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News

November 26, 2018
District 207 Earns National Recognition for Innovation

Maine Township High School District 207 was one of 25 school districts in the U.S. to be honored as one of the “Most Innovative School Districts” for its unique approaches to expand and support teacher learning and student success both during and after high school.

The award was provided by AASA (The School Superintendents Association) and the Successful Practices Network (SPN). A newly released case study provides in-depth insights into District 207’s innovation in attracting and maintaining high quality educators, creating a unique in the country personalized coaching program for teachers, fostering teacher innovation and risk taking, and personalized learning for students. It is available at http://www.aasa.org/content.aspx?id=42866.

“We are incredibly proud of everyone in our organization for all of the efforts that have taken place over many years to evolve our practice to better serve students in a way that is uniquely innovative and a hallmark of this incredible public school district,” says Superintendent Dr. Ken Wallace. “Without our incredible students, staff, parents, communities, board and school leaders, this recognition simply wouldn’t be possible. It truly takes an entire organization and community focused on serving students better every year to provide the conditions for the types of improvements and innovations we’ve made to be possible. We are honored and humbled by this distinction.”

The case study details several hallmarks of the innovative educational experiences for students at Maine East, Maine South and Maine West high schools, including:

  • The district’s classes of 2018 were likely the first high school graduates in the country whose teachers for all four years each had instructional coaching and a personalized coaching plan for the sole purpose of improving learning conditions for students.
  • In addition to providing students opportunities to understand and use career skills, the college/career advisement program has a bigger picture objective: to create the conditions needed such that every student can smartly choose a career that pertains to their passions, is realistically achievable and is in high demand.
  • District 207 attracts hungry, high-achieving educators who know growth has no limit. They retain that passion through a range of cutting-edge learning opportunities; agency over what, how, and when they learn; and several ways to share their expertise and lead colleagues in their own learning.
  • As Google’s first K-12 district partner, Google partnered with District 207 to move the system from a poor technology program to one that has been on the forefront of 1:1 cloud computing nationally.

In 2017, AASA and SPN joined forces to search nationwide for the districts challenging the status quo to find groundbreaking and original ways to meet students’ changing and complex needs. The goal is to celebrate bold innovators in education and report their experiences in case studies to benefit of all educators. The case studies are posted on the AASA website at http://www.aasa.org/content.aspx?id=42866.

In the fall of 2017, AASA, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and the Successful Practices Network (SPN) conducted a national study of innovative practices in K-12 systems. The study identified and highlighted many ways in which public schools and districts are putting students first with unique approaches that expand and support student learning and achievement. From that study, just 25 national Innovative Best Practice schools/districts were selected for a more in-depth study of how innovative approaches have impacted student learning.

This project was born partially out of the yearly PDK International and Gallup survey results about key priorities and challenges in public education. One of the key underlying messages in both polls released focused on the need to scale up efforts to showcase and promote the outstanding work being done in public school districts.

“We wish to congratulate the school districts across the country that are being honored,” AASA wrote in a statement. “The announcement comes following a yearlong study conducted by our partners to identify and highlight innovative practices in our schools. Based upon their ongoing work throughout the country, both AASA and SPN nominated schools and/or districts to be studied. In addition, each state affiliate of AASA was invited to nominate two innovative best practices (one school, one district) that have demonstrated rapid improvement in student learning and preparedness through innovative organizational and instructional practices.”