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.  

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.

CrisisGo Improves School Safety at Goreville Every Day

CrisisGo enahnces safety Goreville High School

Goreville Community Unit School District (CUSD) previously experienced safety-related communication issues because they did not have a discreet and efficient way to simultaneously communicate with their staff during an emergency. The school district is also located in a rural area, which made them susceptible to a communication overload if an emergency occurred and the 911 system got tied up. With numerous technology solutions in the market to help school safety initiatives, Goreville CUSD was interested in a platform for improving their communication capabilities, increasing the speed of their safety communication and response times, and sharing critical information with local law enforcement. The district became primarily interested in CrisisGo as a way to provide secure and reliable safety communication that could grant all staff members access to safety communication that would not go down in an emergency due to an influx of calls.

Goreville CUSD not only found value in utilizing CrisisGo to improve communication during an emergency and make their staff more prepared for emergencies, the district also found that CrisisGo helped strengthen their daily safety communication. Goreville Community Unit School District Superintendent Dr. Steve Webb stated, “CrisisGo is not just about communication in an event, it’s a communication tool that can help you every single day.”

Webb said that he enjoys the ability to use CrisisGo to turn the smartboards in their classrooms into a big panic button for the teachers. He noted that if an event occurs, the teachers are most likely to be by their smartboard. According to Webb, CrisisGo has not only impacted their daily safety communication, it has also helped improve the safety culture of their school.

“There’s been a great improvement on staff members joining in the culture and talking about better ways to utilize CrisisGo,” Stated Webb. He added, “You know you’ve changed the culture whenever you have teachers talking about it in the teacher’s lounge and bringing you suggestions because of their conversations. It’s not a top-down school safety mechanism, and CrisisGo goes a long way with that because it allows us to test it and it allows them to respond back to it with things they are seeing and any issues.”

Webb also said that CrisisGo has helped them share information with local law enforcement to provide better situational awareness. He stated, “This year we started sharing the perpetrator location so those responding will know exactly where to go. That was a key event because we found some holes in that process that we were able to close by using CrisisGo and having responding Sheriffs know where to attack.”

According to Dr. Webb, the district has been using CrisisGo for safety drills to practice their safety protocols and help staff become more familiar using their safety platform for the best possible emergency preparation. He concluded, “We are always looking for a zero response time, and whenever you have immediate notification where it can go out to so many people at once while you’re mobile, that’s a tremendous asset to have in an event.”

Lightspeed Systems Sponsors Groundbreaking Research Into School Safety

The leading edtech company partners with Global Grid for Learning and McREL International, sponsoring research into school safety solutions and providing software grants to participating schools.

AUSTIN, TX. — Today, Lightspeed Systems made another critical step toward school safety by announcing its sponsorship of the Safer Schools in America Impact Grant Program, an initiative jointly operated by Global Grid for Learning and the Tier 1 educational research institute McREL International. Through the program, eligible schools will receive $25 million of grants in education technology products and services — from Lightspeed Systems and other corporate sponsors — for the purpose of protecting students against school violence and self-harm.

As a provider of K-12 filtering, mobile device management and monitoring solutions for 20 years, Lightspeed Systems has helped tens of thousands of school customers intervene to prevent student harm, saving countless lives. By participating in Safer Schools in America, Lightspeed will not only grant essential software solutions to participating schools — creating a safer, more easily managed learning experience for students — the company will also contribute meaningfully to research supporting school safety.

Safer Schools in America will study the impact of sponsor products and services across 500 American schools in 250 school districts over the next three years. The results of this groundbreaking national research study will be published quarterly, starting in spring 2019.

“Lightspeed Systems is a major player in edtech with more than 28,000 school customers and a key partner in our expanding ecosystem; we are very pleased to count them as a sponsor of Safer Schools in America and hope that their commitment paves the way for other corporate sponsors,” said GG4L Founder and CEO Robert Iskander.

“We are proud to be a sponsor of this strategic initiative toward the improved safety of our schools and the lives of children,” said Lightspeed Systems President & CEO Brian Thomas. “By teaming up with GG4L and other corporations, we can help even more schools and save even more lives.”

To learn more about Lightspeed Systems, visit https://www.lightspeedsystems.com. To learn more about GG4L’s Safer Schools in America Impact Grant, visit https://gg4l.com/initiatives/safer-schools.

About Lightspeed Systems

Lightspeed Systems partners with schools to make learning safe, mobile and easily managed. Partnered with 6,500 districts in the United States and more than 28,000 schools around the world, Lightspeed Systems offers integrated solutions for smarter K-12 school networks: Relay, Relay Classroom, Mobile Manager, and Web Filter. To learn more, visit http://www.lightspeedsystems.com.

About Global Grid for Learning (GG4L)

Embracing the belief that a nation’s education system directly impacts its future, GG4L is building innovative public and private partnerships mindfully structured to harness the power of data to solve big school challenges such as school safety, literacy, college and career readiness. With privacy and security top of mind, GG4L’s 3-way partnership, among schools, industry and philanthropy, actively champions continuous cycles of improvement informed by data. By facilitating affordable access to proven solutions and efficacy data, GG4L fuels rapid innovation in education. As a membership-based Public Benefit Corporation, GG4L is committed to voluntarily meeting higher standards of corporate purpose, accountability and transparency. To learn more, visit http://www.GG4L.com.

About McREL International

McREL International is a nonprofit research and development organization that since 1966 has turned knowledge about what works in education into practical, effective guidance and training for teachers and education leaders across the U.S. and around the world. Using a collaborative approach and research-based insights, McREL provides schools, districts, and other education organizations with high-quality research and evaluation, professional development and coaching, strategic planning, and assistance with improvement and innovation projects.  To learn more, visit http://www.mcrel.org.