Writing for The Birmingham News, Troy Goodman describes the end of another school year at Vestavia Hills Elementary Cahaba Heights in Alabama, one much different from years past because of a pilot program that gave all the sixth graders iBooks. "Itis a bummer," one student was quoted as saying as he returned his laptop.
Goodman explains that the program will continue for two more years and could expand to all the sixth graders in the district, depending on decisions made by a committee comprised of parents, teachers and administrators. He says that "most teachers saw not only significantly increased class time on computers, but also improvements in attendance. They mentioned that students seemed less distracted and got more work done on time, and there were fewer disciplinary problems."
The district entered into a three-year lease with Apple for approximately US$127,000 for 75 laptops, which included training, software and a service plan. It chose the Cahaba Heights school because it already had a wireless network in place. Despite budget constraints, the state hopes to expand the use of computers in its classrooms: according to the May 5 issue of Education Week, Alabama ranks 45th in the U.S. in student access to computers and 43rd in student access to computers connected to the Internet.