Computers urged for teachers

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Enabling teachers to make instant "data-driven" decisions and keeping parents informed about their children's class work has long been talked about in Richmond County, but it could become reality.

On Thursday, a sales tax oversight committee recommended spending $813,174 to purchase 866 computers. The purchase would ensure every Richmond County teacher has a dedicated computer, which can be used for student grades, test scores and communicating with parents through iParent.

"iParent has hovered around for years and never been fully implemented," Superintendent Dana Bedden said.

The program allows teachers to record their students' grades, attendance, test scores and discipline records on a secure Web site that parents can log into.

Last month, the school board began requiring all teachers to use iParent, but hundreds of them didn't have a computer to use for confidential tasks.

There has been a significant interest in iParent, Dr. Bedden said, adding that he receives a few e-mails every month asking that it be implemented at all schools.

Currently, only five Richmond County schools use the program, although all are capable of implementing it.

The computers also will enable teachers to use the school system's new "data director," a software program that compiles a student's grades and test scores and enables a teacher to instantly see a student's strengths and weaknesses.

"That is powerful when you're able to focus in and zoom in on what the students have been having trouble in for three years," Kim Stripling, Richmond County's Web master, told the committee. "That just blew me away."

A teacher, for instance, can immediately tell whether a student has been struggling with fractions and tailor instruction to address that need, she said.

"I remember running down to the vault and pulling all those records," Ms. Stripling said.

Director of Educational Media and Technology Carol Taylor compared it to seeing a doctor.

"The computer is the vital tool to diagnose and help that child," she said.

The school board could approve the committee's recommendation as soon as next week at its monthly meetings.

Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or greg.gelpi@augustachronicle.com.

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MyOpinion2
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MyOpinion2 10/03/08 - 01:28 pm
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Funny, the teachers I

Funny, the teachers I remember way back then did much better than these schools today, and they never had a Computer (only books, chalk and chalkboard). Too many toys for teachers and students, and not enough work. All these gimics are NOT making our students any smarter, go back to the basics, and keep you hands outta the taxpayers pockets, already, enough is enough!

teacher02
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teacher02 10/03/08 - 02:50 pm
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It's not really fair to

It's not really fair to compare the schools today to past times. In the past, there was no smothering federal bureaucracy in the schools, and students who misbehaved or chose not to achieve left the system. Times have changed and the students with them. We are in a technology driven society, so it is important to have it readily available in all classrooms. Technology has greatly contributed to my growth as an educator, by allowing me to actively engage my students in ways that were formerly not possible while making it feasible to keep a continuous dialogue with parents through such wonderful programs as I-Parent.

NEone
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NEone 10/03/08 - 03:09 pm
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MyOpinion: You can complain

MyOpinion: You can complain about all the extras, but you benefit from them every day... computers time traffic lights, run your car, keep the phones working right, program the car wash and the cash registers at the store. Too many ways to mention. It's outrageous to think the teachers don't have a computer to use for data storage and communication. Teachers didn't need them in 1880 (or 1980) but they do today.

KingJames
11
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KingJames 10/03/08 - 03:14 pm
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The schools in Virginia that

The schools in Virginia that my sons attended used a similar information system. I received an email each time a teacher posted grades to their electronic grade book. Teachers were even able to post study material for parents to review with their kids. This kept parents who really wanted to be involved in their kids' education involved and informed. One of my kids hated it because I always knew what he had to study, and he couldn't just tell me that he didn't have any homework. The instructional trend analysis tool for teachers should also be available for parents to review so that it, along with grade reports, can be used so parents will always know where their child stands academically. No parent with a computer and the Internet should be able to say that they were unaware that their child was in danger of failing. As for taxes, well the only problem that taxpayers should have is that iParent was puchased years ago and never used. That's the only waste I see.

iletuknow
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iletuknow 10/03/08 - 04:19 pm
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$800K for an electronic

$800K for an electronic report card. Why not use the money to help actually educate the kids or is that idea too old fashioned.

BarstoolDreamer
19
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BarstoolDreamer 10/03/08 - 04:45 pm
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lol..."back in my day..." if

lol..."back in my day..." if you want your kids to have a job any uneducated person can do, lets teach um that readin and writin and get them out there a workin....

teacher02
3
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teacher02 10/03/08 - 04:55 pm
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The $800 K is for the

The $800 K is for the purchase of computers for all classrooms, which will actually help to educate the kids. Teachers need computers for lesson development, online resources and collaboration, website development and maintenance, grade keeping, and basic e-mail correspondance. And I do not have time to go into the multitide of ways I can further reach my students when I combine it with a an LCD projector or SMART Board technology. In the year 2008, it is absurd that such an important institution as the school system would be expected to go without even minimum technology. As for the "electronic report card", it has been an overwelming success in Columbia County where it has been utilized for years. It provides a perpetual progress report to parents, students, and teachers and makes it much easier to address problems as they become apparent (As opposed to waiting until the end of a grading period). This furthers the collaboration between everyone and has really helped to identify struggling students while there is still time to help.

No_Longer_Amazed
5146
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No_Longer_Amazed 10/03/08 - 07:34 pm
0
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teacher02: I disagree with

teacher02: I disagree with your comment "The $800 K is for the purchase of computers for all classrooms" as the article specifically states "The purchase would ensure every Richmond County teacher has a dedicated computer." In fact, IMO the students SHOULD BE KEPT AWAY from these specific computers.

No_Longer_Amazed
5146
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No_Longer_Amazed 10/03/08 - 07:42 pm
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Anyone who finds fault with

Anyone who finds fault with keeping up with technology does not realize how much this will contribute to the overall process. I consider it to be $800K well spent. The biggest challenge will be to get all the teachers to use it as they are not all computer literate or proficient with iParent and/or the data director software programs.

steve-o
0
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steve-o 10/03/08 - 08:52 pm
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Well, I'm glad that they are

Well, I'm glad that they are urging teachers to use computers! It sure beats the old method of moving rocks around to teach math.

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