Established on June 6, 1866, Santa Barbara's educational tradition is one of the oldest in the state of California. The mission of the Santa Barbara Unified School District is to ensure the educational success of all students through high expectations and a commitment to excellence and to empower them to reach their full potential as responsible, ethical, and productive citizens in a diverse and changing world.
What were the challenges before CYPHER?
Part of our district strategic plan was to implement an LMS and we were looking for an LMS that the teachers and students would enjoy using, that was user friendly, and that was reasonably priced.
How did you find a solution?
We came across CYPHER Learning® a few years ago and one of the exciting things about it was the company's CEO Graham Glass and the fact that he was very open to the ideas of our teachers and to try to make CYPHER a great fit for us. And that is what it has become.
The way we implemented CYPHER is also very important, we never forced teachers to use it, the implementation was strictly voluntary because we found that any time we force teachers to do or use something they found little value in it, but if they come naturally to it, then it's more valuable to them. Teachers didn't have to use CYPHER, they chose to.
What improvements have you noticed since using CYPHER?
One of the things that is most valuable to us is that we started using CYPHER as one of our intervention strategy with students, so if there is a student in a class who is struggling, we have the ability to go in and see how the student is doing in all of his/hers classes, see the lessons and where they're falling down, then connect with the teachers of those classes. CYPHER has allowed us to create an environment where students are less anonymous and it allowed our counselors to quickly get in and see the issues.
The rubrics are a game changer feature for us, because so often when school districts don't use rubrics, grading is left to the teacher's own discretion and sometimes an A is not an A, because one teacher may have different requirements in his/her class than the teacher who's teaching right next door.
We were the first school in our district to implement CYPHER at the time and it wasn't very easy because teachers are creatures of habit and when they use something that works for them they don't understand why there's a need for change. Now our culture has completely changed, we have called out CYPHER as our LMS and if we tried to take it away from teachers they would be enraged.
CYPHER has become our digital hub for everything we do, all our learning and teaching activities and resources are housed in CYPHER and teachers are using it to collaborate with each other across the district.