EUSD believes iPads align with Common Core

Student access to iPads is going hand in hand with the EUSD (Encinitas Union School District) transition to the new Common Core standards — that was one conclusion from a presentation at the Aug. 19 district Board of Trustees meeting.

Leighangela Brady, EUSD assistant superintendent of business services, updated the board on the various ways the district is implementing Common Core. A portion of her presentation was dedicated to how iPads align with the new education standards, which have been adopted by 40 states.

For one, Brady said the district’s iPads promote individualized learning, one of the tenets of Common Core.

“It’s about leveraging technology,” she said.

District officials have previously stated that students using iPads get instant feedback that’s tailored specifically to each individual. So students have a strong grasp of areas that need improvement.

Also, rather than memorizing lectures, they can demonstrate understanding by putting together presentations, movies and other media.

The district rolled out its iPad program in 2012 among upper grade levels. Now, nearly every K-6 student in the district has an iPad.

EUSD paid $2.7 million for the 5,400 devices. Funding comes from Proposition P, the district’s voter-approved bond.

In a survey administered by EUSD earlier this year, 93 percent of 742 parents who responded rated EUSD’s iPad program as good to excellent, Brady noted.

“They talked about how responsible the students were, even at the kindergarten level,” Brady said. “Parents commented that students are more motivated, they’re more engaged, and they’re feeling that students are more creative as a result of using the iPads.”

She said the iPads are also conducive to Common Core’s focus on digital classrooms and producing tech-savvy students.

Because the iPads are new, EUSD plans more teacher-training sessions on managing classrooms with the devices and other technology, especially since the district has quite a few new teachers this year, Brady said.

The district also previously bumped up from part-time to full-time a teacher who oversees the iPads and other technology.

On the teaching front, the iPads allow instructors to access and download cloud-based training and documents. Brady likened it to “a Netflix of teaching resources.”

Trustee Gregg Sonken, echoing others on the board, said he was pleased with the district’s progress in carrying out Common Core.

Since it was an informational item, no action was taken. And the agenda item didn’t draw any public speakers.

Last fall, the University of San Diego’s Mobile Technology Learning Center released a study gauging the effectiveness of EUSD’s iPad program.

To measure this, the center conducted four in-depth case studies in district classrooms over the span of several months.

It found that the iPads advanced writing skills, in particular. More generally, the devices encouraged creative thinking, communication and problem solving, according to the findings.

But the study also stated that the district should dedicate more resources to better train teachers in leading classrooms with iPads. That’s because teachers often weren’t sure how to incorporate the iPads into math instruction.

Brady also informed the board about moving to new math standards for Common Core. Some parents have voiced concerns with the transition.

Look for an article on the topic in next week’s edition of the Encinitas Advocate.