Skip to main content

Grossmont Union High School District's Story

Banner Image of Grossmont High School

Grossmont Union High School District (El Cajon, California)

Image of the Grossmont Union High School District Building
  • 1:1 district 
  • serves over 17,000 secondary students 
  • 18 site 
  • over 30 languages spoken 
  • large refugee community
  • 12% of students have Individual Education Plans 
  • 68% of students identified with potential barriers to learning 
  • awarded California’s Gold Ribbon Award, designated as California Distinguished Schools.

Throughout the CITES framework development process, Grossmont consistently looked forward to the district's future as a leader in inclusive technology and continually created opportunities for procurement, training, and building infrastructure, centered around the current and anticipated needs of students, educators, and families. This included a “technology roadmap,” with detailed short- and long-term goals, benchmarks, timelines, district self-assessments, and progress and performance reviews.

Planning for Procurement

The three primary departments that took leadership roles in the CITES process were Assistive Technology (AT), Information Technology (IT), and Special Education. The CITES leadership team at Grossmont consisted of various district leaders, including:

  • Director of instructional technology
  • Assistive technology program specialist
  • General education teacher
  • Special education specialist
  • English language learning specialist
  • Parent
  • Superintendent
  • Director of learning and innovation
  • Director of special education.

Identifying District Needs and Identifying Steps Moving Forward

Early in the CITES leadership implementation process, in connection to the development of infrastructure and procurement practices, Grossmont identified that some of the first steps in getting started with infrastructure must include:

  1. identifying current infrastructure and technologies available and frequently accessed
  2. completing a multi-department (e.g., Edtech, IT, AT) technology needs assessment
  3. listening to and collecting data from various internal and external partners and stakeholders
  4. looking at procurement requirements and district guidelines for accessibility standards
  5. identifying current procurement methods and availability of financial options for accessible and assistive technology for students with disabilities through multiple means (e.g.., district funds, grants, insurance, Medicaid)
  6. developing short- and long-term planning goals to extend inclusive technology development after completion of the CITES process

In one of the district self-assessments, the leadership team recognized that “a lot of data and resources we currently have access to have not been leveraged yet.” This information was then used as a starting point to drive the CITES leadership team to identify gaps or areas of need for data and technology. Through a comprehensive needs assessment and data collection process across the district, Grossmont identified critical areas of initial improvement or expansion at the district, school, and classroom levels that impacted educators, families, and students. After analysis of the data, some of the areas that the Grossmont leadership team determined would be beneficial to look deeper at included:

  1. reviewing current partnerships and contracts in place with technology applications (e.g., software, apps, and digital curriculum),
  2. identifying roles, responsibilities, and range of personnel specific to technology use,
  3. determining equity and accessibility of various communication outlets (e.g., digital newsletters, email messages, and social media),
  4. expanding Chromebook access and accessibility for students with disabilities,
  5. assessing levels of educator technology competencies across the district,
  6. training general and special education teachers on making their materials accessible for students with disabilities,
  7. evaluating special education and general education collaboration and relational dynamics at the school and classroom level,
  8. finding opportunities to connect with educators in the classroom,
  9. building capacity specific to individualized student learning, and
  10. including student and family voices in the procurement of technology.

Grossmont is a district that supports assistive and accessible technology integration to support all students with and without disabilities, including those with high-incidence or mild to moderate disabilities and those with more extensive support needs. After delving deeper into the district’s technology departments, supports, and systems, the CITES leadership team at Grossmont found that the district was exemplary in “prioritizing tools and devices to support students with disabilities and varied learners; however, we need to make sure that we connect this prioritization to a written commitment or philosophy that drives future decisions.”

In the upcoming sections, Bijul, the assistive technology teacher, provides more detail and discusses various action items Grossmont took throughout the CITES framework development process to support the future of technology competencies and inclusive practices.

Moving Towards Technology Competencies

One of the strengths of Grossmont is how the team strategically examines current technology practices for educators, students, and families, including how they were used in the past, to determine steps moving forward. After collecting data and working with educators firsthand, Grossmont recognized that moving past the awareness and expectation phase and into implementation and accountability was vital to long-term technology sustainability in the classroom. Bijul stated,

“The vision for the future is to have students who graduate with diplomas who are ready to be living independently with compassion and empathy. We want them to pursue their own dreams, which includes work [post-secondary employment], and we want them to be financially independent, and be able to study further or accomplish anything they want to do by using the tools that they have learned in high school, which includes technology tools.”

Training Educators

Grossmont's motivation to participate as a CITES framework district was based on the foundation of the district's experiences of moving toward a comprehensive professional development and professional learning system focused on developing technology competencies for educators and students. This included developing technology competencies, providing opportunities to work toward those competencies, and training on accessible educational materials and assistive technology.

Grossmont used CAST’s Universal Design for Learning (UDL) guidelines and UDL Educator Credentials as a foundation to develop technology competencies at the classroom level. These guidelines were infused into professional development and professional learning opportunities. One of the most innovative professional learning practices that Grossmont integrated to support technology competency development is a “roadshow” across the district. A “roadshow” professional learning session, according to Bijul, is described as:

“Instead of the teachers coming to us to learn about professional development and assistive technology, we meet with teachers on their site during their prep periods. So essentially, we go to a school site, and have teachers sign up on their prep period, and teach them either what we think they need to know or what they would like to know to support students in their classroom.”

In addition to the “roadshow” professional learning opportunities, Grossmont provides in-person, virtual, and hybrid professional development and professional learning opportunities depending on the time, content, or audience. They also integrate flexible opportunities at different times throughout the day to accommodate teachers’ schedules. New teacher induction workshops (e.g., for special education teachers, general education teachers, and related service providers) were also provided for those in their first or second year of teaching or employment with the district. This included using various low-tech to high-tech features and UDL practices through technology to provide multiple means of engagement, representation, action, and expression. Educators were encouraged to receive training on UDL guidelines or inclusive practices that support learning variances.

Technology Supports for Student Success

During the CITES process, the three primary departments – AT, IT, and special education – regularly collaborated and shared ideas on what factors directly or indirectly impacted student success. For example, Grossmont found that some students, with and without disabilities, were individually using tools in classrooms, such as voice typing and text-to-speech, and recognized that many of these tools could universally support multiple students in the classroom, including those who are English language learners (ELL). They also found that many students could teach other students how to use technology to maximize and support learning in the classroom.

While working with educators and students in the classroom, Grossmont also recognized a need for additional support for some students to be trained in technology adopted by the district, in the classroom, or through AT assessments. Bijul said, “Our Assistive Technology Department started to meet directly with students, and we began to push into classes. We really have a sort of boots-on-the-ground perspective.”

At Grossmont, the team also noted that “if a student has a disability, the student is trained directly in a 1-1 setting, in a small group, or, depending on the device or need, in a study skills class or whole class setting where multiple students can benefit from the device.”In addition to directly training educators on student implementation and support in the classroom, there are direct learning coaches, direct access to the AT, IT, and EdTech teams for support, educator appointment options to support individual students, and universal tutoring through personalized tutoring platform purchased by the district.

According to Bijul, in collaboration with the leaders within the departments and modeling the use of inclusive technologies,

“Leveraging tools is more palatable for students when they see their peers using them. So, it's just a way to sort of level up education and productivity of work for all students.”

Top of Page