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Below the overview of the district are links to KBIA's coverage of Columbia 93 district schools, updated as more stories are published. Columbia 93 at a glanceThe Columbia 93 school district currently includes 32 different schools. In 2014, the district had a k-12 enrollment of 17,204 students, which is 2% of the total k-12 enrollment for the state. Enrollment has been slightly increasing in recent years, 2% since 2011. While a small percent, that amounts to almost 400 more students. There have also been major re-drawing of attendance areas with the addition of Battle High School. Middle school attendance areas shape high school boundaries 00000178-cc7d-da8b-a77d-ec7d2f9e0000The changes have affected all schools in the district, including causing high school attendance to increase and overcrowding at one middle school at least.

Exam: Columbia schools use technology to create more personal learning

ipad, student
Brad Flickinger

  By the year 2021, every student in the Columbia Public Schools (CPS) district from fifth grade on will have a personal electronic device.

“This year we started one to one in all of our fifth grade classes with iPad minis. So, our fifth grade kids and students are learning to kind of digitize their curriculum and next year they will be sixth graders, and so we’ll give another group of fifth graders iPads and it’ll continue on their way up,” CPS Coordinator of Instructional Technology Julie Nichols said.

The fifth graders will keep their iPad minis until eighth grade, when the school district will issue the students new devices to use in high school.

School officials said they hope this technology will help students get more excited about learning.

“The one to one initiative has really allowed students to take control of their learning and they’re more of an active participant,” Nichols said.

However, Keith Krueger, the CEO of COSN, a national nonprofit for school district technology officers, said technology should not be the main focus in the classroom.

“The fundamental focus for educators and the public needs to be not on the device, but rather what does the learning look like?” Krueger said.

Krueger said too much of the discussion about technology in schools focuses on the technology itself, instead of what it can do to enhance student learning.

"I think the unfortunate part of the conversation is that it's about the device, not about what we're really aiming to do with the learning, what really prepares kids for tomorrow, what really enables them to be college career and life ready,” Krueger said.

Nichols agrees and said CPS tries to focus more on how to help students learn better.

“We love technology and we love our gadgets and the different tools,” Nichols said. “But it’s really about having a strong curriculum and using it to figure out what kids need to help them perform better.”

Technology is an important part of updating curriculum because teachers can create personalized learning experiences for their students.

"We've been kind of in an industrialized mode where a good teacher has always tried to individualize as much as possible, but the reality was with 25 or 30 kids in a classroom, he or she had to teach to the average," Krueger said. 

CPS teachers hope to use this personalized instruction can really help students get the most out of learning.

"I mean just, simple little things, you know, taking a quiz and then having, if you had iPads, to quickly do a poll to see who got it and who didn't get it. So then the teacher can, within the last 15 minutes of the class even, separate and have the kids who didn't get it do a quick little mini lesson and re-teach and the kids who did get it let them move on to enrichment."

Even with the introduction of the iPads, Nichols said the school district will not abandon older technology.

"We still have laptop carts and desktops at schools because our philosophy is that you use the best tool to achieve your task."

Currently, Battle High School is the only school in the district that provides iPads for all its students. Rock Bridge and Hickman high schools offer iPads for students in AP classes.

Hope Kirwan left KBIA in September 2015.
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