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February 27, 2015

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Students at five low-income Clark County schools getting iPads


Leila Navidi

Eighth-grader Monique Aguilar, from right, 13, learns to use her new iPad accompanied by her 16-month-old sister Yuritzi Cepeda and mother Blanca DeLeon at Ed Von Tobel Middle School in Las Vegas on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2012. The Clark County School District’s Engage, Empower, Explore (E3) program provided iPads for all students and teachers at five Title I middle schools.

iPads for Middle Schoolers

Eighth-grader Monique Aguilar, from right, 13, learns to use her new iPad accompanied by her 16-month-old sister Yuritzi Cepeda and mother Blanca DeLeon at Ed Von Tobel Middle School in Las Vegas on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2012. The Clark County School District's Engage, Empower, Explore (E3) program provided iPads for all students and teachers at five Title I middle schools. Launch slideshow »

Jury out on last year’s iPad pilot program

Last year, the nation’s fifth-largest school district piloted a $790,050 iPad program at four schools: Silverado High School, Silvestri and Leavitt middle schools and the Academy for Individualized Study, a school for nontraditional students.

About 1,150 students were given iPads with the Fuse Algebra 1 application, which was developed by textbook publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

The digital math textbooks engaged students with video tutorials and interactive activities and quizzes.

The Clark County School District and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt are still crunching the data to see if last year’s iPad program helped deliver higher test scores. A similar pilot program in Riverside, Calif., saw a 30 percentage point increase in test scores.

Education observers say it’s still too early to tell if iPad programs are cost-effective alternatives to traditional paper textbooks. It is also uncertain how effective iPad programs are in raising student achievement.

The Clark County School District launched its largest iPad program to date Thursday, putting nearly 6,500 tablet computers into the hands of students and staff at five low-income middle schools.

The Engage, Empower, Explore Project — otherwise known as E3 — is the School District’s latest and most ambitious foray into digital education.

Officials said the nearly $2.5 million iPad program would allow the district to provide a tablet computer to every student, teacher and administrator at Bridger, Garside, Martin, Sedway and Von Tobel middle schools.

“By putting an iPad in the hands of our young people, we bring the world to their fingertips every day,” Superintendent Dwight Jones said in a statement.

“New technology helps us better engage students and provide them with different ways of learning. This initiative is an important step in raising the bar and increasing student achievement,” he said.

All five middle schools participating in the program are classified as Title I schools, which means they receive federal funding to assist students from low-income families. The iPads, which cost about $2,463,500, were purchased with these federal dollars. (Title I funds cannot be used for teacher salaries or capital improvements.)

The five schools were chosen from among 16 eligible schools based on their ability to successfully implement the program. Unlike previous iPad programs in the district, the E3 initiative focuses on leveling the technological playing field for disadvantaged students.

More than 70 percent of students at each E3 school participate in the federal free and reduced-price lunch program. None of the schools are rated above three stars on the district’s five-star school ranking system.

Click to enlarge photo

Sixth grader Mario Garfias' face is reflected in his new iPad on Thursday, September 19, 2012 at Ed Von Tobel Middle School in Las Vegas. The Clark County School District's "e3: Engage, Empower, Explore Project" provided iPads for all students and teachers at five Title I middle schools.

District officials said they hope the iPad program helps raise student achievement among low-performing and low-income schools.

Students from low-income families are less likely to have a computer or Internet access at home, said Jhone Ebert, the School District’s chief technology officer. That often means learning stops when students get home, she said.

To help bridge the technology gap, CenturyLink has partnered with the School District to provide families at the five schools with less costly Internet access. The telecommunications company is offering Internet service to students and families for $9.95 a month.

With an iPad from the district and discounted home Internet access from CenturyLink, the students will be able to learn on their own time, Ebert said. Furthermore, with crowded classrooms, iPads allow for individualized education, letting students learn at their own pace, she said.

The iPads will also let students access and complete their homework, conduct research and collaborate with classmates on projects, officials said. The iPads will be used in most classes, from English to math to physical education, where students will log their fitness progress.

“These tools that are replacing pen and paper will increase student, parent and community engagement in education,” Ebert said in a statement. “We are in the next generation of education.”

The iPads will be preloaded with organizational applications, such as a note-taking app called Notability and a student planner app called MyHomework. The iPads will also come with text-editing, spreadsheet and presentation software, photo and video-editing capabilities, and a graphing calculator.

District officials said they encourage parents to use the iPads to teach their children. Parents will be able to track their child’s academic progress through the ParentLink app and can use free online resources, such as the Khan Academy educational video website, to help their children with homework.

There will be several iPad orientation sessions throughout the year to help parents and students take advantage of the tablets, Ebert said. Parents will also learn how best to monitor their children’s use of the iPads at home.

Although district networks will filter out inappropriate content on campus, parents are urged to keep tabs on their child’s iPad use. Before receiving an iPad, students and parents will be required to watch a short film on Internet safety and must sign a two-page form acknowledging district guidelines and expectations for appropriate Internet and iPad use.

Few iPads were broken, lost or stolen in previous iPad pilot programs, Ebert said. However, the district is taking care to deter thieves and protect students from theft, she said.

Each of the $399 iPad2 tablets have a unique serial number and the “Find My iPad” recovery program installed.

If a district iPad is stolen and taken to a pawn shop, it will be confiscated and returned to the district. If a stolen iPad is turned on, the “Find My iPad” application will send the coordinates of the iPad to the School District police department, which will dispatch officers to the location.

“We’ve taken several safety precautions to make Clark County School District iPads something that no one will want to take,” district spokeswoman Amanda Fulkerson said. “The bottom line is this: These are for our students and their education. If you steal a CCSD iPad, you will go to jail.”

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  1. "Students from poor families are less likely to have a computer or Internet access at home, said Jhone Ebert, the School District's chief technology officer. That often means learning stops when students get home, she said."

    That statement has got to be one of the worst I have ever heard from someone who is supposed to be an educator. Why should learning stop if a home does not have a computer or Internet access?!? If a child can not learn from reading books, what makes someone think they can read from a computer?

    It is precisely that attitude that has made me no longer want to vote for school bonds in this district. Never mind the toys and bells and whistles. Our children are lucky if they can even read "Dick and Jane" by the time they reach middle school, giving them an iPad to read it on won't make them better readers.

    This is just so much poppycock being spewed forth so someone can try to justify keeping or even increasing a budget at taxpayer expense.

  2. Pretty expensive tool for very few student's

    A school district already with financial problem's and wanting more money on the ballot in November.

    Cut Administrative overhead first or the bond issue will never pass

  3. Giving low-income students Ipads won't do a thing to help them learn or raise test scores. I know a lot of teachers, have seen it myself, these kids and their culture do not value an education. So we have to ask what the point is of guaranteeing an education to every child, and lowering the quality of education for the students that want to be there? It's just like a club; no one wants to go to one that lets everyone in. They want the exclusive one. By giving an education free to everyone, they don't appreciate it.

  4. Last night I had the unique opportunity to have a night custodian approach me, telling me about how she was a bit worried about getting to work a little late because she had to attend the parental informational on these iPads. For those folks whose lives don't normally include the luxury of such technology, this was a truly thrilling moment for this parent who would "do anything to see her children have such great educational oppportunities." This means the world to such folks. It is life changing, and they truly APPRECIATE it.

    Although many citizens can go on endlessly about the pros and cons politically about this and other educational developments, it would do well to also know that efforts such as this, are greatly valued and motivational to a population of learners (and their families) who are less advantaged and struggle to keep up with the tools and skillsets that can better prepare them for participating in the future workforce.

    Expecting 100% participation of anything is too much to ask for anything on this planet. Those who are inclined to seize the opportunity and make the most of it....will.

    Blessings and Peace,

  5. So what about the students at the other 11 eligible schools? Are they just suppose to suck on it?
    This should be done for all or done for none.

  6. Okay, grinches, you're seriously going to begrudge these poors something middle class kids take for granted? You'll note that the funds can't legally be used for salaries or construction.

    Or we could do as samjung23 suggests and do away with compulsory education. Because returning to nineteenth century illiteracy rates is a great idea. We can repeal some child labor laws so they can fill their newly acquired free time.

  7. 028tA2f, trust me, one way or the other, this will happen. The schools are failing. That's a fact. I know from other teachers and what I've seen firsthand that these kids don't want to be there, their parents don't care about what they do in school, and they are a disruption to the students that do care. It's time for the farce to end. I think you don't give educators in the 19th century enough credit. According to what I know, the quality of education in schools back then was excellent.

  8. ipads are much cheaper than texts and easier to track when lost or stolen. tablets will save millions long term. stop buying textbooks and use the free resources to learn by buying students 1 tablet.