Laptops provide new instructional tool for Shelby County students in ‘blended learning’ pilot
Less than two weeks before taking their state standardized tests, sixth-graders at Sherwood Middle School in Memphis can rattle off exactly where they fall behind and what computer programs will help them catch up.
Each of Sherwood’s students are equipped with laptop computers as part of a “blended learning” program that allows teachers to pair lesson plans with online tests and assignments tailored specifically for each student.
The three-year pilot program launched last September in 18 Shelby County schools, including eight within the district’s Innovation Zone (iZone). Superintendent Dorsey Hopson hopes the blended learning program will result in test score gains of 10 percent for participating students.
While the district used money in its general fund to launch the ambitious initiative, the program received a significant shot in the arm this year with a $2.6 million grant from the Plough Foundation. The Plough grant will help cover the cost for nearly 5,300 laptops, as well as curriculum, for the next two years at eight iZone schools.