By Anne Marie Amacher
DAVENPORT — After seeing improvements in academic performance due to a pilot program using language arts and math software, All Saints Catholic School educators decided to broaden the benefits.
The school purchased more computers and software for all students in kindergarten through second grade.
“First and second-grade teachers have additional tools and resources for their students,” said Teresa Williams, K-4 academic support and Title I coordinator. “It has made a huge difference in our academic performance.”
Second-grade teacher Jill Hixson said students need to meet certain levels in their academic performance. By using Essential Skills software, students can work at their level of need. Everything they do is logged into the computer. Hixson can print out their scores, check work in progress, view what programs they’ve used, and more. The software covers language arts (vocabulary, reading comprehension, sight words and phonics) and math.
Since students in grades kindergarten through second do not take the annual Iowa Test of Basic Skills to assess their academic performance in comparison to peers, teachers use this software as a diagnostic tool. “It tracks everything,” Williams said.
Students may choose from a variety of programs and can work at their own pace. They don’t bother to look at what their peers are doing because they are enthralled in their own computer work, Hixson said.
Amy Kersten, technology director at All Saints, applied for grants to help offset the cost for additional computers and software.
With a $13,450 grant from Scott County Regional Authority, the school purchased 10 laptop computers, several Essential Skills software programs, headphones and corded mice. Other funding sources paid for additional programs.
Kersten has been adding more desktop computers to classrooms as she gets money from the budget or other sources. The school now has a supply of laptop computers that rotate among the classrooms in grades kindergarten through eight.
Because of the additional computers and software, “The students are more independent learners,” Williams said. Hixson said she is excited to see the “phenomenal growth in comprehension of the students.”
“This is money well spent,” Williams added. “We are just blown away by the reports we are seeing on improved comprehension and understanding.”