SALISBURY TOWNSHIP SCHOOL DISTRICT
Assistant Superintendent Dr. Randy Ziegenfuss shared Teaching and Learning 2014 survey results with the school board members at the curriculum and technology meeting Feb. 6 at Salisbury Middle School.
Three surveys on TL2014 have been given: December 2011, May 2012 and December 2012.
Overall 64 parents, 782 students in grades six through 12 and 68 teachers responded to the most recent survey. It addressed course grades for 2012-2013 compared to 2011-2012, reasons for changes in grades, communication of laptop expectations, benefits and challenges to having access to a laptop computer, memorable learning experiences and repair data.
Ziegenfuss said at the high school level, 24 percent of parents perceived their students' grades were higher this year than last, followed by 32 percent of students and 14 percent of teachers. At the middle school level, 42 percent of parents perceived their students' grades were higher this year than last, followed by 46 percent of students and 20 percent of teachers. At the high school level, 29 percent of parents felt their students' grades were lower this year, followed by 27 percent of students and 22 percent of teachers. At the middle school level, 16 percent of parents felt their students' grades were lower this year than last, followed by 12 percent of students and 20 percent of teachers.
Data indicates the percentage of respondents in all groups choosing higher has increased and the percentage of respondents in all groups choosing lower has decreased according to Ziegenfuss.
Further data for the changes in grades (either higher or lower) were attributed to access to a laptop computer, working harder, supportive teachers, classes, schools, schedules and support at home.
Thirty five percent of middle school students said their parents/guardians never reinforce the laptop expectations. Sixty two percent of high school students said the same about their parents/guardians. However, 58 percent of middle school parents said they reinforce the expectations daily along with 27 percent of the high school parents. Ziegenfus said these results show a disconnect between student and parent perceptions of how and when laptop expectations are communicated at home.
The benefits of the computers were shared by parents, students and teachers noting the portability of learning, sharing with other students and access to up-to-date media.
A common theme of challenges amongst the adults suggests the laptop computer creates distractions. Although this percentage has decreased since the earlier surveys, some teachers and parents still feel the laptops create distractions students and teachers find challenging.
Students felt there were frequently delays in accessing the network and were concerned about restricted Internet sites.
Some teachers at both the high school and middle school felt the time learning new technology gets in the way of learning course content.
Ziegenfuss said non-warranty repairs continue to be minimal at both the middle and high schools and the top two categories of non-warranty repairs continue to be cracked screens and cracked top cases.
Respondents were asked to provide additional comments which were both in favor and against the laptop computers.
Survey results can be found at TL2014.com.
"We will continue to collect and post data," Ziegenfuss said.
Ziegenfuss said 94 percent of students have Internet access at home.
"We have an obligation to address distraction and time needed to learn," school board member John Moyer said. "How are we addressing this?"
Salisbury Middle School Principal Bob Cassidy said they are blocking sites students can access and the laptop lids must be down while the teacher is talking. He said he feels it is working better now that it is much more controlled. "Laptops come out for specific lessons," Cassidy said.
SMS Assistant Principal Ken Parliman said he had many conversations with parents through meetings and telephone calls suggesting ways to structure the laptop use after the school day.
Moyer suggested more formal time management skills are important.
Both Superintendent Michael Roth and Harry S Truman Elementary School Principal Barbara Samide said fifth grade students are looking at laptops as a tool just as they would a pen.
Salisbury High School Assistant Principal Bill Dovico said it is amazing how the kindergarten and first grade students are using technology which should help with the learning curve. He said teacher Jen Brinson works with new students to the district with computer help.
At SMS, 40 new students attended a workshop on computer use and programs, which is done routinely with new students.
All administrators said resources are available to students if needed.
Board President Russell Giordano asked if there is a decrease in disciplinary referrals from the classroom if the students are more engaged in learning with the laptops. Both Parliman and Dovico said there has definitely been a decrease.