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Federal money brings new technology to schools

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Race to the Top funds implement database for local teachers

By Kelly Cantrall

School districts in the county are using federal money to implement a new program that provides resources and support to teachers in regards to classroom instruction.

Local districts are receiving federal Race to the Top money in the upcoming months and are using it to implement Continuous Instructional Improvement Technology System, which is a database teachers can use to look up curriculum standards, plan lessons and create assessments.

Elizabethtown Independent Schools tentatively is receiving $20,849, and Hardin County Schools is set to receive $125,516.

Kentucky as a state will receive $17 million in federal money as part of a grant application process that focused on states working to improve education systems.

With this portion of the money, school districts are bringing CIITS to their districts, and will begin a gradual roll-out of the system throughout their districts beginning this summer.

CIITS connects to the districts’ Infinite Campus system, which keeps student information. Along with that, the program has an instructional component, too, said Karen Branham, assistant superintendent for instruction at Elizabethtown Independent Schools. Teachers can find all of the standards for which they must go by when planning lessons.

“Everything you can think of,” Branham said.

After choosing a standard, teachers can use the program to plan a lesson around it using resources the database provides, she said. It also contains an assessment item bank, which teachers can use to create their own quizzes and tests with questions supplied by the bank. Once the assessment is completed by students, results can be automatically analyzed to determine student performance.

“I just think it’s going to be phenomenal,” she said.

It will take training for teachers to learn how to use all of its functions, which is important to any new program implementation, said Mark Kopp, associate superintendent for curriculum and instruction at Hardin County Schools.

“I would like to see this program assist teachers instructionally,” Kopp said.

The program also allows teachers to see lesson plans designed by other teachers, which they can use to gather ideas for their own classrooms.

“That can only benefit our kids,” he said.

Kelly Cantrall can be reached at (270) 505-1747.