Carroll County Public Schools' Bring Your Own Device program will expand to all elementary schools this month until the end of the year to gauge public and teacher response.
Carroll County Board of Education President James Doolan said during the expansion, which will take place at the start of the third marking period Wednesday, Jan. 21, they will acquire a wider swath of data than was possible to collect from the six pilot schools that enacted the program in the fall.
Bring Your Own Device is intended to give students the ability to use their own digital devices in lieu of school-provided technology — substituting a personal Kindle, tablet, smartphone or laptop for the school's computer lab or pre-electronic resources.
The six schools — Carrolltowne, Cranberry Station, Ebb Valley, Eldersburg, Friendship Valley and William Winchester elementary schools — piloted the BYOD program for the first half of the year. All Carroll Middle and High schools are currently engaged in the program.
Following the end of the first half of the school year, the Board of Education provided the pilot schools with a survey to determine the effectiveness of the program at the elementary level.
Each of the schools restricted digital device usage to students between third and fifth grade. According to the survey, 76 percent of parents in the six pilot schools gave their children permission to participate.
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Following the four-month trial period, 93 percent of teachers supported continuing the BYOD program, though 62 percent said the policy should be revised going forward.
Policy revision suggestions included making the guidelines clearer to the parents and students at the start of the year, re-evaluating use during lunch and recess for noninstructional purposes, and providing additional resources to teachers and students on the educational applications of BYOD.
Eldersburg Elementary Principal Cynthia Bell said the program was a huge success at the school, with no disciplinary referrals or problems with loss, theft or damage.
Though the survey suggested continuing with the program, Superintendent Steve Guthrie said not to overstate the results, as the participatory schools opted into the program, and may be more successful with BYOD than others.
Board member Devon Rothschild brought up potential concerns about use during noninstructional periods as well as equity issues. She said she wanted to be sure students without devices weren't feeling left behind by their peers.
The board agreed to expand the program to elementary schools across the county, primarily to accrue feedback from a variety of schools on BYOD as it stands. At the end of the year, Guthrie said the school system will administer another survey before deciding whether to continue BYOD at the elementary level and determine what adjustments, if any, need to be made to the policy.
Reach staff writer Jacob deNobel at 410-857-7890 or firstname.lastname@example.org.