Evanston/Skokie School District 65 will expand a pilot program and provide iPads to all sixth graders starting this fall.
The Digital Promise project was launched in 2014 at eight U.S. middle schools, including Chute Middle School and King Arts, as part of a pilot program to “create innovative learning environments and close the digital learning gap,” according to District 65’s Digital Promise website.
The project was initially funded by Digital Promise and Verizon Wireless for two years.
After the conclusion of Digital Promise, students at Chute Middle School and King Labs participated in a pilot program this year to assess different devices (iPad and Chromebook) and get feedback from both students and teachers about the effectiveness of various tools.
A “Future Ready” video summarizes the kids’ experience in the pilot program.
The program has been renamed Access to Innovate, said Stacey Beardsley, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, in a report to the school board Monday night.
Beardsley says all sixth graders at Chute, Haven and Nichols Middle Schools as well as the King Labs and Bessie Rhodes magnet schools will get the iPads.
The iPads will be loaded with a fixed image that will provide all students with equal access to learning, according to a written report to the board. Students will be able to use the devices at school and at home.
The district estimates that 5-7 percent of students may not have access to wifi at home. Those students will be given a hotspot loaner for use at home.
Preparation for the launch of the program includes professional learning for teachers, said Bearsley. A total of four Innovation Coaches will help teachers use the technology in the classroom.
Funding for Access to Innovate has been provided by the referendum for District 65 that voters approved in 2017, Beardsley said.