published Saturday, September 14th, 2013

Some Hamilton County schools tapped to pilot iPad use

Staff Photo Illustration of iPad and books by Doug Strickland
Staff Photo Illustration of iPad and books by Doug Strickland
Photo by Doug Strickland.

Several Hamilton County schools will pilot iPads or other tablets this year as the district inches forward on its one-to-one technology initiative.

For several months, information technology staff have worked on upgrading wireless and broadband capability at school buildings across the county. And now several private groups are jumping in to start getting devices into schools.

The Benwood Foundation and the Public Education Foundation will pilot devices at six schools: Red Bank Elementary, Red Bank Middle, Red Bank High School, Calvin Donaldson Elementary, East Lake Academy and the Howard School.

Officials hope such pilot programs will help the school system as it continues to roll out more devices.

"As the district begins to adopt one-to-one technology throughout its schools, we hope that this pilot will serve as a model for the use of technology -- not just as the latest gadget -- but as a tool to enhance student learning and achievement," said Lori Quillen, the Benwood Foundation's community program director.

The Downtown Rotary Club is sponsoring a pilot of iPads at the district's five iZone schools, which are mostly black and poor schools grouped together under a school turnaround model because of chronic low performance. The school system won't give an iPad to every student right away, but will have test and control groups of classroom to track effect on test scores.

"We're going to know as we get closer to the end of the year what the impact looks like," Superintendent Rick Smith said at a Friday meeting of the school board's technology committee.

The school system is closely watching other districts that have rolled out large-scale technology efforts. Some have rushed in and not seen great results, Smith said.

"We want to move slow," he said.

And moving slowly will help ensure that devices aren't just parachuted into schools, but that teachers and administrators are given the proper support for using them in teaching.

"The idea is instead of dropping these devices in, you put them in strategically," said school board member Jonathan Welch. "You see how it's working and take those lessons you learned to use in other schools."

Contact staff writer Kevin Hardy at or 423-757-6249.

about Kevin Hardy...

Kevin rejoined the Times Free Press in August 2011 as the Southeast Tennessee K-12 education reporter. He worked as an intern in 2009, covering the communities of Signal Mountain, Red Bank, Collegedale and Lookout Mountain, Tenn. A native Kansan, Kevin graduated with bachelor's degrees in journalism and sociology from the University of Kansas. After graduating, he worked as an education reporter in Hutchinson, Kan., for a year before coming back to Chattanooga. Honors include a ...

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