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Fisher v. United States

United States District Court, D. Arizona

August 5, 2019

Roy and Josie Fisher, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
United States of America, Plaintiff-Intervenor,
v.
Anita Lohr, et al., Defendants, and Sidney L. Sutton, et al., Defendants-Intervenors, Maria Mendoza, et al., Plaintiffs, United States of America, Plaintiff-Intervenor,
v.
Tucson Unified School District No. One, et al., Defendants.

          SPECIAL MASTER'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION RELATING TO TRAINING FOR THE USE OF EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY

          WILLIS D. HAWLEY, SPECIAL MASTER JUDGE

         Introduction

         On May 22, the District filed, at direction of the Court, a supplemental notice and report of compliance for the professional learning plan for enhancing the ability of teachers and administrators to use technology to facilitate student learning (ECF 2220). In this filing, the District requested that it be awarded unitary status with respect to Section 1X, B of the USP. On June 5, 2019, the Mendoza plaintiffs filed an objection to the provisions of the District's notice and report of compliance (ECF 2228).

         The District's May 22 filing is a substantial improvement of its original proposals on how it would address the elements of the completion plan for training in the use of technology. But there is work to do before the Court awards partial unitary status for this aspect of the USP. The Mendoza plaintiffs objected that the District has not adequately addressed the following issues that were dealt with by the Special Master in his March 27, R&R on this topic:

1. An evaluation of the efficacy of teacher technology liaisons (TTL)[1].
2. The need to enhance the ability of professional staff to use technology to facilitate effective instruction.
3. The training of school administrators.

         The Mendoza plaintiffs also object to the absence of information about the supervision and professional development of the TTL.

         The Special Master believes that it is not necessary for the Court to direct the District to specify how TTL are supervised in the absence of evidence that there is a problem in this regard. The USP specifies that the Superintendent is responsible for how the staff is organized. Specification by the Court would limit the flexibility of the Superintendent's authority to organize the work of the District.

         Recommendations Evaluation.

         It seems likely that the District did not propose an evaluation system because the approach suggested by the Special Master was complicated and would delay the support provided to teachers in what would've been control schools. However, the District proposes to collect a significant amount of information about services provided in each school by the TTL as well as how the teachers in each school use technology in instruction. This will allow the District to conduct a “natural experiment” using data it proposes to collect for administrative purposes. The Court should require the District to provide the outlines of an evaluation of TTL and indicate that this process will be to appropriate professional development, when necessary.

         A greater focus on instruction.

         In its initial proposals for courses available for teachers, there were few courses and that would help teachers use technology to enhance instruction. The most recent filing addresses this shortcoming but in most cases the courses involved are not subject specific. Teachers will find that the general information about using technology without specification of subject matter will place demands on them that many teachers will not effectively pursue. The Court should require, using the concept of “content pedagogy, ” the provision of courses about how to use technology in the subject matter that particular teachers teach (such as American government or biology, etc.).[2]

         Administrator ...


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