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El Paso County Colorado District 49

iPad program needs stats to back it up

Following last school yearís One-to-One iPad pilot program in the Power Zone, other schools in Falcon School District 49 have launched their own iPad programs. There is some concern that schools are spending money on iPads without statistical information proving the benefits of the program.Michael Petersen, parent of a student at Falcon Elementary School, said he and other parents at other schools have declined to sign the iPad agreement sent home with their student. The agreement doesnít keep his student from using the iPad while at school, but she cannot take it home to use unless the agreement is signed, he said.ìIf youíre going to set aside this money, you should have a plan and a way to make an honest assessment of the results,î Petersen said.Peter Hilts, D 49 chief education officer, said, ìWhat weíre trying to do is while the students are learning how to use the devices, mostly iPads but other devices, too, weíre learning how to measure the impacts of using those devices.îOne issue is finding the go-to person for the program to get his questions answered, Petersen said. ìNo one really told me who should be talked to regarding issues with the iPad program,î he said. ìAs far as Iím concerned, weíll just go to the teacher, but that doesnít quite satisfy me from a parent and taxpayer perspective.îìMy goal is not to train a teacher to address a borderline legal question about the iPads,î Hilts said. ìThe school leadership and zone leadership should be next (after speaking to the teacher). In all of these areas, you want to start at the most local level.ìWhen you try an innovation like the One-to-One iPad one, you often have a champion. What always happens is that innovation vision that the champion owns has to get distributed out, and the ownership of that innovation has to be shared. Weíre in the middle of that transition.îOne person who initially championed the iPad program was Don Beiger, the interim CEO prior to Hilt. Beiger is no longer with the district.In terms of the iPadsí program statistics, Hilts said some information has been compiled from the pilot program launched last year at Skyview Middle School; however, there is also student data contained in the statistical report that cannot be publicly shared, he said.ìWe have seen the use of iPads strongly correlate to significant gains in reading; strongly correlate to moderate gains in math; and strongly correlate to minimal gains in writing,î Hilts said. ìBy January, I will have graphs and charts and analyses and will be able to go into more detail.îWithout that information, Petersen said there is no way to track if and how the program has influenced academic achievements. ìIf this is a wonderful success and students are excelling beyond their years, how can you know what caused it?î he said.ìThe big factor is that the zone implementations (of the iPad program) are so different that some of the insight doesnít naturally translate across (the zones),î Hilts said. ìHowever, this is a regular topic of conversation when our zone leaders and academic people are together. Weíre talking about whatís working and whatís not. Letís try it, figure it out and if it doesnít work, letís acknowledge it and move on. Thereís a relatively small cost regarding money and time.î

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