Daily Press from Newport News, Virginia on August 26, 2002 · 22
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Daily Press from Newport News, Virginia · 22

Newport News, Virginia
Issue Date:
Monday, August 26, 2002
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C4 Monday, August 26, 2002 TTTJ LOCAL & STATE Pailu lr ft IK. Laptop program expands Henrico learns from past glitches The Associated Press RICHMOND Biology teacher Ed Chapman says a science maxim aptly describes the first year of Henrico County's program to equip high school students with laptop computers: "The more complex something is, the more likely it is that a small thing will upset it" As the Sept. 3 start of a new term approaches, school officials are confident that last year's problems have been solved and that the groundbreaking technology initiative will run much smoother, even as it's expanded to the county's middle schools. Henrico is paying $18.5 million over four years to lease iBook laptops from Apple Computer Inc. Computers were issued to about 11,000 high school students last year. About 23,000 iBooks will be deployed in the 2002-03 school year. "One of our most important lessons from the first year is making sure teachers have reliable access to the material," Superintendent Mark Edwards said. "We have had some of the top experts on wireless networks coming in and analyzing our preparedness for fall. We expect to have greatly enhanced network reliability" Technical glitches weren't the only problem in the program's first year. Some students were disciplined for downloading pornography and others for attempting to hack into the school's computer system to change grades. Mike Smith, technology director for the Henrico schools, said a better Internet filter would be used this year to prevent students from accessing inappropriate material. He said the filter was 95 percent to 98 percent effective. Area water utilities urge customers to conserve water due to drought. Here are the restrictions they've asked customers to follow today: James City Service Authority Customers with even-numbered street addresses are to water outdoors only on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays; odd-numbered addresses on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Conservation also encouraged on assigned days. Newport News Waterworks Voluntary. Discourages outdoor watering. Serves Hampton, Newport News, Poquoson, and parts of James City and York counties Suffolk Voluntary. Encourages conservation Williamsburg Voluntary. Urges care in water use Share Your Thoughts With the anniversary of 9-1 1 coming near, the Daily Press is compiling a list of commemorations, memorials and observances. The list will run in Friday's Ticket Weekend section Sept. 6 and in our Local section the next week. Submit events by e-mail to jatkinsondailypress.com, by fax to 247-4848, or to the Daily Press, 7505 Warwick Blvd., Newport News. The deadline for submissions is Sept. 3. For more information, call 247-4761. Part-time? Full-time? Call (757)247-4700 or (800)543-3410 to place a Classified Employment ad. tJailo press f - Pete An'derson, a math teacher at Hermitage High School in Richmond, works on his laptop computer during an Aug. 7 training session. Henrico County teachers spent two days learning how to use the laptops effectively in class. Henrico County school officials are confident that last year's problems with a program to equip high school students with laptops have been solved and that the technology initiative will run much smoother. "The porn industry wants to get to children," Smith said. "As long as that's the case, you're never going to be able to block 100 percent of it" Security enhancements also will make it virtually impossible for students to use the wireless iBooks to hack into the school system's wired network, Smith said. Despite the problems, the Henrico program has been a model for others. Maine has signed a deal with Apple to provide laptop computers to every seventh- and eighth-grader. Roanoke County schools are planning a pilot program to provide laptops to some middle and high school students. No more changes needed for SOLs, Va. official says Time to make them work, DeMary notes ' The Associated Press RICHMOND Over the past eight years, Jo Lynne DeMary has been instrumental in developing and enacting the state's rigorous Standards of Learning first as assistant superintendent of public instruction, then as superintendent During that time, the public-school accountability program has been a work in progress, with adjustments made to address criticism that the SOLs put too much emphasis on rote memorization and test-taking skills. As students prepare for the start of a new academic year, DeMary is satisfied that the State Board of Education has tinkered with the program enough. Now is the time to get down to the business of making it work, she said. "I think we've reached our limit, quite honestly," DeMary said about whether more revisions are needed. "1 would be disappointed and alarmed if the board kept making adjustments. I can't imagine anything else we should do to make sure we've addressed the concerns." Starting with the class of 2004, high school students must earn two verified credits in English and four in subjects of their choice to earn a standard diploma. A verified credit is awarded when a student passes a high TERRY'S TUNE N LUBE Locally Owned and Operated WW I Denbigh 1 3379 Warwick Blvd. ! 875-0079 i. -;T" 1 yfi Officials from both places visited Henrico to learn from its problems and successes. Edwards said that more than 99 percent of Henrico's high school students used their iBooks responsibly. Students are required to sign an agreement to use the computers appropriately Alina Karabaich, a sophomore at Mills Godwin High School, said she didn't witness much misuse of the iBooks last year. Some students played games on the computers during study hall early in the year, she said, but school officials eliminated the games because they were taking up too much band school course and its related SOL test or an approved alternative exam. Beginning in 2007, students will have to pass two tests in English and one each in math, science, history and a course of the student's choice. Also starting that year, schools with less than a 70 percent passing rate will lose state accreditation. Changes made by the board include DEMARY adopting a long list of alternative exams that can be taken instead of the SOLs and relaxing test-score requirements for the first three classes graduating under the SOL program. "The substitute tests took away the idea that one test could keep a student from graduating," DeMary said in an interview with The Associated Press. "Now we need to make sure every child knows how to access the program's flexibility." DeMary was appointed superintendent by former Gov. Jim Gilmore, a Republican, and was reappointed in April by Democratic Gov. Mark R. Warner. She said she saw no evidence that Warner wanted to back away from the standards. "I would be very disappointed as superintendent if we were asked to start undoing what has 15 OS All Maintenance Services With this coupon. Expires 91402 Hampton 1308Todds Lane 838-4034 ' EHatchett 1 Home Improvement I The Remodeler of Choice 244-1777 AP width. Karabaich, 15, said she used her iBook for note-taking and to help design a Web page on the Holocaust for a history class, but that was about it Jackie Warren, an eighth-grade teacher at Tuckahoe Middle School, said she was looking forward to using the computer in her civics and world-history classes. "I gives me a variety of sources to go to for information and to keep students captivated," she said. "And students are very adaptable. They love buttons and switches and all that" been done," DeMary said. "We need to have stability" Last month, Warner announced a $3 million program to send educators and volunteers into the worst-performing schools to help them meet the new accreditation standards. DeMary said the program enhanced the accountability program. Since the SOL tests were first administered in 1998, scores have steadily improved. The next statewide scores for the 28 tests are expected to be released within a few weeks. "I don't know what last spring's tests will look like, but I would be extremely disappointed if we don't continue to make good progress," DeMary said. As scores have improved and adjustments in the program have been made, criticism of the SOLs has waned. The tests were "demystified" after education officials decided to release them to the public, DeMary said. The continuing development of the SOLs isn't the only challenge facing public elementary and secondary education, De-Mary said. Virginia schools also are losing teachers to other states that pay higher salaries. "How do we not just attract, but retain, the best teachers? Salaries will have to be one answer," DeMary said. "In part, it's a generational thing. Young people are out to get the most money they can." h 88 Note Digital $99500 PRFF . 'Benches l' i ll-Ljlj Tuning rr-us 1 with it II T(MYfc' purchase LCSSOnS I 1 pijM m m m 1 mm '".ij.iu u.mtuu ' lUlgtKy ': ;r. I WM&T ; J... ; it j. Worried about bills and losses? We help accident victims f : ri " everyday, and do so with experience, commitment, and "f hardwork. We want you to receive the compensation you Pj-r'SL..-. deserve. If an accident happens. Dial l-N-J-U-R-E-D iWf jr&HfrjlVF (465-8733) for a free consultation. Hl C Uwy King P C Need Flowers Delivered? 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