Principals want to chart school expenditures? There’s a Google App for that. Teachers want to collaborate on curriculum? Students want to vote on the colors of their cap and gown? There are Google Apps for that, too.
ACTVF juniors shooting their own Alfred Hitchcock films after school on Tuesday
The Academy for Careers in Television and Film is making use of all of them. Founding principal Mark Dunetz has Google-fied the school, using Google Apps for Education to create shared, streamlined systems that aggregate information and smooth operations.
When Dunetz started ACTVF in 2008, he said he faced a challenge shared by most non-selective high schools: “You accept in a range of students based on their interest in the program, who might or might not have had success in school.”
His solution to guarantee their success was to implement a slew of organizational systems to make the school “responsive and efficient" to students' needs. The first class of students will graduate this year, and Dunetz projects a graduation rate over 90 percent – a rarity for a non-selective school.
“It would be inconceivable to do the work we're doing, as successfully as we’re doing it, without the systems that we have in place,” he said when I visited the school last week.
The starting point for ACTVF was the free suite of Google Apps for Education, which includes Google Mail, Google Docs, Google Calendar, and Google Sites. Dunetz leaned on the toolkit to create a shared document for staff to track parent outreach. But then the possibilities exploded.
“Once you get into it, you know what’s possible," Dunetz said. "You start to really see everywhere the ways you’re wasting time doing things in an inefficient matter."
Since August, the Department of Education has been quietly swapping data about its graduates with the City University of New York, under an information-sharing agreement that Mayor Bloomberg boasted today is the first of its kind.
Under the terms of the agreement, the mayor explained at a press conference this morning, CUNY sends performance data to high schools about their graduates enrolled in city colleges. In exchange, the DOE shares the students' high school records with CUNY. The purpose of the swap is to gather new information about what it takes to prepare high schoolers for success in college, a looming question in a city where a growing number of public school graduates enrolling in CUNY's two-year schools need remedial instruction.
"I don't think anybody before has even thought about crossing that barrier," Bloomberg said, referring to the separation between public schools and college and universities.
Bloomberg's remarks came at a press conference about the growing number of public school students who are enrolling at CUNY colleges. At the event, which took a dramatic turn when a Lehman College student who was standing beside the mayor fainted, Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein said the CUNY enrollment surge is evidence that the city's public schools are improving, particularly for minority students.