A struggling urban school is making progress with high tech help. But technology isn’t the only reason why students at Pleasant View Elementary School are outperforming their peers in Providence RI.
Three years ago, the school was identified as one of the lowest-performing elementary schools in the state. Today, student performance is on the upswing.
Third-grade math scores have improved by 21 percentage points over three years, the biggest improvement in the district and the second largest in the state. Today, 49 percent of third graders, the overwhelming majority of whom are poor, are proficient in math.
In reading, third graders are up 6 percentage points and 61 percent have reached proficiency.
“I believe that Pleasant View would be making progress whether they had this new technology or not,” said state Education Commissioner Deborah A. Gist. “You have a team of amazing teachers who have come together with an exceptional leader and they are working with families. Just putting technology in a school doesn’t result in student learning.”
Pleasant View’s rise is due in no small part to principal Gara B. Field, who secured $470,000 in federal and private grants to purchase an electronic whiteboard for every classroom. In the lower grades, each classroom now has four iPads; in the upper grades, each classroom has 13.
Field says the jump in test scores is a byproduct of the work going on in the classroom. Students, she said, are engaged, teachers are motivated and instruction is tailored to the needs of each child.
“Technology is important,” Field said, “but it’s the teachers who are setting high expectations, meeting kids where they are and pushing them to go beyond what they know and should be able to do.”
At Pleasant View, at 50 Obadiah Brown Rd. in the Manton section of Providence, you no longer see one teacher lecturing 26 students. In every classroom, students are working in small groups. One group, for example, performs math assignments on laptops and a couple of students are working out problems on an electronic interactive whiteboard, which uses touchscreen technology and can connect to a projector or computer. Another group is sitting with a teacher.
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