Oregon School’s Parents Overwhelmingly Buy In To iPad Program

Almost all parents in an Oregon school district agree that the use of iPads in the classrooms of a middle school will benefit students. The anonymous survey was taken by a total of 176 parents and included 10 questions about experiences with the iPads and how the devices affect communication and their student's education. People were asked to respond with agree, strongly agree, disagree, strongly disagree or neutral. Starting this school year, Neil Armstrong Middle School distributed iPads among 850 students, writes Laura Frazier of The Oregonian, and 87% of parents favor the program.

According to the Forest Grove School District estimates, the two-year pilot program will cost $300,000 a year. The district could eventually implement the program district-wide.

In total, 642 parents, students and teachers participated in the surveys. Principal Brandon Hundley said the first round of surveys was designed to collect preliminary data on the program. Earlier this fall, the district established evaluation metrics for the program with the help of behavioral data and state test scores, among other factors.

The survey was available for about a month this fall at parent teacher conferences. Also, there was a link to the survey on the school's web site, according to Hundley.

"Basically what we're trying to find out is if the parents agree that the digital conversion is a good thing to do," Hundley said.

A majority of parents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement that the NAMS digital conversion is the right thing to do for students. Only 12 disagreed or strongly disagreed and 11 were neutral.

About 85% strongly believe that the experience with the iPads has been positive for their student while 18 parents disagreed or strongly disagreed that the iPads have been positive for their student, and eight parents responded neutral. A total of 120 parents strongly agreed or agreed that student's school-work is more organized now than it was before coming to NAMS, with 33 disagreed or strongly disagreed.

Parents were also asked on the survey if it's easier now to monitor their student's work and communicate with teachers. Twenty-four parents disagreed or strongly disagreed and 121 agreed or strongly agreed that it's easier to monitor their student's work since the digital conversion. Thirty-one parents gave a response of neutral to the statement.

In response to a question whether it is easier to reach teachers than before the digital conversion, 47 parents responded with neutral, 20 parents disagreed or strongly disagreed, and 109 parents agreed or strongly agreed that communication has improved.

Parents are required to pay $50 a year for iPad program. According to Hundley, scholarships are available for families who need it.

As of December 2nd, a total of 601 families have paid the full fee, 10 families have received scholarships, and 143 families are on installment plans, paying between $5 and $45 so far, Hundley said, noting that they will be contacting 96 families who still need to start a payment plan.

Parents who took the survey could also fill in where they need more help. Several parents said they need support in helping their student with homework, applications on the iPads, or Synergy and Schoology, two programs the school uses for grading and assignments.

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