JEFFERSON COUNTY - What used to be a luxury is now a requirement at Arvada West High School. Every incoming freshman must purchase a laptop computer from the school for an eventual cost of $200.
"Yeah, the price point is amazing," said Leah Lindblom, technology coordinator for Arvada West High School.
When they had students bring in their own devices, Lindblom says it created more problems than solutions.
"There's self-esteem associated with it and some kids can't really bring much of anything," Lindblom said.
Arvada West Principal Dr. Rob Bishop said there was too much connectivity became an issue because of the variety of technology.
"Trying to get a MacBook connected, a laptop PC connected, an iPad connected, I mean you had 6-to-7 devices," Bishop said.
So, he and Lindblom decided to go to a different plan by requiring incoming freshmen to purchase Chromebooks directly from the school.
"Really leveled the playing field for all of our families," Bishop said.
Lindblom said it eliminated the line between the "haves" and "have-nots".
"Some of the kids have come to me in tears, not even kidding you, saying thank you," Lindblom said.
With standardized tests being online, Bishop says it used to be a problem for him and other schools because there simply were not enough computers.Students were not allowed to use personal devices to take these tests.
"It paralyzes us would be one way to explain it, for about three weeks," Bishop said.
Now, with school-issued laptops, each student had a computer to take the tests last spring. Instead of three weeks, Bishop said it took three days.
"It worked out great," Bishop said.
Now, four more Jefferson County high schools are implementing the idea this year. Green Mountain, Chatfield, Columbine, and Dakota Ridge are requiring freshmen to buy computers from the school which they can keep.
"When people exchange something of value, they kind of take ownership of it and they take care of it," Bishop said.
Lindblom said students take pride in the devices.
"They hold them around like little babies," Lindblom said. "They're like this is my Chromebook, don't touch it."
The uniform computer system also allows teachers to use software to manage the laptops while in the classroom. That was not possible with students using computers they purchased on their own.
"We really need to stop kids in their tracks sometimes and be able to blank all their screens and say eyes on me," Lindblom said.
Bishop admits there were a few parents who were not happy with the idea especially for kids who already had their own laptops. But, he added, for the most part, his student community has bought into the idea.
He said the costs paid by families essentially covers the costs of the computers, but if a family qualifies for the Free and/or Reduced Lunch Program, the school will buy their computer for them.
"So, we were able to provide something for everybody," Lindblom said. "Consistent, reliable access for all."
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