CNMI HIGH SCHOOLS SEEK LAPTOPS FOR STUDENTS

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‘Stimulus fund’ eyed to purchase 2,203 laptops

By Moneth Deposa

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, July 9, 2009) - The Public School System wants all high school students to have individual access to their own laptops to help ensure that they meet the academic achievement goals of the system.

Dubbed as the PSS’ One Laptop Per Child project, nearly US$1 million is being eyed to procure a total of 3,203 laptop computers for students in five public high schools on Saipan, Rota, and Tinian.

According to a PSS proposal submitted to the U.S. Department of Education, all 1,200 students of Marianas High School will be provided personal laptops along with 800 students in Kagman High School, 805 in Saipan Southern High School, 225 on Tinian, and 173 at Rota High School.

PSS intends to use a portion of the stimulus money for the project, which is expected to cost US$944,885.

"The OLPC project’s goal is to place a laptop in the hands of every secondary school student. Another important goal of the program is to acquire versatile laptop computers built from industrial grade components offering the highest quality and reliability that are smaller, lower cost, more energy efficient and quieter than many laptop computers used today," PSS told the U.S. Department of Education.

PSS said the need for students to have reliable access to computers and technology is in high demand and duly noted and provided for under the No Child Left Behind Act.

It said one of the primary challenges is the affordability of components.

"Today’s laptops are virtually a disposable technology, with new and innovative communication devices handing all aspects of data, planning, scheduling and the ability to produce multimedia presentations, projects, and proposals. A laptop for each child will help ensure that this goal, along with many of the academic achievement goals for PSS, are met across the system," PSS stated in justifying the project proposal.

PSS had set a goal of having more than 70 percent of its students to be reading at their age level by 2014 and greater than 80 percent of PSS students to be reading at their grade levels by the same year.

Through the laptop project, PSS said students will exhibit an 80-percent increase in vocabulary through the use of software technology and a marked 3- to 5-point increase in their GPA as the success they achieve in the program will transfer to all academic areas.

"Students involved in the program will have a marked increase in the overall SAT-10 scores as indicated in the SSHS projection," PSS added.

PSS said students in the program will perform various test functions and tasks on the laptop and will use the technology at their desks, homes, and campus areas.

To monitor the program’s success, the student’s progress will be evaluated with the logging of software program summaries.

A rubric of students computer skills will be evaluated by instructors and a schedule of training for laptop use and care will be written and disseminated to the students, instructors, and parents.

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