Rush-Henrietta Central School District, Henrietta, New York

Using Capstone Projects to Meet ISTE Standards
By: | January 6, 2019
District Name: Rush-Henrietta Central School District
District State: New York
District Website: rhnet.org

When the Henrietta Board of Education approved a 1-to-1 initiative, the Rush-Henrietta Central School District got working to ensure that the additional funding would not go to waste and every student would gain technological skills.

To meet expectations, the district adopted the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) standards and launched capstone projects as a way to measure student learning and their ability to use digital tools, says Brad Malone, director of information and communication technology.

Capstone projects were established for third, sixth and ninth grades. Full implementation for all grades will be this school year.

Each student selects a topic of interest and over the course of several weeks completes a series of tasks related to it, such as conducting research using online and print sources, and devising solutions to local problems. The project culminates with a presentation using a range of digital tools.

Implementation began in 2017 with third graders. During the primary capstone, 79 percent of students rated proficient on ISTE standards such as citing sources, communicating clearly and concisely, providing details about the main idea of a text, organizing information, evaluating sources, and leveraging digital tools. With this data, library specialists and technology coaches taught teachers how to reinforce and improve student skills.

“The capstones are designed to be rigorous assessments of information and technology skills that cannot be taught and mastered in one year,” Malone says. “These are often new skills for teachers, so our library media specialists and technology coaches have had to spend considerable time training teachers.”

The effort has paid off, Malone says.

Teachers found that students exceeded the district’s initial goals for meeting ISTE standards and were also more engaged throughout the capstone projects, which can take up to seven weeks to complete for third grade and up to 12 weeks for middle school and high school students.