Number of technology-ready school districts increases sevenfold in one year

MGN Online
Thursday, August 22, 2013 - 1:49pm

The Louisiana Department of Education today released its third semi-annual Louisiana Technology Footprint, indicating that the number of technology-ready Louisiana school systems has increased by a factor of seven since July 2012. Over the last year, school districts across the state have upgraded or purchased an additional 65,281 devices such as computers and tablets. Because of these efforts, Louisiana now has 1,208 schools and 37 districts meeting the state’s minimum technology device standards of one computing device for every seven students. This is up from 812 schools and 17 districts in January 2013. Now more than 86 percent of Louisiana public school students attend a school that meets 7:1 minimum technology standards. These upgrades are essential to providing individual learning opportunities for students that prepare them for college or career.

“In the 21st century, technology is an everyday right for our students,” said State Superintendent John White. “This is not a matter of one test or one room within the school building. It’s about the way we live today and the world our kids will inherit as adults. Learning and technology are inextricably linked.

In the Footprint, the state details basic standards for the number of technology devices a school district should have per student to be technology ready. In July 2012, five districts met the minimum standard; one year later, more than seven times as many districts meet this mark. The state also has seen growth among the number of districts meeting more ambitious standards, with 19 districts achieving a 5 students to 1 device ratio. Eight districts have improved to the excellent standard of a 3 to 1 ratio:

  • Ascension Parish
  • Cameron Parish
  • Claiborne Parish
  • East Baton Rouge Parish
  • Iberville Parish
  • Plaquemines Parish
  • St. Helena Parish
  • St. James Parish (1:1)

"Our one to one project brings 21st century teaching and learning to Iberville,” said Superintendent of Iberville Parish Dr. Edward Cancienne. “We are moving at a rapid rate of speed in the area of technology instruction."

The Department has supported districts through partnerships with technology vendors, providing access to technology at a reduced cost. The state's contract with Hewlett Packard Computers, for example, has saved districts more than $700,000 in new computers and installation services. The Department also has provided support to districts through technology consulting services and by proving flexibility around how federal and state funds can be used to purchase technology. Each year, school districts spend roughly $50 million on paper textbooks.

Districts also made progress in increasing Internet bandwidth and local network capacity, ensuring that information can be downloaded and uploaded with needed speed. The state’s basic standard for bandwidth readiness requires a 100 kbps (kilobits-per-second per student) of Internet and network capacity, allowing students to complete an online learning assessment. Thirty-seven districts have both the Internet and network capacity to conduct these assessments, an improvement over 24 districts meeting that mark one year ago. Additionally, 18 districts have either fully adequate Internet bandwidth or fully adequate network capacity, meaning that they will soon likely be ready for online assessment in both categories.

“Louisiana will insist on technology readiness until all students have the technology they need to learn,” said Superintendent White. “This work is a priority for our state, and the incredible results we have seen in a short amount of time show that this is also a priority for districts.”

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