The district sent secondary students home with surveys at the end of this school year, and preliminary results suggest only 25 percent have their own device.

Each of Miami-Dade’s 350,000 public school students will have access to a mobile learning device by 2015, according to a groundbreaking plan approved June 19 by the Miami-Dade School Board, which governs the nation’s fourth largest school system.

Board members unanimously endorsed the proposal by Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, a 2011 Tech-Savvy Superintendent Award winner from eSchool Media, to lease more than 100,000 devices, which will be paid off over a period of up to six years.

The $63 million initiative, among the largest in the country, aims to provide devices such as laptops or tablets for students from kindergarten through 12th grade who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford them.

“It’s unprecedented in the United States, this type of purchase,” said Justin Bathon, a director of the University of Kentucky’s CASTLE center on school technology leadership.

The June 19 vote comes as federal and state governments are pushing schools toward online testing and digital curricula, and during the early stages of a broad effort to move Miami-Dade’s classrooms into the digital learning era. In Florida, all state assessments will be taken online by the 2014-15 school year. By the following year, state law requires that all schools have digital textbooks.

The move also came one day after the Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation’s second largest K-12 system, approved a $30 million purchase of iPads for students at 47 schools.

(Next page: How Miami-Dade’s plan fits in with its “bring your own device” initiative)