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7. Gap Analysis

a. Gap Analysis

Guidelines / Requirements for compliance in this section (from the Peer-Response Rubric):


Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS) supports the investment in technology as a key component for providing world-class schools. Similar to large organizations, standardization is a key component to the support of the enterprise technology deployed throughout the schools and central offices. However, ensuring standard purchases of hardware and software is a difficult challenge, and GCPS uses a number of computer-management applications to support software distribution, standardization of computer images, and computer virus- and firewall-related support.

GCPS is also in the middle of a major renovation of technical infrastructure and computer technology. Our previous response to the technology access gap was the implementation of networked computers in every GCPS classroom, laptop rollouts, broadband connections to every school, and switched-to-desktop classroom connections. Today, our focus is on expanding teacher and student access through the retrofitting the technology of all high schools and improving computer lab technology throughout the district. This strategy hinges on the implementation of a robust and well managed network infrastructure.  Such an implementation will provide the bandwidth to successfully utilize network intensive resources already available to students, teachers, and staff throughout GCPS without impairing network performance.

The rollout strategy that GCPS has used in the past has been to upgrade entire schools at a time, instead of focusing on a single program. While some initiatives do support specific programs, GCPS studies have found more effective classroom technology use when the entire school is upgraded, not just an isolated classroom or program. The culture of a school changes when new technology is implemented, and teachers are more willing to use new technology in more innovative ways, taking advantage of multimedia resources that were previously out of range of prior technology load capacity.

Previous gap analyses led to the implementation of an upgraded technology model, including increased internet speed and capacity and internal network, switched-to-desktop infrastructure, and laptops for all elementary and Special Education teachers. This has significantly increased student access to modern computers in the classroom and has incidentally placed an ever increasing strain on the current network infrastructure. Teachers are continually trained on the use of technology as it is deployed by local school staff members whose sole function is to integrate technology into the classroom which includes training in the use of web-based video, audio files, and online applications.

Tier 1

Access capabilities: Tier 1 provides baseline access to Email, Internet, SIS, StART from school over a shared environment.

Technology: Novell network operating systems with a hub (shared) infrastructure

Tier 2

Access capabilities: Tier 2 leverages the district’s broadband network to the school and increases speed to the classroom by providing a dedicated pipe to each classroom.

Technology: Move from hub (shared) to switched infrastructure

Tier 3

Access capabilities: Tier 3 provides significantly improved throughput to each student computer in the school and provides the network infrastructure to allow access to instructional applications over the network.

Technology: Increase network bandwidth to the school to a minimum of 1 Gb/s by moving to a fiber optic based network in a dedicated physical link.

Tier 4

Access capabilities: Tier 4 provides more extensive capabilities for centralized management and for the overall security of the network.

Technology: Move from Novell to Active Directory

Tier 5

Access capabilities: Tier 5 upgrades the end user technology to the current standards and leverages the Tier III architecture, which provides the capability of accessing the latest, most effective instructional applications such as River Deep, NCS Learn, and Read 180 as well as providing centralized media distribution, video conferencing and digital high definition broadcasts.

Technology: Provide computers that are configured to utilize the increased network capacity and services as provided by the GCPS WAN and Internet technologies.
Tier 7 Access capabilities: In Tier 7, a portal offers a secure single point of access for teachers to remotely access from home a limited set of key applications and email.

Gap analyses have identified the schools that are not yet at Tier 5 access. At the date of this report, only 34.3% of GCPS schools are connected at the Tier 5 access level.

Further analysis of school access tiers identifies the schools where access can be improved. The following charts illustrate the different school levels (Elementary, Middle, and High) and access for each level:

Prioritization is given to "Targeted Assistance” schools, which are those schools currently qualifying for Title I. Currently there are only 34 schools with Tier 5 access, i.e. 34.3% of the schools in the district are at Tier 5. While the overall district percentage of Tier 5 Access schools is 34.3%, 3 out of the 4 Targeted Assistance Schools are currently at Tier 5.

NOTE: A Title 1 school is identified by the percentage of students in free/reduced lunches. Title 1 students are identified by their educational needs. There are two types of Title 1 programs. Targeted assistance programs enable eligible students to receive assistance in reading and/or math to meet the performance standards that have been set by the county and state. Schoolwide programs serve all students in a school. They may be implemented in schools in which half the student population meets economic guidelines.

The priorities for determining which schools will be moved to Tier 5 access include mitigating risk to the network infrastructure, age of the technology in the schools, and special instructional priorities such as a focus on Targeted Assistance Schools.

Copyright 2006 Gwinnett County Public Schools. All Rights Reserved.
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