Minimum computer standards met by majority of Louisiana schools

On Wednesday, Louisiana State Superintendent of Education, John White, said that public schools that meet the state’s minimum technology standard, which is one computer for every seven students, are attended by three out of four students.

However, including the Central, Lafayette, Orleans, Livingston, West Baton Rouge and Jefferson school systems, 22 school districts are still trying to reach Louisiana’s goal.

“Technology became an important part of our daily lives years ago so it is not a question of a deadline,” he said.

An update on recent computer gains and an elaboration on a briefing he gave to the House and Senate education committees on January 15th were highlighted by Whites’ comments. 47 of 69 school districts have met the state standard, which includes computers and tablets. The East Baton Rouge and St. Tammany parish school systems are included in the list. A 3-1 ratio has been achieved by the Ascension Parish school system and 5-1 ratios have been achieved by the Zachary and West Feliciana school systems. One computer per student is offered by the St. Helena, St. James and Cameron school systems.

“This is about leadership, not about being rural or urban, large or small,” White said.

The knowledge that more students will be taking online tests because of the national academic standards called Common Core is another motivation. For years, high school students have taken online exams. However, the state is a long way from providing all students with individualized computers as White said last month.

He said the 7-1 ratio is manageable because online tests are staggered and the minimum standard “allows students to have intermittent access through the day.”

Some superintendents claim they are having problems finding money for the computers. Through partnerships with technology vendors to trim costs and through assistance from the federal government’s E-Rate program, state officials say they are assisting the districts.

66 school districts have enough network infrastructures to handle student tests and 58 have basic internet capacity according to White. Both totals are up from 36 in 2012.

$36.5 million in E-Rate reimbursements have been collected by districts in Louisiana. Technology updates every six months for the past two years have been released by the state Department of Education. District snapshots and school-by-school analysis are included in this one. A changed mindset from traditional textbooks and other materials, which spark about $50 million of spending per year, are represented by the drive for improved technology as White said.

As reported by Will Sentell of The Advocate, officials also said that:

  • 906 of 1,180 schools meet the 7-1 ratio of students to computers.
  • 35 of the 47 districts that meet the state minimum exceed the 7-1 ratio, up from nine a year ago.
  • Districts have upgraded or purchased about 129,000 desktops, laptops and tablets since July 2011.