Nearly 1,000 inner-city Phoenix high school students are getting an incentive to keep a “C” average. Businesses around the country have donated used computers or partnered with schools to supply new laptops to chosen sophomores. The studentswho will take the equipment home on a loan until they transfer or graduatealso are required to stay out of trouble and stay in school in order to keep the computers.
The Phoenix Union High School District’s $1.2 million giveaway may well be the most extensive undertaken by a single district.
“It’s unusual,” said Cheryl Williams, director of educational technology programs at the National School Boards Association. “I think we need to try all types of experiments. Technology really engages kids.”
Educators hope the computers will open doors for those new to English and those trying to improve their reading skills. The first 100 machines were doled out at South Mountain High School Oct. 23 and 25.
Surveys will be conducted and test scores analyzed in coming years to measure the success of the program.
All sophomores are eligible for the giveaway, but families will have to pay for internet service if they want it and attend four hours of training.
The last of the computers, paid for by federal funds earmarked to improve academic performance, will be handed out by the end of the year.