The Exeter R-6 School District is working to put computers into the hands of more students. During the 2012-13 school year, all third grade students will be issued Kineo tablets.
"We need to begin to put devices into students' hands in a way that can be sustained," said Dr. Ernest Raney, Exeter superintendent. "This is our first step."
Exeter will implement Brainchild's AYP package, which includes 50 Kineos, an Achiever subscription for the entire school and three days of onsite professional development. The tablets will come pre-loaded with the Achiever software, which is designed to help students prepare for MAP (Missouri Assessment Program) testing.
"Our focus is on improving MAP test scores," said Dr. Raney. "We chose third grade because that is when our MAP testing begins.
"We want to equip kids with these tools as early as possible to make the most difference in their performance," said Dr. Raney. "Then, we will build the program from there."
The Achiever program will be compatible with the district's new Title I computer lab, which serves kindergarten through eighth grade students.
"The advantages of the tablets for our students are that they can take them home and work on them in addition to doing their regular homework," said Dr. Raney. "They don't require an internet connection.
"These devices are more durable, kid friendly and rugged than an iPad or a Kindle Fire," said Dr. Raney. "They are designed to endure being banged around. Kids don't mean to be rough, but they need something kid friendly."
Dr. Raney said the district looked at several different types of tablets before selecting the Kineo devices.
"Five to 10 years from now, text books are going to look a lot different than they do today," said Dr. Raney. "We feel like this is what things will look like in the future, but of course, things can change. It is just going to get better.
"Every chance we get to improve the learning opportunity for our students we need to take it," said Dr. Raney. "We are always looking for ways to get more out of instruction time, and we feel that our students will be more motivated to work with the tablets. For these kids, technology is second nature."
Dr. Raney said that the district is hoping to see at least a 2 percent overall increase in MAP test scores after implementing the Kineos in the third grade classrooms next year.
The tablets will be paid for using Title I school improvement funds that have been earmarked for MAP proficiency improvements. The district received $15,000 in grant funding last year and this year. The $30,000 in funding will cover the purchase of the technology package, said Dr. Raney.
"This is just a small part of what is to come as technology improves," said Dr. Raney. "We want all of our kids to have access to this type of technology at some point."
Currently, the Exeter School District offers three computer labs. In addition to the Title I lab, students have access to a business computer lab and a distance learning computer lab.
"The Title I lab has been a good addition for us," said Dr. Raney. "It is equipped with a SMARTBoard and 30 computers that students use to improve math and reading skills."