Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools took a monumental step toward integrating 21st century learning tools into the curriculum this past week when the school board approved the district’s first 1:1 technology initiative.
The plan, scheduled for implementation at the start of the 2013-14 year, will provide iPads for every student in third through fifth grade, and put MacBook Air laptops into the hands of every student in sixth to 12th grade.
Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Anthony Jackson called the effort the school district’s “technology revolution.”
The school system started dabbling with the idea of putting interactive technology into the hands of all students last year with an iPad pilot initiative in grades 3-5 at eight of the district’s elementary schools.
School officials said, and classroom sets of iPad’s were provided for each grade level in addition to teacher training and ongoing professional development.
As was the case with the iPad initiative last year, the laptop initiative will begin with a small pilot this spring program, with the expectation that all students will receive their device in fall 2013.
Jackson said the initiative is designed to capitalize on the 21st century skills many students use on a daily basis.
“Our students require a learning environment that integrates today’s digital tools, accommodates a mobile lifestyle, adapts to individual learning styles and encourages collaboration and teamwork,” Jackson said. “We must be willing to embrace technology and integrate it in our instruction if we want our students to be competitive.”
The initiative will provide students with 24-hour access to instructional tools programmed on their individual machines but with some limitations set forth in a plan developed by the school system, officials said.
After conducting an initial review of student achievement data from the schools that participated in the iPad pilot last year, school officials said the majority of students in the pilot schools experienced growth in both reading and math skills.
“While (it is) too early to say that these devices made the difference, we do know that by putting digital technology in the hands of our students and equipping our teachers with the skills needed to infuse the technology into lessons – we are creating educational eco-systems that support both rigorous and relevant instruction in our classrooms,” Jackson said. “We are ultimately setting the conditions for real academic transformation.”
The 1-to-1 initiative is projected to cost approximately $2.5 million every year for three years, and funds already in the system’s budget will be re-directed to finance those payments.
Once the initiative is fully implemented, nearly 12,000 students will be served.