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MacBooks benefit students in Mooresville, N.C.


Schools are adopting technology in the classroom, handing out Macs and iPads to students as young as kindergarten. Its not the devices, but their usage in the classroom that's important says a recent New York Times article.

The report chronicles the success of the Mooresville, N.C. school system. Three years ago, five Mooresville schools issued laptops to over 4,000 students in grades 4 and above. Since that time, the district's graduation rate rose 11 percent from a low of 80 percent in 2008 to its current level of 91 percent. Proficiency standards in math, science and reading also rose from 73 percent to 88 percent in those three years.

The school credits the teachers who abandoned their written lecture notes in favor of a computer-driven curriculum. "This is not about the technology," says Mark Edwards, superintendent of Mooresville Graded School District, "It's not about the box. It's about changing the culture of instruction - preparing students for their future, not our past."

This success has not come without a cost both in money and personnel, though. The school district leases MacBook Air notebooks with a warranty from Apple for US$215 per year. Hardware costs the district $1 million each year and software costs another $100,000. Parents also pay $50 each year to finance repairs.

To make ends meet, the district had to cut sixty-five jobs, including 37 teachers. Most of the teachers let go were reluctant to embrace this new way of learning says Edwards. They also did away with costly computer labs. Overall, the school spends a mere $7,415.89 a year per student, which makes them number 100 out of 115 school districts.

Mooresville now serves as a model for the next-generation classroom. The school has been singled-out by the US Department of Education as a success. It even offers monthly tours so other school districts can see their program in action. Their current tour schedule is booked all the way through April.

[Via Fortune's Apple 2.0]

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