ROCK HILL The Rock Hill school board voted unanimously Monday to put an iPad in the hands of almost 8,100 fourth- through eighth-graders next year.
The initiative is about more than just giving students a tablet computer, Superintendent Lynn Moody said. It will change the way students learn, creating a collaborative environment in which teachers and students learn side-by-side, she said.
Sometimes, teachers will learn from the students, Moody said, and at other times it will be students learning from other students. A measure of success, she said, will be when students push each other to the next level.
Along with the tablets come high expectations: The school board set a goal that all Rock Hill students will meet or exceed certain state and national standardized test scores for reading and math in the next three years.
Mondays vote ended a yearlong conversation about how Rock Hill schools could maximize the advantage of the digital age by giving each student an iPad 2. The conversations included students, parents, residents, teachers and other school employees.
The initiative has been endorsed by groups such as the Rock Hill NAACP and the York County Regional Chamber of Commerce.
School board members praised Moody for her ambitious vision. Chairman Jim Vining noted that the discussions were not about if the iRock initiative would evolve, but how.
There was never a doubt that we were moving forward, he said.
The school boards vote represented a compromise developed over the last few days.
At a workshop meeting last week, some board members supported giving an iPad to students in the third through eighth grades, with students in kindergarten, first and second grades sharing one tablet among three students.
Other board members favored fully implementing the plan for all grades, noting that high school students would benefit most as they are closest to graduation and will soon be competing for advanced education and jobs.
Moodys compromise was an attempt to address the concerns of people such as Michelle King, who told the school board Monday that she was concerned about the amount of screen time to which young children would be exposed. Board member Terry Hutchinson echoed her concerns.
Preliminary cost estimates for the first-year of iRock are about $3.5 million, according to district officials. That includes $1.4 million the board approved Monday night for school technology infrastructure improvements.
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