Impact on Learning
Fresno School District
PROJECT: Fresno School District
LOCATION: Fresno, Calif.
COMPANY NAME: PEPPM
The Fresno Unified School District is the fourth-largest school district in California, serving more than 73,000 students. The district’s IT team had been searching for over two years for a device to replace their existing notebooks. The device would need to be highly versatile and able to handle the task of preparing their schools for the future. It was November of 2013, and adding to the challenge was the need to be ready for Common Core testing in early March the following year. Even if they could arrive at the right technology platform, they were still faced with unique problems that only schools have — the lengthy approval and funding process, the procurement, configuration, securing and delivery of literally thousands of tablets without additional resources, and the task of training several thousand unionized teachers. Failure to do this would result in reduced funding.
The Fresno Unified School District needed to replace the aging notebooks that were being used by the students. And they needed to do it quickly in order to be ready for Common Core testing because low scores would result in less funding for the district. The district turned to NWN, their technology advisor, who worked with cooperative purchasing agency, PEPPM, to arrange for the purchasing, delivery and necessary training in a timely manner.
The district turned to NWN with whom they had a long-standing relationship as a trusted technology performance advisor. NWM arranged for demo of the ASUS Transformer Book T100. It was apparent almost immediately that the device and price point were perfect for Fresno’s testing, as well as its long term educational needs.
NWN then turned its attention to helping Fresno find a fast, effective contract vehicle, ultimately using PEPPM’s (Pennsylvania Educational Purchasing Program for Microcomputers, a cooperative purchasing program for schools, universities, and other public agencies) competitively bid contract to supply and deliver the more than 15,000 T100 tablets. The tablets were drop-shipped to the NWN configuration center where they were set up, imaged, asset tagged, loaded with asset tracking software, and packaged for delivery to specified classrooms across 110 locations.
Once the tablets were in place, trainers were brought in to certify several thousand teachers. NWN also went as far as to temporarily “redistribute” the tablets to testing areas across the school network just in time for the Common Core tests.
As a result of the innovative and fast paced strategy that NWN proposed and executed, Fresno was able to deploy the right devices, with the right software, delivered in a way that students could open them up and start learning immediately. The project not only met the deadlines imposed by Common Core, but has also provided a baseline experience that can be used to propel Fresno to its ultimate goal of a one-to-one tablet-student relationship.
IMPACT ON LEARNING
As a result of the onsite hands-on training during the ASUS roll-out, Fresno’s teachers were ready and able to deliver the ultimate classroom experience that one school official described as “making education incredible.” The official went on to say, “Classrooms of the future, that are aligned with Common Core and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) standards, have students who are prepared with the latest technology and teachers who create engaging, tailored material. With our array of devices, unparalleled reliability and comprehensive support, we can make that kind of incredible classroom a reality.
A September 2014 report by Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education entitled, “Using Technology to Support At-Risk Students’ Learning,” finds that “technology — when implemented properly — can produce significant gains in student achievement and boost engagement, particularly among students most at risk.” The report also recommends one-to-one computer access for students for more effective learning — which is needed in order to successfully navigate the mandated testing that currently exists. Considering the complexity of the situation and the timeline faced by the Fresno district, their decision to take advantage of PEPPM’s services was certainly the best option available to them.
This article originally appeared in the March 2015 issue of School Planning & Management.