Next Generation Classroom in Our Backyard
MOORESVILLE, N.C. - Look around Tara Franco's fifth grade math class and you'll see a sea of laptops, not textbooks. She says, "I don't even have them in my classroom, to be totally honest."
Within the Mooresville Graded School District, about 4,400 students in grades three through 12 are issued Mac books to use in school and at home. Franco says, "Oh my goodness, they are so adept at them, it's amazing."
The digital conversion happened four years ago. The district saves money on expensive text books, paper supplies and computer labs. The classes are now held up across the country as an example of the "next generation." The graduation rate has gone from 76 percent to 91 percent. Math and reading scores are up. And students say they love it. Fifth grader Jackson Reid says, "It'll just give me an advantage, 'cause if I look for a job where I have to use a computer, I'll know how to do everything."
While job hunting is years off, right now, students can work ahead or linger on lessons. Fifth-grader Carli Nathan says, "It helps me better cause I'm not rushing and then I don't understand it later. You can go at your own pace and you'll understand it."
Another cool feature of the lap top program is that there are no surprises when it comes to grades. Paper report cards are still sent home but students and parents can check grades anytime online.
Principal Felicia Bustle says, "If a parent knew they had a math test, and the test was given online, the parent would know within 15 or 20 minutes what the student scored."
Back in Franco's classroom, she says simply: this is 21st century learning. "By the time they're all seniors in high school, they will be so well ahead of children in other districts, young adults at that time, just having been exposed to the use of technology," says Franco.
The computers are leased from Apple. Students pay a yearly $50 usage fee that covers maintenance and repairs. Those who can't afford it, about 18 percent, are given assistance.