Cobb Schools to get report on pilot programs for education
by Lindsay Field
December 12, 2012 07:00 AM | 5109 views | 2 2 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Bryce Maniscalco, 13, looks up a video of his class lesson using his Kindle Fire at Simpson Middle School.  (MDJ Staff/Laura Moon)
Bryce Maniscalco, 13, looks up a video of his class lesson using his Kindle Fire at Simpson Middle School. (MDJ Staff/Laura Moon)

MARIETTA — Bring Your Own Device and the flipped classroom model were both introduced at six middle schools in Cobb in September and the county district’s Chief Academic Officer Amy Krause said that number has increased due to teachers and students having good experiences with both programs.

During Thursday night’s board meeting, Krause will give three presentations. The first two will focus on how the teachers and students have responded to the implementation of BYOD and the flipped classroom, and the third will be on the Bridge Bill, which requires eighth graders to have a graduation plan in place before starting ninth grade.

In a BYOD class, students are encouraged to bring laptops, tablets or other electronic devices to class. In a flipped classroom, which the school board first discussed last spring, students watch lectures online at home and do what would typically be their homework during class time.

Krause said, “Teachers are excited, kids are excited and part of what the update includes is additional schools that have come on board.”

Since September, the number of teachers participating in BYOD has increased from 16 to 104 and for flipped classroom, from 13 to 27 in elementary, middle and high schools.

“There are teachers who aren’t officially part of the pilot but they are learning from other teachers how to implement it,” she said.

The district originally launched the programs at Lost Mountain, Pine Mountain, Floyd, Smitha, Daniell and Dodgen middle schools. Some schools are only implementing one program, many are trying out both.

“Based on the feedback and experience they’ve had so far, there is more engagement, and both teachers and students are saying this,” Krause said.

The information she will present Thursday will be solely based on engagement and involvement at the school level. “Informal” data based on testing and achievement statistics from teachers should be collected later this year.

“We would love to see the difference in those test scores,” she said.

Board Member David Banks, who has a few schools in his northwest Cobb post implementing the programs, said he supports the concept but is interested in finding out what Krause will have to say.

“(These programs) are another option that we could possibly use in the future to enhance our education process,” he said.

Banks attended a national school board association conference last spring with Cobb Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa, said that’s when he first learned about the various ways technology can be introduced in the classroom.

He said he hasn’t received any feedback from schools in his post yet about how the programs are going but will be looking into it.

Krause will also be explaining the logistics of the Bridge Bill, which was implemented for the first time the 2010-2011 school year.

According to the Georgia Department of Education, “Students in sixth, seventh and eighth grades shall be provided counseling, advisement, career awareness, career interest inventories and information to assist them in evaluating their academic skills and career interests.”

“I’m going to explain how we are supporting the Bridge Bill and what we are doing in the eighth grade to implement a graduation plan,” she said.

Before the end of the second semester of eighth grade, students will be responsible for developing an “individual graduation plan” with their parents.

Krause said the bill should also help students better prepare for the transition from middle to high school.

In other business, the board will consider approving:

* A $9.8 million Request for Proposal (RFP) with Yancey Bus Sales of Austell to purchase 97, 72-passenger conventional buses; three, 72-passenger buses with lifts; and 15, 48-passenger “exceptional child” buses with lifts.

Funding for this purchase will come from SPLOST III funds, an Environmental Protective Division and Georgia grant, State Department of Education.

The rationale behind the purchase states that it will provide replacement buses with “high operational costs” currently used.

“Transportation will be able to provide more efficient and safer bus service with newer equipment,” the agenda states. “In addition, it will assist in attaining a cycle of 15 years or less of the bus fleet.”

* To extend an award for construction time and materials to SouthCore Construction Inc. of Kennesaw and Triad Construction Company of Atlanta between Dec. 14 and Nov. 30, 2013. Funding will be provided through SPLOST III and the countywide building fund.

* To extend a Request for Proposal (RFP) for network data cabling and wireless infrastructure to NetPlanner Systems Inc. of Norcross between Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 2013. Funding will be provided by SPLOST III.

* A recommendation from Hinojosa to adopt a new board policy that should assist at-risk students in third grade.

The agenda item was requested by Board Vice Chair David Morgan at the November meeting to help address the identification, intervention, communication and retention of third grade students who do not demonstrate reading proficiency by the end of the third grade year.

“Early intervention for struggling readers is important to a student’s future success in school,” the rationale states in the agenda. “While federal, state and local programs are in place to address students struggling in both math and reading, this policy will provide specific expectations regarding third grade students.”

The meeting will begin with public comments at 7 p.m. and is heat in the Cobb County School District board office, 514 Glover St. in Marietta, in the boardroom.

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Comments-icon Post a Comment
Cobb Parent
December 12, 2012
Sounds great, but there is limited security to prevent theft of these devices. Classrooms can be locked if the teacher remembers, custodial staff has access afterhours (we've had at least two at our school let go for theft, parents don't hear about it), and then there's the lockers which can be broken into reasonably easy (instructions and video how-to instructions are on the net). What about leaving them overnight? School break-ins occur on a regular basis. Ultimately who will be responsible for the device if it's stolen? Are the parents signing waivers releasing the system from liabilty? Either way, it's going to be a field day for the various thieves out there (kid and adult alike).
@Cobb Parent
December 12, 2012
Can't tell if your for or against based on your comments.

Since auto theft is such a problem, should we have roads?
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