A $34,000 check Decatur City Schools received Tuesday will buy iPads and Chromebooks the district will use to help implement the Alabama Literacy Act, which passed in the spring and requires third graders to read at grade level beginning with the 2021-22 school year.
Rep. Terri Collins, R-Decatur, who sponsored the literacy law, said she secured the money at the request of the school system from the community service grant line item.
“We know how important reading is, and these computers will be used to help students do that,” she said after presenting the check to the school board on Tuesday.
Superintendent Michael Douglas said he’s not sure what programs will be used on the computers to help students, but added that the new law is presenting a challenge for DCS and school systems across the state.
He said Decatur is already training some of its teachers, and the administrative team in the Central Office is working with kindergarten and first-grade teachers because they are dealing with the first students who will be affected by the new law.
Collins said the law is designed to raise academic achievement statewide by ensuring that students get a solid foundation in reading. This year’s first graders are the first students who will be held back if they are not reading at grade level at the end of the third grade.
Douglas said the state superintendent has to determine what grade level is “and we’re waiting on this.”
DCS has invested almost $15 million in technology over the past decade, and computers have changed how teachers deliver education and how students learn, school officials said.
The school system completed its one-to-one initiative in 2018 by providing Chromebooks for every high school student. One to one means every student in grades 4-12 has a school-issued computer they can use for education purposes in school and at home.
DCS used one-time money from the state to invest an additional $968,573 in technology this year, which meant putting a new touchscreen Chromebook in the hands of every middle school student.
Middle school students had netbooks last year, while elementary and high school students had Chromebooks.
Computers for K-3 students are available when they are in school and the new IPads and Chromebooks will be available for reading purposes, Douglas said.