Pasco school officials seeing good results from iPad program [Tri-City Herald (Kennewick, Wash.) :: ]
(Tri-City Herald (Kennewick, WA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) July 27--Pasco school officials are seeing good results from a program loaning iPads to elementary students this summer, though far fewer students participated than expected.
Only 275 of about 1,200 of the tablet computers purchased with $1 million in federal and state money have been loaned out since early June, said Assistant Superintendent Liz Flynn.
One of the tablets was damaged but hasn't been returned yet to be evaluated.
The students and families who checked out the iPads for the summer are heavily using the devices, requiring district staff to load more e-books for them to read.
"These kids are flying through these books," Flynn said.
Second- and third-grade students at Whittier, Virgie Robinson, Rowena Chess, Longfellow and Emerson elementary schools were targeted for the program.
Those five schools are listed as priority schools by the state, meaning fewer than 40 percent of students are at grade level in reading and math.
Nine of 10 students at each school also receive free- or reduced-price meals and many are English language learners.
Maintenance and construction projects at those schools this summer also mean the district can't offer summer school, which is often seen as crucial in preventing students from sliding academically between school years.
About 40 books in English and Spanish were loaded on each iPad through an app, as well as math-centered game apps. The tablets do not have Internet access and the cameras have been disabled.
Families had to sign a contract to use and care for the iPads and agreed to check in regularly with the district. Flynn said they've touched base with almost all the program's participants.
The district has tried to loan out more of the iPads during the summer, even visiting families in the Lakeside community, who send their children to Robinson, but there were few takers.
"For a lot, parents don't want to take on the responsibility," Flynn said.
The iPads are due back to the district by Aug. 5 so they can be reconfigured for use during the school year.
Officials said they plan to survey participating parents for feedback and track the children to see how the iPads affected them academically but they already plan to offer the devices again next summer.
"It kept kids excited and motivated," Flynn said.
-- Ty Beaver: 509-582-1402; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @_tybeaver; Google+: +TyBeaverTCHerald
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