Thursday, December 06, 2007

Study boosts Pa. plan to give all high-schoolers a laptop, but rural schools question long-term cost

A program to give a laptop computer to every high-school student in Pennsylvania "is making students more engaged in class but favors richer schools," educators and advocates for rural and small schools told state legislators this week, reports Christina Gostomski of the Harrisburg Bureau of The Morning Call in Allentown.

"Officials from the Pennsylvania School Boards Association and the Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools said the program, which does not have a dedicated source of funding, threatens to saddle school districts with large laptop maintenance bills and favors richer school districts that can afford those costs," Gostomski writes.

Gov. Ed Rendell wants every high school to have the program by 2009, "but the program has been contentious and might face a fight for survival in the annual budget battle," The Morning Call reports. The program cost $20 million last school year and $90 million this year. It currently serves 356,000 students.

A study by researchers at Penn State "reported that teachers spent less time on lectures and more time working with students in small groups," Gostomski writes. "The study was based on classroom observations and student and teacher interviews. It did not address any changes in student achievement, but a second study is expected to look at student learning." (Read more)

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