Schools Come Up Short in Technology
Barrington School Committee hears an overview of the district's current technology, which is seen as insufficient to meet future demands.
Barrington simply needs more technology in its schools if students are to learn, be assessed, and be taught in the most creative and knowledgeable way possible in the future.
Katie Miller, the technology director for Barrington's schools, offered that assessment to the School Committee at its most recent meeting last Tuesday, Nov. 20. She made that assessment as part of an overview of the 2012-2015 BPS Technology Plan, which does not include financial projections.
“We have had a strong commitment to educational technology,” Miller said. “And the readiness to move forward is at an all-time high.”
But, she said, “there is a real urgency with the implementation of the Common Core State Standards and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC).”
“We don’t have the right equipment to administer PARCC,” she said. Or, in other words, to “measure what matters.”
And the district can’t offer teachers the technology to build digital learning opportunities necessary to meet state, national and international standards.
“We can’t meet the above,” Miller said. “We need a greater infusion of technology.”
The ultimate goal, of course, she said, is at least one Internet accessible device per student with the appropriate software and broadband access.
Right now, the ratios at the high school and middle school are 5:1 and 4:1, respectively, she said, “not all that bad” unless the equipment is not put in the annual replacement cycle.
But, Miller said, “the ratios at the elementary schools are pretty dismal – 11:1 at Primrose Hill, 9:1 at Nayatt and Sowams, and 6:1 at Hampden Meadows.
What to do?
Miller said the school district has three alternatives:
- stick with the status quo – level funding and student-to-device ratios that are "not all that good";
- make a “big leap” that includes the status quo and a 5-year plan to get to a 1:1 ratio in grades 4-12;
- take a “middle path” that involves the status quo and a “shared use” of technology for a year to get to a 1:1 ratio.
School Committee Vice Chairman Scott Fuller said before he makes a commitment, “I would like to know how we would use technology effectively.”
“I don’t want technology for the sake of technology,” said Fuller. “I don’t just want to throw it into a classroom.”
“What does it mean practically speaking?” he said. "Can you find someone who is ahead of us and how it's working there?"
School Committee member Robert Shea asked: “How does this dovetail with other plans, such as the Strategic Plan? A lot more thanking has to take place to dovetail this with the Strategic Plan.”
Miller said the right way to move forward is to pick a path and develop a comprehensive plan.
She suggested establishing a district technology advisory subcommittee with the support of the Town Council and the Committee on Appropriations because of the financial impact a significant purchase of technology would have on the town.
Incoming School Committee member Paula Dominguez said “professional development” also must be included in any technology plan. That will help to determine the appropriate ratio for devices and students.