Fresno Unified set to buy almost 15,000 tablets

The Fresno BeeJanuary 8, 2014 

Correction: An earlier version of this story said the Fresno Unified school board approved the purchase. The board discussed it, but did not take a vote.

Fresno Unified students could get their hands on almost 15,000 tablets this year, following a ramp-up in technology at schools across the state as California districts prepare for new state computerized tests.

A school board measure discussed Wednesday would spend $7.8 million on the Asus tablets, which comes from a $14 million pot of state funds the district got this year to transition to the new and more rigorous Common Core academic standards.

A portion of the funds would also be used for teacher training and online resources for teachers.

This spring is the first time districts across the state will take a pilot version of new standardized tests. Students will take the assessments -- which replace the long-used STAR state test -- on computers or tablets.

Chief technology officer Kurt Madden said the Wi-Fi-equipped tablets would allow Fresno Unified to test all its kids within four weeks.

The tablets would also be used for classroom lessons once testing season wraps up at the end of April. About 5,700 would be used in middle schools and high schools while elementary schools would get the remaining devices to use during the school day.

The handhelds will be equipped with tracking devices, Madden said, to help keep them in the right hands and track down ones that are stolen. Students will not take the devices home.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6412, or @hannahfurfaro on Twitter.

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