White House recognizes Miami-Dade schools for innovation

Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho outside the White House on Tuesday.
Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho outside the White House on Tuesday.

The Miami-Dade school district was recognized at the White House on Tuesday as one of 30 school districts leading the nation in innovation and personalized learning.

Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho outlined the district’s iPrep Academy and iPrep Math, two educational programs centered around personalized learning through technology, at a roundtable discussion. He also discussed the district’s successes implementing technology in the classroom using interactive boards, digital devices and apps.

The invitation-only meeting included representatives from the U.S. Department of Education and the White House Domestic Policy Council, along with other district superintendents. Carvalho was the only district leader from Florida.

In addition to sharing best practices, school leaders discussed pitfalls and challenges in personalized learning, Carvalho said. In Miami-Dade, one major challenge has been a lack of access to technology at home for low-income students.

“There are digital deserts in our community,” Carvalho said.

In recent years, Miami-Dade has installed over 11,000 interactive boards and distributed 140,000 digital devices in classrooms in addition to setting up 30,000 WiFi access points on school campuses. Some of the technology has been funded by a federal grant through the Department of Education’s Race to the Top program and by a county bond for school improvement.

Overall, Carvalho said Miami-Dade’s technological transformation has been “fairly smooth” considering the size of the district, which is home to over 350,000 students. He said the district has tried to create personalized learning programs driven by subject material, like math or language arts, rather than devices.

The White House meeting, which came one week after the presidential elections, also touched on the uncertainties surrounding president-elect Donald Trump’s vision for public education. “There are a lot of questions in the air regarding the direction the new administration will take,” Carvalho said.