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DeKalb County Schools superintendent lays out plans to go digital
by Nicole Dow
December 12, 2012 09:00 AM | 6964 views | 4 4 comments | 27 27 recommendations | email to a friend | print
DeKalb County Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Atkinson holds up a netbook during the State of the System Address in which she talked about how students learn digitally as opposed to using textbooks.
DeKalb County Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Atkinson holds up a netbook during the State of the System Address in which she talked about how students learn digitally as opposed to using textbooks.
As part of a mission to advance the DeKalb County School District’s use of technology, Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson said more than 8,200 middle school students will transition from using textbooks to using Lenovo netbooks next school year.

“No longer will our students be saddled by heavy backpacks,” she said as she made the announcement during her State of the System address last week.

Students from Cedar Grove, Chamblee, Lithonia, Peachtree, Redan, Stone Mountain and Tucker middle schools will receive the digital devices loaded with information from all their textbooks in the fall. By the fall of 2014, the superintendent plans to have all middle and high school students transitioned to using netbooks.

Teachers and administrators must keep up with students’ growing use of technology, Atkinson said.

“The fact is that our children have an intellectual complexity that demands that we change our educational approach,” she added.

Atkinson said teachers will also get laptops to use as a tool to digitally access information to share with their students. She added the district plans to have 100 percent of its facilities wireless by next fall.

“Currently, only 38 percent of our district is wireless,” she said. “Thanks to funds allocated for technology by the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax — better known as SPLOST — we have scheduled an incredibly aggressive plan to get every single one of our facilities wireless by August of 2013.”

Another district initiative is to have all classrooms equipped with interactive whiteboards by the end of the next calendar year.

The technological advances are not the only initiatives the superintendent outlined in her address. This academic year, every 11th grader will take the SAT during the school day in April. Students’ SAT and ACT scores from the 2011-12 school year improved at a rate greater than that of the state and nation and the percentage of students scoring a three or higher on Advanced Placement exams increased at a rate higher than the state, she said.

Since being appointed to the district in September 2011, Atkinson’s job has not been without its share of hardships. She briefly alluded to the accreditation concerns posed by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and mentioned the district’s budget woes, which resulted in personnel layoffs. Despite the challenges, Atkinson said the district plans to stay fully accredited and is currently running within budget.

Do you think the school system should get rid of textbooks for good?

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Textbooks are best!
January 16, 2013
Our district did that a few years ago and it was horrible. The students didn't use the computers for their purpose, and that was textbooks. You became a computer babysitter. For the students who actually cared about their education, they absolutely HATED the laptops as their textbooks and refused to sign out the laptops and were issued a textbook. It was a HUGE waste of money.

When students were REQUIRED to have a laptop, students started breaking their laptops on purpose (throwing them on the floor) so they didn't have one so they didn't have to do their homework.

Our district is going back to textbooks b/c they have realized that the laptops were absolutely worthless and more of a headache in and out of the classroom than an educational tool.

Get the Cell Out ATL
December 17, 2012
Laptops and E-books to not equate to learning. Why do those in charge of the schools insist on focusing on the facade of education instead of the real thing? Perhaps there is money to be made for those who will get more "product" into the hands of consumers but that does nothing for the children.

For more, visit the website for Get the Cell Out - ATL (dot org).

Arnold Butler, Sr
December 17, 2012
Dr. Atkinson, along with a few confused school board members...just don't get it. You continue to introduce new programs at the expense of the teachers. How long do you all plan to keep overlooking the very people that you will need to to implement your so-called programs. Dr. Atkinson, you are single handedly bringing down the morale of the teachers. What goes around, comes around.
Guy Midvale
December 13, 2012
All the classrooms were supposed to have whiteboards 2 years ago and all the school wireless last year.

What happened? Where did the equipment go? Where did the money go?
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