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Special Needs School Uses Technology to Prepare Students for the Future

January 28, 2014
at 7:50 am PST

Berkshire Union Free School District (UFSD) isn’t your typical educational facility. It is located in Canaan, NY where poverty rates are over 90% and 85% of its students have special needs. Berkshire USFD provides an education to young men, ages 12-18, who have been classified as emotionally or learning disabled and have been unsuccessful at their local district due to poverty or a failed educational experience.

Although Berkshire UFSD is a specialized school, it is held to the same retention and graduation standards as other public schools. They realized that, in order to create an impactful program, they were going to need some assistance.

The Challenge

  • Offer education alternatives for at-risk students
  • Train special education students with technology
  • Improve graduation rates
  • Increase entry-level job acceptance for special education students

With these challenges in mind paired with about a year of research, Berkshire UFSD invested in the Cisco® Networking Academy. The Network Academy is Cisco’s largest corporate social responsibility (CSR) program. It, partnered with organizations to provide a digital learning environment for students.

The Solution

  • Prepare teacher with training to introduce new IT courses
  • Certify students with IT training programs
  • Implement job training rather than simple traditional education

Following the installation of Networking Academy, 100% of Berkshire UFSD’s students participating in the program passed the IT Essentials course, and had an 85% pass rate for online exams.

With support from the student’s families and the community, the school plans to expand the program to give additional students the opportunity to become college or career-ready in the field of technology.

“We learn every day from our challenges and our successes. The Cisco Networking Academy has given us one more tool to assist our students in becoming contributing members of society.” --  Bruce Potter, Berkshire UFSD superintendent

Read the entire case study on Berkshire UFSD, and let us know how your school is using technology to meet student needs.

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