Middle class missing out on technology in schools - KSLA News 12 Shreveport, Louisiana News Weather & Sports

Middle class missing out on technology in schools

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SHREVEPORT-BOSSIER CITY, LA (KSLA) -

Technology is becoming more and more important in the classroom, but not every school can afford all the things they want, and some middle class schools feel they're being overlooked.

"Today's graduate has to be technology proficient," said Darlene Simmons, the Principal at Northwood High School.

Many of the schools in Caddo Parish with the most technology are from the poorest parts of the district because of Title 1 money from the federal government.

"Many of these children come from homes that don't have an opportunity to get technology,"said Janis Parker, the Caddo Parish Schools Director of Title 1.

This school year, Caddo Parish got $22-million through the Title 1 program, and about 2/3 Caddo schools benefited from it. Parker says the district divides the funds depending on the percentage of students at each school on free and reduced lunch. This year, schools with 67.7% of students on free and reduced lunch got some of that money. Title 1 aims to give students in low income areas an equal chance at a quality education. Many used a portion of it for technology.

At Donnie Bickham Middle School, every student spends time working with iPads, laptops, and desktops. You name it, they've probably been exposed to it.

"It's a fun way to learn our division and multiplication," said DBMS student Katie Graham.

The school paid for most of its technology with Title 1 money over the last few years.

"In a year where you receive Title 1 money, it's like Christmas," said DBMS Principal Shannon Wells.

This year they won't be able to buy nearly as much technology because they didn't qualify for any of the federal funds.

"There's a huge difference because you basically make just enough money to maintain what you have," said Wells.

Just down the street, Northwood High School hasn't gotten any Title 1 funds in recent memory. Because they don't have the funding for technology, the same students that use iPads on a weekly basis at Donnie Bickham Middle School barely ever get into a normal computer lab in high school.

The principal at Northwood High School says her school is stuck in the middle because it's not poor enough to get federal funds, but not rich enough for parents to just write a large check for technology.

With the state End of Course testing now online, she worries it will affect her students grades and the schools overall ranking. She compares it to taking your drivers test after only driving a simulator, and never getting behind the wheel of a real car until the day of the test.

"If the text is not right there in front of them, and they haven't practiced that way, then their performance on the assessment isn't the same."

It's not just a problem in Caddo Parish. The principal at Sun City Elementary in Bossier Parish says her school is the same boat after voters there did not approve a bond for technology.

Schools lacking in technology said they felt it could hurt their test scores. KSLA News 12 took a look at the state grades for the schools in Caddo and Bossier that do receive Title 1 funding versus the schools that do not. On average, the non-Title 1 schools still performed better.

To see which schools get Title 1 funds and their scores in Bossier Parish, click here.

To see which schools get Title 1 funds and their scores in Caddo Parish, click here.

Regardless of how much money your school gets to spend on technology, Wells has a suggestion to make it count. He says pick one subject that every student has to take, and get a class set instead of trying to get 1 iPad or 1 computer for each classroom.

"We know every kid that attends this school goes through a science class, so every kid will be exposed to that technology," said Wells.

He hopes his experience can help other schools because with limited funds and ever evolving technology, it's a problem that won't go away any time soon.

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