The school system hosted three classes, one at each school, to teach parents what they need to know about the technology and new skills-focused education standards. Fewer than 50 parents attended the event, but the people who were there said they’re glad to have a little extra help understanding the changes.
“I think it’s good because I tried to figure this stuff out on the MacBook myself and I found some things,” said Serenity Miller, mother to four children who attend Piedmont Schools. “I’m having to relearn.”
The tools children use to learn in Piedmont schools have changed drastically in recent years. Students in almost every grade level are issued take-home laptop computers; in some cases, books have been replaced by Internet-based learning programs; and robotics courses have become part of everyday learning for middle and high school students in Piedmont.
Piedmont helped lead the way in incorporating technology in Alabama classrooms, but it’s not the only system that’s developed a progressive technology plan. Schools across the state are developing similar programs and this year Oxford and Jacksonville city schools rolled out their own technology initiatives, equipping most of their students with take-home technology.
While adjusting to new norms brought about by technology, schools are implementing new state standards developed to ensure Alabama students are ready for work or more education when they graduate from high school. Under the new state standards each student will be required to take college entrance exams and the focus in education will shift to teaching students to think critically rather than memorize facts for tests.
Currently too few Alabama students are ready to perform at a college level upon graduating high school and the new standards seek to change that, said Piedmont Middle School Principal Jerry Snow.
“There is a major difference in being eligible and being ready” for college, Snow said.
Some parents leaving Piedmont High School’s cafeteria Thursday said they came to find out about the steps they need to take to make sure their children excel on the college entrance exam.
“She has to be able to score high to get into a good college,” said Tiffany Taylor, the mother of a ninth-grade student.
Others said they came to find out how they can log onto an Internet-based program that allows students to submit work online, view and communicate with their teachers.
It also shows when students have completed their homework assignments, provides daily updates of grades and gives parents the potential to closely follow their children’s’ academic progress.
“I wanted to make sure I would be able to access that,” said Michelle Adams, whose son is a senior.
Superintendent Matt Akin sat through the presentation at the high school and stayed late to talk to parents there.
He said while turnout was low, parents who didn’t attend the meeting can use the same technology that was discussed there to find out the latest about changes to education in Piedmont.
Staff writer Laura Gaddy: 256-235-3544. On Twitter @LGaddy_Star.