Technology boost

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Many educators believe that reviewing for a test using a computer instead of a worksheet or visiting a Web site instead of staring at an outdated encyclopedia could mean all the difference when it comes to closing the achievement gap for low-income students.

A Cape Girardeau elementary school has been chosen to receive a technology grant that could help level the playing field for low-income and disadvantaged children.

Franklin Elementary School was one of only 120 schools nationwide to receive the grant from the Beaumont Foundation of America. The $65.100 grant will allow the school to purchase laptops, digital cameras, a projector, a document camera, a laser printer and mobile cart next September.

School officials hope that the added technology will help students improve test scores and keep them interested in learning. Computers and technology not only grab a child's interest more than a page in a book, they say, but it also gives teachers a chance for individualized learning with students.

Using computers, the students can log onto programs that let them work at their own pace, which teachers hope means improved annual test scores.

The Beaumont Foundation grant will be used to extend the school's existing Internet access program called e-MINTS.

The Beaumont grant isn't easy to come by. To qualify, a school must have at least 50 percent student eligibility rate for the free and reduced lunch program.

The free and reduced lunch program also is a guide for federal government assistance. Franklin is one of four schools in Missouri to receive the technology grant this year. The others are in Kansas City, St. Louis and Jefferson City.

Franklin school teachers and other district officials are elated about what the grant will allow them to do at a time when tight budgets mean most programs are being cut. Those who are most apt to benefit are low-income students who deserve every advantage they can get.

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