The New London-Spicer School Board learned Monday that the Minnesota Department of Education has deemed the district's technology improvement project "educationally and economically advisable", writes Gretchen Schlosser at the West Central Tribune.
This approval means that the district can proceed with its three-year capital project and seek voter approval of a $1.5 million operating levy referendum in the Nov. 8 election. Superintendent Paul Carlson also reviewed the timeline of dates required for the referendum notifications, publications and absentee balloting.
The technology project will benefit schools such as Prairie Woods Elementary and the Middle School, updating computer labs and adding Smartboards, purchasing iPad2s and carts and video production equipment upgrades. The technology project will also include district-wide network upgrades, including wireless networking, amplification systems, writes Schlosser.
The board also heard a report from Josh Sumption, IT department manager for the Southwest/West Central Cooperative. The cooperative can offer the district can benefit from an assessment "which can determine areas where they to improve their technology and how new technology and training can work with the district's existing equipment and knowledge."
This news comes in light of the fact that fewer than half of students pass Minnesota science exams, writes Megan Boldt and MaryJo Webster at twincities.com.
According to data released Friday by the Minnesota Department of Education, about 48 percent met or exceeded state standards, a 1 percentage point drop from 2010.
More than 179,000 students in grades five, eight and high school took the online, interactive test this spring for the fourth year.
There are no consequences for low scores in the science test. Poor performance on reading and math tests, in contrast, can result in sanctions if schools aren't making adequate progress.
Mike Lindstrom, previously executive director of St. Paul-based SciMath, an expert group that works to improve math, science and technology standards, said the lack of consequences might be a factor in the lackluster science results.
"When budgets are tight like they are now, schools are going to focus their dollars on those high-stake areas," Lindstrom said. "Math and reading are going to become the priority."
Next spring, students will take a new science test based on more rigorous standards. As from this year's ninth-graders, to achieve high school diploma, students will have to take physics, chemistry or a vocational tech class.
To help with the transition, resources are available to teachers. Math and science academies have been set up in the state to aid teachers deliver higher quality content in their classrooms. And the STEM Teacher Center is an online professional development site that has lessons and activity ideas for teachers specifically related to math and science standards.