St. Mary Parish public schools are 41 computers away from achieving a ratio of one computer for every three of the district’s 6,280 test-taking students.
The parish exceeded the state’s minimum requirement of seven students to one computer for administration of the state’s online assessments in 2015.
The Louisiana Technology Footprint also indicated that all but four of St. Mary Parish’s 23 testing schools meet a 3:1 ratio. St. Mary Chief Technology Officer Kevin Derise said the district is 41 computers shy of meeting an overall 3:1 ratio.
The report, issued every six months, documents the district’s technology readiness for the project and provides technology targets to meet readiness goals for devices, network infrastructure and internet bandwidth.
The St. Mary Parish School Board released $400,000 in technology reserve funds, allowing the district to purchase enough computers to move from a 7:1 ratio in August to nearly a 3:1 ratio in six months, Derise said.
“The four schools we will focus on for the next (report) are Berwick Junior, Berwick High, Patterson Junior and B. Edward Boudreaux Middle. This will bring the entire district to the 3:1 ratio,” Derise said via email.
The report counts all devices able to be utilized for testing in a group setting. Thus, tablets, classroom computers and teacher computers are not included in the total, Derise said.
The technology report indicates St. Mary has 9,341 students, of whom 6,280 are in standardized test-taking grades. There are 2,359 desktop computers and 163 laptops that meet the minimum requirements and are available for testing. In addition, both the internet bandwidth and the network readiness exceed requirements.
The footprint report shows that St. Mary Parish is one of 47 districts meeting the 5:1 student-to-learning device ratio recommended technology standards.
Regionally, St. Mary Parish is one of the better prepared districts for 2015 testing. St. Martin and Lafourche parishes have not met the 7:1 threshold yet. Terrebonne Parish has met the 5:1 ratio, while Assumption Parish has met the 7:1 threshold. All of the region’s internet bandwidth and network readiness exceed minimum requirements with the exception of Lafourche’s bandwidth.
State Superintendent John White called technology a civil right in schools in the 21st century when releasing the report a week ago.
“The next generation is going to have to be fluent in the use of technology more so than their parents and grandparents. Therefore it is a basic civil right,” White said.
St. Mary Superintendent Donald Aguillard said, as part of its preparations for the increased technology demands of the online assessments, the School Board installed a new Wide-Area Network and increased its internet bandwidth during the summer of 2013. The improvement made St. Mary Parish one of 58 districts meeting the 2014-15 targets. By leveraging E-rate funding, the district was able to provide the increased internet bandwidth at a reduced cost.
Aguillard said support for these new devices is a major concern for the district.
Recent computer additions already are straining the limited HelpDesk technicians who provide hardware support, Aguillard said.
“More dramatic is the increased need for instructional technology assistance for classroom teachers at each school site. Teachers will need support and training in order to provide students with technology-rich classroom tasks and assessments, as well as troubleshooting hardware, software, and network issues,” he said.