“No longer will our students be saddled by heavy backpacks,” she said as she made the announcement during her State of the System address last week.
Students from Cedar Grove, Chamblee, Lithonia, Peachtree, Redan, Stone Mountain and Tucker middle schools will receive the digital devices loaded with information from all their textbooks in the fall. By the fall of 2014, the superintendent plans to have all middle and high school students transitioned to using netbooks.
Teachers and administrators must keep up with students’ growing use of technology, Atkinson said.
“The fact is that our children have an intellectual complexity that demands that we change our educational approach,” she added.
Atkinson said teachers will also get laptops to use as a tool to digitally access information to share with their students. She added the district plans to have 100 percent of its facilities wireless by next fall.
“Currently, only 38 percent of our district is wireless,” she said. “Thanks to funds allocated for technology by the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax — better known as SPLOST — we have scheduled an incredibly aggressive plan to get every single one of our facilities wireless by August of 2013.”
Another district initiative is to have all classrooms equipped with interactive whiteboards by the end of the next calendar year.
The technological advances are not the only initiatives the superintendent outlined in her address. This academic year, every 11th grader will take the SAT during the school day in April. Students’ SAT and ACT scores from the 2011-12 school year improved at a rate greater than that of the state and nation and the percentage of students scoring a three or higher on Advanced Placement exams increased at a rate higher than the state, she said.
Since being appointed to the district in September 2011, Atkinson’s job has not been without its share of hardships. She briefly alluded to the accreditation concerns posed by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and mentioned the district’s budget woes, which resulted in personnel layoffs. Despite the challenges, Atkinson said the district plans to stay fully accredited and is currently running within budget.