Upgrading at the speed of technology, the Rialto Unified School District has not only been overhauling its entire technology system over the last three years, but the opportunities for student learning are also increasing through the use of new devices that will greatly assist them in their school work, testing and help them become competitive in the job market later.
Beginning with a much-needed technology infrastructure update to meet the demands of the new California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP), the district began updating all the ‘behind the scenes’ hardware, and increasing bandwidth, which in general terms is the amount of capability needed for internet connection.
Through the hardware upgrade it became evident that many of the existing devices such as classroom computers were not able to meet the necessary technical requirements, or that of the educational programs and testing software.
“The demands of the educational programs and assessment software had exceeded the capabilities of the hardware,” said John Roach, Lead Academic Technology Agent for the Rialto Unified School District. “In order for teachers and students to be able to maximize their use of the updated software programs we needed a plan to provide new computers and other devices ready to meet the technical demands.”
With the shift to Common Core, there was also a need to have a fully upgraded infrastructure as well as devices to enable students to become proficient in technology, which is one of the Common Core requirements.
The District has purchased the following equipment in the first of its 3-year rollout:
- iPad Mini carts for RUSD preschools with a count of 30 iPad mini’s and cases per cart;
- iPad Mini carts for kindergarten and first grade to share 30 iPad Mini’s and cases per cart;
- Second grade classes will share a Chromebook cart with 35 Chromebooks per cart;
- Third through sixth grades will receive a Chromebook cart per classroom with 40 Chromebooks per cart;
- Math and science classes at high schools will receive a laptop cart with 32 laptops per cart and 4 additional laptops as needed (to meet class sizes of 36).
How will the iPads and Chromebooks be used exactly?
The iPads for grades TK, K and 1, for example, were provided with a primary purpose of providing access to Footsteps 2 Brilliance, part of the district’s literacy initiative. Teachers also have the opportunity to provide access to other educational programs that will enhance student learning.
For the 2017-18 school year, Chromebooks were provided for students in grades 2, 3 and 6. New laptop carts were provided to specific subject areas at the high school level. Over the next two years, class sets of new devices will be provided for all classrooms in the district so that all students can access G Suite for Education, online curriculum materials, online assessments and other web based educational programs that will enhance student learning
Over the next two years, class sets of new devices will be provided for all classrooms in the district so that all students can access G Suite for Education, which is a variety of free tools provided by Google, while at the same time supporting the learning objectives for student online curriculum materials, assessments and other web based educational programs.
Funding for the upgrades and new devices comes directly from the district’s general fund. The cost of the new devices only (not the infrastructure upgrades), will be $36 million over three years.
“We made a shift in priorities to make sure that we could provide this technology for our students,” Roach said about the funding priorities for the program. “We are working to prepare students to be competitive in obtaining future careers that most likely have not even been created yet.”
Finally, Roach added that the Rialto Unified School District “intends to provide the opportunity for students to learn how to responsibly utilize technology as it relates to the 4 C’s of 21st century learning: critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity.”
“We are surrounded by new technologies and the expectation is that students learn how to navigate their future college or career choices having the necessary technology skills to be successful,” he concluded.
by Cynthia Mendoza