Dekalb County Schools Homework Policy

DeKalb County School District is spending more than $27 million on new laptops that middle and high school students and teachers can take home.

The district says it is providing 80,285 “chromebook” laptops to schools through its two-year Digital Dreamers project, designed to ensure every child has equal access to modern education.

Students will get 74,085 chromebooks, and teachers, 6,200 at a cost of $27,194,450.

The laptops will allow students without a computer or internet access at home to keep up with their studies and homework, which are becoming predominantly computer-based. Superintendent Dr. R. Stephen Green said that about 25 percent of students in urban school districts do not presently have access anytime, anyplace, anywhere.

“Knowing this, our district is taking proactive measures to close that gap,” he said. “Even within the confines of their homes, our students will have access to the world.”

Research shows that 5 million U.S. families with school-aged children do not have internet access at home, yet 70 percent of teachers assign homework that requires web access, creating a homework gap that puts some students at an academic disadvantage.

While the laptops will remain the school district’s, students and teachers can take them home for off-campus learning, research and assignments.

In addition, Sprint is donating 25,000 free wireless internet hotspots, for use by eligible students who get take-home laptops. The hotspot donation is part of Sprint’s nationwide “1 million project” to provide free internet devices and services to a million low-income high school students.

Andre Riley, DeKalb Schools spokesman, says more than 5,000 hotspots will be activated for students during the 2017-2018 school year, and that students will begin getting the computers in the coming weeks.

The hotspots can link up to five devices per unit and are equipped with safeguards to protect students online.

As part of that program, Sprint activated 300 hotspots at Cedar Grove High School on Aug. 22. Days later, the teachers received their new chromebooks.

The Ellenwood school has just over 1,000 students, the majority of whom lack internet access at home.

Shebrie Jones, a Cedar Grove High teacher and department chair, said the addition of computers and internet access will definitely help students to improve their test scores.

“Our kids are 21st century learners and this is a way to keep our kids engaged,” she said Aug. 25. “We have to meet them where they are.”

Jones congratulated the district for making sure students are well-equipped.

“Now the kids have the same opportunity to learn as any student that already has internet at home,” she said. “They’re afforded that ability to be on the same level as everyone else.”

Eventually, the Digital Dreamers project will be expanded to elementary schools, which already have chromebooks laptops that students share for in-school use only.

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