Survey: TPS behind in technology resources
BY ANDREA EGER World Staff Writer
Thursday, January 17, 2013
3/05/13 at 2:25 PM
A new survey shows that teachers and principals overwhelmingly criticize Tulsa Public Schools' current technology resources as "less than acceptable," despite their belief in its importance for affecting student achievement.
About 1,360 employees, 80 percent of whom were teachers, participated in a districtwide survey that is now being used by a citizens-led committee to craft Tulsa Public Schools' first bond issue in three years. A ballot issue is expected to be ready for school board consideration by early February.
On a 5-point scale, with 3 considered "acceptable," the average employee rating of the effectiveness of current technology was 2.8, and the age of software used on classroom technology was rated 2.67.
Conversely, the average rating for technology's importance in the classroom was 4.38, or "very important," for affecting student achievement.
Kay Holland, who teaches seventh-grade geography at Clinton Middle School, said technology is crucial for engaging modern students and that the Tulsa district is trailing its neighboring school districts in the instructional tools available to teachers.
"We're at a disadvantage because our students don't have the opportunity to use technology every day like other districts," Holland said. "We study the world with technology. Otherwise, it would be an old book, looking at the pictures. It really brings it home and helps to level the playing field between students who have access to it at home and those that don't."
Holland uses an interactive white board in her classroom to bring to life lessons such as the tsunamis and monsoons that were recently part of a study unit about Asia. But she said she could really use tablet computers with digital textbooks that could be updated regularly - at a fraction of the cost of printed textbooks.
And she is not alone.
According to the survey, the most requested technology needs for a standard classroom include Internet access for all computers, an iPad for the teacher, a laptop for each student desk and electronic textbooks.
The most commonly-requested minimum number of computers for classrooms for prekindergarten through second grade was three to five, while "one for every student" was the most common selection for grades three through 12.
Superintendent Keith Ballard said he would not have considered pursuing a bond issue if the disparity between Tulsa and suburban school districts in the area weren't so great.
"TPS is falling behind in technology, and our students are going to pay a heavy price if we don't do something to catch up," he said. "With the right tools, I believe our teachers can leverage classroom technology to improve student performance and improve achievement substantially.
"I'm very pleased 1,360 people responded (to the survey) because we need to know what teachers and principals think. This isn't just about giving students greater access to technology; it's also about giving our teachers the tools they need to teach."
A U.S. Department of Education-funded study of "technology-rich" schools found that the use of technology resulted in educational gains for all students regardless of age, race, parental income or other characteristics.
Sheila Riley, principal at Eugene Field Elementary School, said: "We live in a world where technology is prevalent in most people's lives. By implementing that into focus for our schools, we are better preparing our students for the real world."
But Ballard said it is important for Tulsa voters to understand that this technology-focused bond issue is just one of the many areas of need identified through the school district's ongoing reform efforts.
"Technology alone is not enough," he said. "We also need to couple these tools with the appropriate level of teacher training, technical support and a budget sufficient to cover consumable items related to technology."
...54.7 percent said broken or missing pieces
- The importance of technology training received an average rating of 4.5 on a 5-point scale, with more than 60 percent classifying training as "very important."
- Thirty-five percent of respondents rated the district's current technology training as "ineffective," with an average rating of 2.87 on a 5-point scale.
- Participants were less than satisfied with the availability of consumable items related to classroom technology, with nearly 60 percent saying materials are scarce (an average rating of 2.4 on a 5-point scale). Consumable items include bulbs for interactive white boards, printer toner and other items that must be replaced periodically.
- Sixty-four percent said that due to budget constraints, they often pay out of their own pockets for consumables related to classroom technology.
- 27.8 percent said they have technology that is not being utilized. When asked why, ...
...24 percent said lack of training
... 23.7 percent said shortage of supplies.
Original Print Headline: Survey: TPS shy on tech resources
- Wi-fi access is important, with 84 percent rating it in the top two.
Andrea Eger 918-581-8470
Superintendent Keith Ballard: "TPS is falling behind in technology, and our students are to pay a heavy price if we don't do something to catch up," he said. "With the right tools, I believe our teachers can leverage classroom technology to improve student performance and improve achievement substantially."