The district for which I am proposing policies is located in northern New Mexico. The district is currently comprised of a little more than 3,100 students from ten sites, including five Native American pueblos. There is some economic disparity among sites, with the community of Placitas being the most economically stable, while other sites are less so. That said, the five pueblos hold considerable sway in the district because although many residents of those sites live at or below poverty level, their schools receive a larger percentage of federal funds than others in the district.
The district states on their site that they, “believe that the use of tablet computers and access to available technology, integrated throughout our program of instruction, will help prepare students for their future.” While students are required to attend computer class and are given some access to technology, the district is generally hesitant to make any changes, particularly at individual schools. Two years ago Placitas Elementary (my home school) attempted to implement a new program of using i-Pads in a one to one scenario at the school and although they intended to raise the money themselves, the request was denied at the district level. Last year they attempted a similar program using Google Chromebooks, which are much more cost effective and user friendly than district supplied devices, but again their request was denied.
The unofficial statement from the district was that they could not allow programs such as these to occur at individual schools because others in the district would get upset. The current situation is that there are just two carts of approved devices (one of laptops and one of tablets) that have to be shared between eight different classes. All students take standardized tests on computers, yet they are not getting adequate practice.
According to the district website, they were supposedly implementing a district-wide one for one program in the 2015-2016 school year. It is unclear whether this program was implemented at any other school, but it was certainly not at Placitas Elementary. As of now it appears that those in charge in the district have a general understanding that students should be exposed to technology, but they are confused about how to implement it and have therefore found themselves frozen by indecision, much to the detriment of students.
Ideally, the district will someday implement policies that will provide adequate access to up-to-date technologies for all students. From a base level, they should strive to provide ample support and training for administrators, teachers, and students. The technology use would ideally be incorporated into all viable aspects of the curriculum.
Were the district to take a more generous and far-seeing approach, they would also grant individual schools some autonomy with a scope of reasonable expectations. This autonomy would be realized in schools being able to select their preferred devices and to implement them in the ways that best suit the needs of their individual student body. For example, one school may choose to spend their energies using the technology in only the most prescribed fashion because they might prefer to additionally focus on other social or curricular elements. Another school, by contrast, may choose to implement the technology far beyond what is required. In a far-seeing district both models would be permitted so long as the baseline of technological literacy and support for all involved are adequately met.
Students, teachers, administrators and other education professionals
have support for and equitable access to:
- appropriate training for programs and devices
- devices and peripherals
- digital learning environments
- curriculum designed to maximize learning with technology
- targeted and equitable instructional assessment strategies
- high-speed, reliable internet access