In an op-ed for Sunday’s Washington Post, Kwame Simmons — Principal of Kramer Middle School in Washington, D.C. and recent participant in our education-focused webinar — wrote about how his school has embraced technology in an effort to better educate kids:
At the end of the 2011-2012 academic year, Kramer logged barely double-digit scores on the D.C. Comprehensive Assessment System (CAS): 17 percent proficient in reading and 26 percent proficient in math. The school had a much-warranted bull’s-eye on its back. But after a year of planning and a three-year School Improvement Grant and two-year Race to the Top grant from the U.S. Education Department, we have high hopes for change. Our secret weapon and education equalizer? Broadband.
Kramer is the first school in the district to implement a new program that is predicted to elevate student engagement and drastically improve test scores. The grant funding has increased the number of laptops available for use in our classrooms, so that we now have a one-to-one student-to-laptop scenario at Kramer, a rare gift in the field of education.
That one-to-one student-to-laptop scenario Simmons mentions is impressive — and important. With school districts increasingly facing cutbacks and growing class sizes, technology like laptops and tablets — and the next-generation networks that power them — can unlock opportunities once out of reach and help students succeed. That’s something we should all be behind, but as Simmons goes on to note, the country still has a ways to go:
Unfortunately, this isn’t the norm in our country. According to the Federal Communications Commission’s National Broadband Plan, only 37 percent of all teachers reported having electronic access to achievement data for students in their classrooms. Building out reliable broadband access must remain a national priority.
Simmons then touched on something we here at IIA have long focused on. Namely, the need for more investment in broadband:
I’m highly committed to proving him wrong and hitting our goal of boosting test scores by 40 percentage points in five years. As we closely monitor the progress at Kramer, let’s encourage the public and private sectors to invest in the networks that make online learning possible. Broadband is the bridge that will connect D.C. Public Schools’ goals to reality.