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District 428 could upgrade technology

Board members will vote on use of funds from $21 million construction grant Feb.

Published: Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014 5:30 a.m. CDT

DeKALB – DeKalb School District 428 board members could spend $1.6 million to update technology for new state assessments and launch a pilot one-to-one technology program.

Board members will vote on whether to use part of a $21 million construction grant to the upgrade the district’s technology and give some grades as many computer devices as students during their Feb. 18 meeting.

The first part of the technology upgrades, $1.1 million, would be used to update the district’s technology infrastructure to prepare for the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for Colleges and Careers assessment, Assistant Superintendent Doug Moeller explained during a board meeting Tuesday.

The PARCC assessment will replace the Illinois Standard Achievement Test and the Prairie State Achievement Exam in the 2014-15 school year and be administered entirely by computer. 

Most of the $1.1 million for the PARCC assessment portion would be used for technology. Moeller presented a PARCC recommendation to have at least one computer lab for every 200 students and update the district’s infrastructure to assure it can handle large groups of students going online for the assessment at once.

“If we don’t have the appropriate bandwidth and access points and all these kids are logging on, we’re going to have trouble with the system crashing,” Moeller said. “We can’t afford to have that happen when we’re taking high-stakes testing.”

Another $560,000 would be used to launch a pilot one-to-one technology program, an initiative that would give every student a computer device they would also take home at night.

Lincoln Elementary School and the eighth-grade classes at both of the district’s middle schools would be part of the pilot program. District officials have yet to determine what devices to purchase, but have considered several options, such as iPads and Chromebooks. Devices would vary based on students’ age.

The district could spend $425,000 to purchase 850 devices, although Moeller said the cost likely would be less; and $135,329 to hire a full-time IT staff member and a full-time instructional coach and train staff.

Lincoln Elementary Principal Anna Hoyou told the board the one-to-one technology would enhance teachers’ abilities to focus on inquiry-based learning, individual student learning and bringing the world to the classroom.

“When you have one-to-one technology, you are allowed to send kids off into smaller groups to be collaborative with each other,” Hoyou said. “It also allows at the same time for a teacher to meet with a group of six students at a table and make the classroom those six students.”

Moeller explained the pilot program would allow officials to assess the benefits and costs of the district moving to a one-to-one technology environment. Also, students with devices would take the PARCC assessment on those devices.

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