How Technology is Increasing Student Achievement in Alabama
Say the word “Alabama” and most people outside the state would immediately think about college football or that catchy Lynyrd Skynyrd tune. In fact, Huntsville, Alabama offers a lot more than this. Huntsville is called The Rocket City for its role in putting man on the moon with the Saturn V, developed at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.
Huntsville has maintained its intellectual capital, having the highest concentration of engineers in the nation and ranking in the top five nationally for computer, IT, and STEM professions. Named one of the world’s 10 smartest cities in 2010, Huntsville ranks in the top 15% nationally for adult education levels.
Naturally, technology plays a critical role in the Huntsville area’s ability to remain competitive. And since kids nowadays are widely considered “digital natives”, Huntsville thought it could be a good idea to embrace the power of digital technology as a tool to increase student learning in the classroom.
In 2012, Huntsville City Schools became the nation’s only PreK-12 “one to one” school district—one digital device for every student. In addition to providing up-to-date content at less cost than new text books, the system saw a decrease in behavior problems and an increase in student engagement. And because every student has either a laptop or an iPad, instruction is individualized and assessment can be incorporated into the classroom.
The technology is a tool used to enhance teaching, and the payoffs have been dramatic. Reading scores are up 18% and math scores are up 27%.
“This generation of kids is very comfortable with digital,” said Melissa Thompson, past president of the PTA. “So to bring this tool into the classroom really speaks the language of the kids today.”
Furthermore, the use of digital technology is helping to prepare students to be career-ready after high school.
“This is preparing them to be successful, not just for the next grade level, but for life,” said second grade teacher, LaTasha Bell. “Technology is the way of the world.”
The Huntsville one to one initiative is a great example of how technology can help enhance student engagement and increase student learning.
In a city where jobs are heavily focused in the IT, computer, and the STEM sectors, Huntsville’s one to one initiative will pay dividends by preparing students with the skills sought by the local business community.
Who knows, maybe one of these kids will take The Rocket City to new heights by putting the first man or woman on Mars.