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District 186 Spends $341,000 On Internet Upgrades

Updated: Wednesday, July 16 2014, 04:26 PM CDT
SPRINGFIELD -- A new state exam based on the Common Core will be given for the first time this year, and District 186 is planning to spend thousands of dollars to make sure students and schools are prepared on testing day.

Say so long to the paper and pencil tests in school.

"As time has gone by over the last few years, I did see that this was coming," said Anne Morris, coordinator of Teaching and Learning.

For the first time, students at District 186 in grades 3 through 8, as well as sophomores in high school, will be taking the new PARCC test using wireless internet.

"They will essentially be writing an essay using an ipad or laptop," Morris said.

The PARCC test is a new state exam based on the common core standards.

Next spring, it will be downloaded through the schools servers, questions will then be answered on an ipad ,and then sent back to the state through secure servers.

"We receive the results of their test back almost instantly," Morris said.

But speed comes at cost of $341,000 to upgrade internet at all 32 District 186 schools.

"It is dated," said manager of data and information systems for District 186, Brent Qualls. "It does need to be upgraded, but this infrastructure is going to allow us to expand upon that and move forward from here."

But Morris says spending now will save in the long run.

"There is an available paper and pencil version of PARCC, but the district would have to assume an additional cost if we were to do that," Morris said.

That additional money for a piece of paper may not be worth it since a test version of PARCC given last year proved successful.

"From what we have seen, students are definitely more engaged when they are using technology in the classrooms and I think that's ultimately when the students are engaged they are learning more," Qualls said.

A real-world example of why this is needed occurred earlier this year when the practice version of PARCC was given. Some students experienced slow internet and were dropped from the server.

The $341,000 to make the upgrades was approved at a board meeting last week. The money has been set aside in the budget and is being financed by Cisco Systems for five years at zero percent interest.

Work is expected to begin this Fall.District 186 Spends $341,000 On Internet Upgrades


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