Carroll considers allowing students to bring in personal electronics

The last time Carroll County Public Schools revised its policy on portable electronic devices "cellphones were cellphones."

"Now they're cameras, calculators, and everything else," said Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Steve Johnson.


The school system introduced a bring your own device (BYOD) policy Wednesday that would establish guidelines for students to bring their own electronics, such as laptops, iPads, iPhones, e-readers, or tablets, for use in classroom activities.

If approved by the Board of Education, the policy would take effect for the 2014-2015 school year.


Johnson said the school system has been working on a BYOD policy for about two years as the proper wireless infrastructure was set in place in schools across the county.

"Quite frankly, this was driven by online testing requirements," he said.

Beginning next year, school systems across the state will need to administer the new PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) Assessments online.

The new PARCC tests will be aligned with the Maryland College- and Career-Ready Standards that began full implementation across the state this past fall, according to a release from the Maryland Department of Education.

Carroll's proposed policy replaces the previous policy on electronic devices in schools, which was last revised in 2008 and prohibited the use of electronics in school by students.

Under the proposed policy, parents would be required to sign off on their children bringing a device to school and once in school, the student is responsible at all times for that device.

"We are not going to be providing extra security for these devices," Johnson said.

Students will not be asked to share their device with other students who do not have their own, according to the policy.


If a student reports a theft, Johnson said, it will be investigated in the same manner any theft is today.

He said that the school system is not telling teachers that they must begin to incorporate these electronic devices in their lesson plans.

"The bottom line is this is all voluntary," he said. "What we're not saying is you must bring in your own device."

If a lesson calls for the use of electronics and not all students are able to bring in their own, the school system will provide whatever technology is needed to all students, Johnson said.

If approved by the Board of Education, staff and school administrators would address the change with parents and students over the summer.

"I want to caution everyone, this is not going to be without some growing pains," he said. "This is a brand new step for us and there are going to be some issues."