In the Ulster, Sullivan, and Orange (U/S/O) Region, the innovation in our Catholic schools this year prompted the start of new virtual meetings to foster professional development for our teachers, while also integrating enhanced instructional methods in the classroom.
For instance, teachers at St. Joseph and Kingston Catholic in Ulster County organized professional development meetings to devise strategies for improving their blended learning programs. This virtual collaboration exposed teachers to a variety of instructional best practices that, given year-end test scores as their metrics, have achieved demonstrable success in their schools. Teachers appreciated the avoidance of the time-consuming travel and logistics that on-site meetings require, and have truly embraced the remote video conferencing that their new virtual faculty meetings now provide.
These virtual conferences have even been successful for students, who are also taking advantage of this innovative collaboration. At least once per quarter, 8th grade students participated in a video conferencing whereby students responded to questions from teachers while engaging in a cross-school dialogue with their peers. Considering the roving suburban landscapes that define many areas in the U/S/O region, these virtual video conferences have permitted inter-school dialogue for students and teachers without having to even leave the classroom.
Investment in classroom technology integration was also evident in other areas of the region this year. At St. Stephen-St. Edward in Warwick, the school implemented a broader integration of technology in instruction, including Google Classroom, Eureka Math and Aleks adaptive questioning software. In grades 6-8, there is now a 1:1 student to electronic device ratio that has enabled students to customize their learning.
Without question, such innovation this past year influenced an increased percentage of students meeting or exceeding ELA proficiency standards in grades 3-8. It should be noted that our Catholic school students continue to outperform their public school peers in the region. By continuing to embrace classroom technology integration and novel innovations like Virtual Meetings to connect our school communities, we are confident that the U/S/O region will have even greater successes to report in the coming year.