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High School Transition App

Cuyahoga County Public Library

Innovation Summary

Cuyahoga County Public Library has created the free High School Transition App to help eighth and ninth graders succeed academically, emotionally and socially. The downloadable app connects teens to educational, organizational and personal tools customized to the new experiences, classrooms and learning environments that students will encounter in high school.

Innovation Leader: Celia Huffman, Youth Services Manager, chuffman@cuyahogalibrary.org

Problem Statement

Cuyahoga County Public Library creates and supplies a Kindergarten Kit as a gift to all Cuyahoga County children entering kindergarten in the fall. Each kit includes reading and listening materials, craft supplies and activities. The Library’s primary goal is to provide children with a fun and free supplement to their learning at school and home. The success of the Kindergarten Kit led the Library to develop a tool for students in another important transition period – the transition to high school. Success or failure in the first year of high school can set the tone for students’ entire high school careers. A successful transition to high school is just one factor that influences graduation rates. The Library sought to enhance the academic, emotional and social experiences of teens entering high school, particularly those students in the two largest cities in the county, Cleveland and Parma. The Library chose to create an app for this initiative because mobile communications are increasingly relevant to this age demographic.

Innovation

Cuyahoga County Public Library created the High School Transition App, a downloadable smart phone application, in partnership with Cleveland Municipal Schools, Parma City Schools, Starting Point, Youth Opportunities Unlimited, the MyCom (My Commitment. My Community) youth development initiative and the Family & Children First Council of Cuyahoga County. Smart phone use is ubiquitous among teens, even those in low-income households. In fact, socioeconomically challenged youth without Internet access at home use their smart phones to go online. The High School Transition App builds on the success of CCPL Mobile, Cuyahoga County Public Library’s first mobile app. The free CCPL Mobile offers customers the unprecedented convenience of checking out items right from their smart phone, as well as offering direct access to the customer’s account, a GPS-enabled branch locator and other useful media. Like CCPL Mobile, the High School Transition App allows users to connect with resources when and where they want. The new app’s content is organized in five categories: 1. Read It! offers literacy resources, including access to CCPL Mobile, summer reading lists and eBooks. 2. Get Organized features a personal appointment calendar to promote time management. The calendar allows students to track homework assignments, develop study skills and plan and meet deadlines. Get Organized also includes a budgeting feature to track earnings and expenses and create financial goals. 3. Social Scene offers information on mentoring and peer counseling and advice on bullying and peer pressure. The app’s instructional role-play videos, created by students from the teen club at the Library’s Southeast Branch, demonstrate the proper way to respond to common high school social challenges. 4. It’s All About Me focuses on nutrition, fitness, self-image and dress code. 5. Cool School includes school-specific virtual tours, student handbooks and information about extracurricular activities and clubs.

Progress

The High School Transition App will debut in May 2012. It will be available to students in Cleveland Municipal Schools and Parma City Schools before school lets out for the summer. Before the launch, students from MyCom’s MyMedia program are participating in focus groups and beta testing to offer insight on their experiences with the app. An app offers an easy and unobtrusive way to gather data on usage. And teens tends to offer candid opinions on pretty much everything, including smart phone apps. Based on feedback and usage statistics, the Library will continue to add and modify content after the app goes live. Cuyahoga County Public Library and its community and school partners will measure progress year to year to determine how the app influences students’ transition to high school, success through high school and, ultimately, graduation rates. While the app can be useful to any new high school student, its customized content will help students in Cleveland and Parma feel comfortable walking into their respective high schools on their first day as freshmen.