Ninth-graders to get tablets

Published 10:33 pm Friday, January 30, 2015

All ninth-graders at Suffolk’s three public high schools will receive free tablet computers, in the hopes of improving performance on math assessments.

According to a news release, Suffolk Public Schools has accepted a state grant for the “e-Learning Backpack Initiative” requiring the district to match 20 percent of the cost.

The grant will fund tablets at Lakeland and King’s Fork high schools, while local funds will cover tablets at Nansemond River.

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Principals are meeting with parents and students to explain the program, according to district spokeswoman Bethanne Bradshaw. Families would be responsible for replacing lost or damaged tablets, at a cost of $375 each.

Citywide, the initiative will include 1,230 Asus tablets. According to the Virginia Department of Education, the program aims to get a tablet, digital content and applications into the hands of every ninth-grader attending a public school not fully accredited.

“While much of the focus of the initiative is currently on the supplemental grants provided through the Virginia Public School Authority for eligible schools, the Virginia e-Learning Backpack Initiative is actually a broader initiative intended to assist all schools in the transition to digital content and tablet computers,” Bradshaw stated.

Statewide student performance on state standardized math tests plummeted when new assessments requiring more rigor were introduced in 2011-2012.