in educational technology,” concluded Arrington.

GG4L LAUNCHES ON-DEMAND GRANTS FOR SAFER SCHOOLS IN AMERICA

On-Demand Grants Offer Same-Day Grant Funding Approval for US Schools

Alameda, CA, October 7, 2019 – Today, the Global Grid for Learning (GG4L), a Public Benefit Corporation, announced a new On-Demand Grant program available to all GG4L Member school districts. Through a simple online application, districts can apply to participate in the Safer Schools In America Impact Program. The grants fund the cost of the EdTech solutions that are aligned with the Safer Schools Framework in the GG4L Catalyst Catalog, for an annual school-wide license.

“Data-driven, evidence-informed decision making is essential for those charged with school safety and student wellness. We are thrilled to announce this On-Demand Grant program that enables any school to quickly deploy and validate any of the EdTech solutions that we have curated in our Catalyst Catalog for Safer Schools,” said Robert Iskander, GG4L’s founder and CEO. “This enables any school to fill the gaps, identified by the Safer Schools self-assessment tool, to make its campus safer.”

The grant-funded solutions will be deployed and validated for effectiveness over one or two semesters at no cost to the schools. In line with ESSA requirements, the GG4L Safer Schools initiative uses proven and independent measures of efficacy under an institutional quality research framework to establish best practices toward successful outcomes that can be shared nationally.

GG4L’s core data-driven integration technology, GG4L Connect, is used by thousands of schools across the world. GG4L Member districts are required to deploy the solutions funded by this Grant through GG4L Connect, which is free of cost to any K-20 school worldwide. For details on the On-Demand grant program, please visit https://gg4l.com/initiatives/safer-schools/.

About Global Grid for Learning (GG4L), PBC 

A membership-based collaborative that is free of charge to all education institutions and government agencies and available for a modest annual membership fee to any EdTech organization. GG4L leverages its Platform to create purpose-built integrated ecosystems of EdTech solutions, aimed at specific impact initiatives, that could be easily implemented, validated and sustained financially for schools around the world, as they together drive school improvement. To date, over 450 organizations, serving over 100,000 schools globally, have joined as GG4L Members and agreed to GG4L’s membership pledge to advocate for open data interoperability standards, secure data exchange and strict student data privacy compliance. For more information, refer to www.GG4L.com.

GG4L Media Contact:

Tricia Hawkins VP, Marketing tricia@GG4L.com (310) 971-5363

Safer Schools in America Impact Initiative Update

It has been an exciting start to the 2019-2020 school year. The SSIA Grant is now underway with 48 unique EdTech solutions addressing the various domains of school safety that are a focus of districts and schools across the US.

87 schools in 50 districts across the US will be testing solutions in the Safer Schools Framework, consisting of campus security, physical health and wellness, emotional and behavioral health, emergency preparedness and management, digital safety, community engagement, and healthy school and district culture. This represents nearly 194,429 students who are directly and indirectly impacted by this initiative.  We extend a huge welcome to our grantees and thank you for being part of this important look at how EdTech is working to make schools safer and more supportive of teaching and learning.

The research this grant enables will seek to provide information on a number of topics around the intersection of EdTech and school safety, such as:

  • What are districts are seeing as the most important safety issues?
  • What solutions they are currently using to address those issues?
  • Where does an EdTech solution seem like a good fit?

Another important question being explored is to determine how many new EdTech solutions a district feel it can reasonably implement without crossing into initiative fatigue or compromising implementation fidelity.

Look for those answers in upcoming newsletters. A tidbit you may find interesting is that early indicators are that campus security and emotional and behavioral health are the top domains of school safety that districts are focused on for this school year.

GG4L’s platform enables each school to track usage and outcomes data for each solution. The generated data will be aggregated, anonymized, and analyzed by both McREL and GG4L, who in turn provide quarterly reports to all stakeholders. This information can then be used to make decisions about the overall product impact and effectiveness of the initiative.  

GG4L Launches a Monthly Newsletter

Welcome to our first monthly GG4L newsletter.

You can read the full newsletter here.

We are pleased to share the latest news and success stories across our rapidly-growing membership base. As of the end of September 2019, our first anniversary since merging with EduTone, we are now in approximately 500 US school districts serving approximately 9,000 schools, and have attracted in excess of 75 EdTech company members to our platform. This is a validation of the value that both our Platform and impact initiatives deliver to the members of our Public Benefit Collaborative (PBC).

Most of our GG4L EdTech members have been aligned with the Safer Schools Framework and are participating in our $25-million grant for Safer Schools in America, which is now transitioning to an on-demand grant program open for all member schools to apply with a guarantee of a same-day approval. Once a school district joins as a GG4L Member, free of cost, any of its schools become eligible for a one-year, in-kind grant for any of the solutions listed in our Catalyst Catalog that participate in our On-Demand Grant Program.

We are also very proud of our Future-Proof Skills Program that is currently in the process of identifying and signing up 25 high schools that will be recognized as Centers of Excellence (CoE) across the United States. Each of these CoE’s will be our launchpad in various geographic regions to engage with local employers, higher education institutions, government agencies, and many other stakeholders to focus on showcasing several implementation models and deliver new certificated courses and programs that are aligned with a specific set of Technology, Business, and Personal Skills development and mastery. There is also a focus on Academic STEAM Skills courses that are included in the Catalyst Catalog. This program is expected to grow from 25 CoE’s to approximately 500 secondary schools by the end of 2020. We have several corporate sponsors and global technology partners in the pipeline that we plan to  announce in the coming months.

I am very proud of our experienced, hard-working GG4L team that is focused on our rapid growth and our mission to positively impact education at scale, through the frictionless adoption of our GG4L Platform to enable our member schools to deploy, validate, and sustain innovative EdTech solutions.

Robert

Read the full newsletter

New On-Demand Grants Now Available from GG4L

GG4L on-demand safe school grants

GG4L is thrilled to announce that although the 3-year grant is closed, we have launched a similar but shorter-term grant. On-Demand Safer Schools Grants enable a school or district to apply for and immediately be approved for an in-kind grant that lasts for one school year and can be used to place any EdTech solution from the Safer Schools Initiative into a school in that district. For details please go to https://gg4l.com/initiatives/

GG4L will be inviting schools to participate in grants that provide school safety EdTech solutions for a full school year. Each school grantee will be the recipient of an integrated suite of EdTech solutions that address school safety.  These solutions will be deployed, and measured for efficacy where appropriate, over a 12-month project period at no cost to the schools, excluding wholesale hardware costs were required to implement the SaaS solution.

Data-driven, evidence-informed decision making is essential for those charged with school safety and student wellness. In line with ESSA requirements, the Safer Schools Impact Initiative will use proven and independent measures of efficacy under an institutional quality research framework to establish best practices toward successful outcomes that can be shared nationally.

GG4L’s platform will enable each school to track usage and outcomes data for each solution. The generated data will be aggregated, anonymized, and analyzed by both McREL and GG4L, who in turn provide quarterly reports to all stakeholders. This information can then be used to make decisions about the overall product impact and effectiveness.

ScholarChip Enhances Student Safety at Bay Shore High School

ScholarChip, a GG4L Safer Schools Initiative EdTech partner, helps create a safe, secure school environment in an efficient and cost-effective way; it’s an automated, easily implemented solution.

Clayton Moore is the Security Surveillance Technician at Bay Shore High School in Long Island. He’s in charge of maintaining their security systems, technology, cameras, and ID card management for the 2,000 students in attendance.

“I’m the Key Master,” Moore joked. “No one can get past me!” In spite of his quip, Moore takes student safety very seriously and has been working with ScholarChip since 2008.

Tapping into Security

“All of our students hold a smart ID card badge from ScholarChip. They tap in at one of five kiosks at our school entrances, and because it’s an electronic process, I can tell who is in the building in real time, which is vital information from a security standpoint,” said Moore. Moore added, “We use the kiosks at the cafeteria entrances too, so only kids who belong there, for that period, can get in.”

Bay Shore uses stand-alone kiosks for building attendance so they can be moved and used for other things, too. Kids can tap in with their ScholarChip smart ID cards at events that take place after school like a sporting event, dance, concert, or any other school-sponsored program. These cards strengthening accountability, safety and control, and provide event administrators real-time attendee counts.

ScholarChip’s smart ID cards carry a chip that is encoded with a unique ID number assigned to one individual. It is the back-end computer that maintains detailed information on the student to whom the ID is issued, so administering the program is simple and straightforward, and cards can be activated and deactivated on demand.

“The ScholarChip system is very good,” added Moore. “It gives us a lot of control over knowing where students are, when they come in, and when they leave. That’s important in today’s school climate.”

Locking It Down

In the old days, schools used to practice fire drills. Now they practice lock-down drills, too. And sometimes it isn’t a drill. “We’ve had a few lock-downs where things happened in our community, close to the school. Recently the Suffolk County Police Department had a wanted suspect about a mile away from us, which triggered a lock down. Thankfully, nothing came of it, but we knew who was in school that day, and who wasn’t.

An accurate attendance report is available on a tablet or computer that shows which students used their card to get into the building, which can help first responders react fast.

Expanding the System

Bay Shore High School recently implemented ScholarChip’s SALA (Student Ad-hoc Location App) in the library. With SALA, students tap their ID cards outside of the classrooms in locations like the nurse’s or a guidance counselor’s on­ce. Moore said, “Previously, we built a program that the librarian used to register kids into the room. It wasn’t as good as SALA. Now you can view a photo, match it to the student, see who belongs there, and you know that’s where they’re supposed to be.”

Staying Safe

In this day and age, schools are faced with the threat of active shooters, drug dealers lurking on the grounds, sex o‑enders trolling events, and parental abductors waiting for an opportunity to strike. Real threats are reported all the time. But dedicated security professionals like Clayton Moore are on the job, using advanced tools like ScholarChip, to make sure that his students are safe, every day.