In 2000, Kent School District passed its first Technology Levy since 1988. With this funding came increased equity of access to technology to students. The basis of this commitment led the KSD Board of Directors to create a road map to guide all future technology projects and funding. This road map enabled the various groups and teams involved with the One-to-One Laptop Initiative to lay important groundwork, including fiber infrastructure, increasing wireless access points, developing a hardware life cycle, and centralizing district servers.
In 2004, plans began to fall into place to launch an exciting new venture: one laptop for each student. Under the direction of the superintendent, a small group of staff members began planning the first One-to-One laptop distribution for a pilot group of students in an academy school. In the years that have followed, Information Technology and Instructional Services have partnered to create a sustainable model that is rich in resources and big on impact.
Embarking on a One-to-One Laptop Initiative is no small task. It requires the expertise and careful planning of several key stakeholders. The One-to-One planning team carefully considers the Kent School District Board’s strategic plan as the foundation of this program. Based on our findings and reinforced by research from around the world, a One-to-One laptop program can increase student achievement, provide a way for effective communication with students and families, and help maximize resources.
In 2005, the Kent Technology Academy opened at Mill Creek Middle School. This academy was founded as a proof of concept small school within the greater Mill Creek campus. Sixth grade students from around the district were encouraged to apply with no requirements necessary. A leveled lottery system allowed for the 500+ applicant pool to be narrowed to a group of students with an even representation of gender and geographic region, which allowed for a demographic that accurately represented the district as a whole. With three teachers and 90 students, this school served as the testing ground for new ways of delivering content to students.
The success of the first year of this program led to a second year with the addition of more teaching staff and another grade level of students. During the 2006 school year, an independent research firm conducted a review of the academy and found that its impact on student achievement, engagement, and family involvement was quite positive.
With this information, Kent School District’s Board of Directors approved two expansions: the opening of Kent-Meridian Technology Academy at Kent-Meridian High School, and the roll out of the One-to-One Laptop Initiative to all seventh graders in the district.