Students and parents in the Washington School District want more access to technology in the classroom at all grade levels.

That was one of the major findings of an online survey the district recently participated in, according to Superintendent Dr. Lori VanLeer.

VanLeer shared survey highlights at a school board meeting Wednesday night.

The survey also was taken by teachers and staff, and those findings will be presented at the March board meeting.

VanLeer said the survey data collected supports the district’s efforts to develop a comprehensive technology plan on how to best incorporate technology into the daily environment of students and staff.

As part of this initiative, a technology focus group has been meeting for months, researching devices, funding, implementation and professional learning. The team also has conducted site visits to other technology-heavy schools and has brought school representatives in to speak about their technology efforts.

As part of the online survey, students, parents and teachers could offer feedback in a variety of categories, including Internet access, preferred devices and the importance of instructional technology.

The full survey results can be found on the district’s website.

Key Findings

At Wednesday’s meeting, VanLeer broke down some of the findings by grade levels.

For example, students in grades three to five were asked if building a new school, what types of technology they would include. Seventy-eight percent said smartboards and interactive boards, 75 percent said digital readers and 74 percent said the ability to use the Internet anywhere.

The ability to use their own device was favored by 70 percent, as well as a tablet for every student at 69 percent.

Sixth- through eighth-graders were asked a similar question — if designing the ultimate school what technology would they include.

The top three responses were the ability to access the Internet, 81 percent; the ability to use their own device, 75 percent; and a laptop for every student, 69 percent.

At the high school level, students were asked what technology should be included in designing a school.

The ability to access the Internet again was the top choice with 84 percent, followed by the ability to use own device, 78 percent, online textbooks, 69 percent, and a laptop for every student, 65 percent.

Parents Respond

The survey also found for most parents that effective implementation of technology within instruction was either “extremely important” or “important” to student success.

Parents’ biggest concern about the use of technology at school was either “there are not enough computers for every student to use” or “students rarely have access to technology in the classroom.”

VanLeer said most parents indicated that access to online textbooks would be a primary benefit of incorporating devices into instruction.

Parents also mostly feel that a student’s ability to review material as many times as necessary and/or their ability to work at his/her own pace would be the most beneficial aspect of online courses.

VanLeer said parents mostly “strongly agree” or “agree” that teacher evaluations should include an assessment on how effectively they are using technology to enhance instruction.

The items receiving the most responses regarding “good investments to enhance student achievement” were: adaptive learning software which adjusts to levels of difficulty and content to address learning needs; online textbooks; interactive whiteboards; digital readers; and school portal website.

“I don’t think there were any ah-hah findings here, but the responses certainly show support for what we are trying to do with our technology initiative,” VanLeer told The Missourian. “We know there is not enough access to technology. In some buildings we have very little technology and in others it’s mediocre. None of the buildings are where we want them to be.”

VanLeer said approval of the district’s two-part bond issue would help move the district to where it needs to be. Question One of the proposal seeks wireless infrastructure for classrooms districtwide.

The survey results will next be reviewed by the district’s technology focus group.